For a large portion of the 2017-18 season there was an MVP push coming out of the city of Boston for one of their top forwards, and it was very justified.
It was just being directed at the wrong player.
While Patrice Bergeron is looked at as the centerpiece of the Bruins — not only their dominant top line, but the team itself — and a player that should have received some MVP love this season, the best and most valuable player on the team is Brad Marchand. He just is. For as great as Bergeron has been for as long as he has been, Marchand has become the guy in Boston.
He is one of the best offensive players in the league. He is as dominant a two-way player as there is in the NHL. He is usually doing something that is either going to impress you or infuriate you.
All of that was on display on Thursday night in the Bruins’ 5-1 blowout win over the Toronto Maple Leafs where he did pretty much everything that makes Marchand the player that he is.
He opened the scoring in the first period by blowing past Roman Polak to score a power play goal (replays show he was probably offside by about an inch, but the Maple Leafs elected not to challenge).
Later in the game he set up with David Pastrnak to extend the lead. It’s not just the pass or the ability to find the open man, check out what he does to the Toronto defender to completely fake him out to get himself in a position to make the play.
When he was not scoring goals or setting them up, he was working to keep the Maple Leafs pinned in their own zone. When he was on the ice during 5-on-5 play the total shot attempts were 22-5 in favor of the Bruins, and the goals were 1-0.
That is the sort of stuff that has made Marchand one of the game’s elite offensive players. Since the start of the 2015-16 season his 110 goals are the third most in the NHL. His 231 points are the eighth most. He has done that despite missing more than 20 games during that stretch. His 1.03 points per game are sixth most.
But when you’re talking about Brad Marchand you’re not just talking about a dominant offensive player.
You’re also talking about the pest. The player that toes the line and often times finds himself in hot water for the way he plays and the things he does.
That, too, was on display on Thursday night when he did this to Leo Komarov.
That is … well … that is not something you should not be doing, and shockingly is it is not even the first time Marchand has done something like that to Komarov, having already given him a kiss on the cheek during a game back in November.
With the exception of some sort of a controversial hit that might warrant a fine or a suspension, we pretty much received the entire Brad Marchand experience on Thursday night. Dynamic offense. Dominant two-way play. A little bit of weirdness as he tried to get under the skin of an opponent.
If the Maple Leafs do not find an answer for him — and his entire line — this could be a very short series.