What might legendary Bruins pest Brad Marchand have against Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry? I wonder if he has any real grievance at all. I mean, what does the dog have against the mailman? Nothing personal. It is simply in the nature of some living things to be belligerent and annoying.
The first incident between Jarry and Marchand was actually kind of funny. It came at the end of the second period on Tuesday night, after the Bruins allowed three straight goals to squander a 2-0 lead. Jarry looked like he was about to try to flip a puck over the boards as a souvenir for a visiting Penguins fan, but apparently out of sheer pettiness, Marchand delayed his own trip to the locker room in order to sabotage this act of generosity. He was incredibly smooth in doing it, too, catching the puck in midair without breaking stride after hitting Jarry’s stick.
While this surely didn’t endear Marchand to the Pens netminder, what happened as the Bruins were about to lose the game was far worse. On a stoppage of play with 24 seconds left and Boston down 4-2, Marchand, perhaps taking offense to some words from Jarry, or the goaltender’s earlier love tap on Charlie Coyle, rushed into the crease to bonk the goaltender on the noggin with his fist. Then, as Marchand was being restrained by officials, he managed to reach out with his stick and attack Jarry again. What the hell, man?
Marchand wasn’t available to the media when the game ended, and Jarry was remarkably tight-lipped about what went down.
“It’s part of the game,” the goalie said. “And I think it just stays on the ice.”
Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, while pleading ignorance to the cause of all this nastiness, was a bit more straightforward in rebuking one of his top players for his dickheadedness.
“You’ve got to have better discipline at the end of the day,” he said. “Brad’s a leader on our team and he’s got to control his emotions.”
While the in-game cost was very little—Marchand got a match penalty in a game his team was already about to lose—the consequences could get more serious from here, as Player Safety announced today that Marchand will be offered an in-person hearing, which is required before a suspension of six games or more is given. (As a repeat offender, he’ll likely get hit much harder than if, say, good ol’ Patrice Bergeron had done the same.) The Bruins aren’t exactly fighting for their playoff lives, but losing a guy who’s in top form (21 goals and 28 assists in only 39 games) for an extended period of time would still suck for them. Not that they’re unused to playing through Marchand suspensions.
If I wanted to try and ascribe some sense to Marchand’s actions, I might say he’s playing the long game. Perhaps he sees the Penguins, currently tied for second in their own division, as a likely contender for the Eastern Conference final, and he wants to get in the head of the young goalie who, despite his quality play this year, struggled mightily last postseason. But that’s probably not it. Everything we’ve learned about Marchand over the course of his 13-year NHL career describes a great player who is nevertheless so single-mindedly pugnacious that he will stop at nothing to bother his adversaries, even to the detriment of his own wallet and ability to play in the game where he’s so talented. He’s 33 years old, and nothing has changed. The best the Bruins can hope for is that, when this happens again—and it will—it won’t come at a time when they sorely need him on the ice.