BOSTON — Brad Marchand is one of the more polarizing, and confusing, players in the NHL.
He is a highly skilled forward, one of the best in the league. And he can’t shake (doesn’t want to shake?) his pest tendencies.
At the end of overtime on Thursday, Marchand and Brayden Point battled for the puck along the boards. Marchand grabbed Point in a headlock and started a melee.
Anthony Cirelli jumped on Marchand, Patrice Bergeron followed him. Ryan McDonagh and Charlie McAvoy held onto each other.
Marchand received a roughing penalty, but there’s no fall out from a penalty at the overtime buzzer. He still took an attempt in the shootout.
“Really, it’s a great play,” Point said. “There’s not much time. He breaks up a potential chance for us and he still gets to shoot in the shootout. There’s no real consequence for that. So really it’s a good play.
That didn’t appear to be what Point said at the time. When the linesmen pulled the two apart, he was still reaching for Marchand.
As Marchand appeared on the video board, the TD Garden crowd went wild. They love his antics. Even when said antics make no sense (um, licking Ryan Callahan), Bruins fans love Marchand.
This instance has some ironic timing. I had a conversation with another reporter just Wednesday about Marchand in which I admitted I still tend to classify Marchand in the pest category vs. skilled category. The other reporter leaned the other way, saying Marchand had mostly shed his pest ways.
Hours later, I got another message: he was leaving open that Marchand could return to his pest ways at any time.
Turns out, that was a good clarification.
On Thursday, Marchand hit the post twice on very near goals. He assisted two power-play goals. And he put Point in a headlock.
He is who we thought he was. Well, kinda.
Read up on the Lightning’s 4-3 shootout win
Tampa Bay played a great game five-on-five but couldn’t do much on special teams. The Lightning won the game, but the penalties and issues on both power play and penalty kill over-shadowed the positive elements. Read more.
Jon Cooper joined a list with names like Bill Belichick and Doug Armstrong when he was invited to speak to the Boston College hockey team. Read more.
More notes and thoughts from the game
· The Lightning split up Erik Černák and Ryan McDonagh, a move the team appeared to be avoiding. Černák looks good playing with Victor Hedman in the top pairing. The next step is to move Mikhail Sergachev to the second pair with McDonagh. Right now, he’s playing with Braydon Coburn and McDonagh with Kevin Shattenkirk. If the Lightning wants to see more defensive responsibility and maturity from Sergachev, playing with McDonagh could help him get there.
· Point scored a nice breakaway goal in with 0.8 seconds left in the first period. But when he was tasked with nearly the same thing in the shootout, he came up short. Point is now scoreless in his last seven shootout attempts, including all of last season. He was reliable in shootouts his first two seasons (10-of-15), but something flipped last year.
· Tyler Johnson led the Lightning with five hits on Thursday. Yes, that Tyler Johnson, known for speed and skill. Three other players made four hits: McDonagh, Černák and Sergachev. Hits can be subjective and the stat should be taken with a grain of salt, but extremes are usually indicators
· Speaking of Johnson … he played in his 476th game on Thursday to break his tie with Rob Zamuner and take sole possession of 10th on the Lightning's list of all-time games played. Johnson is also seventh in goals (131) and eighth in points (312).
· At 6-foot-8, Zdeno Chara is hard to miss on the ice. But he was barely noticeable against the Lightning on Thursday. In addition to his size, Chara usually stands out for his strong defensive play, but he didn’t have much of an impact on Thursday.