One of the many highlights for the Boston Bruins in their 6-2 thumping of the Columbus Blue Jackets Tuesday night was the two points recorded by Brad Marchand to officially put him over the 100-point mark. It is such a big deal because, for one, even with the increase in league-wide offense the past two seasons it is still a milestone that is incredibly rare in today’s NHL.
Also because he is the first Bruins player to do it since Joe Thornton during the 2002-03 season, only the third since 1993 (Adam Oates did it during the 1993-94 season), and only the fifth since 1984.
It is rare for the NHL, and even rarer in Boston.
It also continues what has been an incredible run for Marchand over the past few seasons that has seen him develop into one of the game’s most complete, all-around, and just flat-out dominating players. He is not always (or ever?) mentioned among the league’s elites, but he probably should be.
Because he is. Almost entirely across the board.
The phrase “two-way player” gets thrown around pretty liberally at times and is usually reserved for players that are excellent in one area (offensively or defensively) and maybe above average in the other. Basically, just so you are not completely one-dimensional in your game you can carry the “two-way player” label.
There are only a handful of players in the league that outstanding in both areas, and Marchand has become one of them.
Let’s start by looking at the top-seven forwards in the NHL since the start of the 2006-07 season in goals, points, goals per game, points per game, Corsi percentage (shot attempt-differential), and total shot attempts against per 60 minutes (CA/60).
See if you can spot the trend.
That is Marchand in the top-seven of each category (and often times in the top-five), the only player in the league who can make that claim. As if that is not enough, he is also eighth in total even-strength points, 14th in total power play points, and first in total shorthanded points. There is not a single aspect of the game where he is not among the top-15, and usually top-10, players in the league.
He does everything.
The qualifier that will no doubt get thrown in here is that he spends the bulk of his time playing next to Patrice Bergeron, one of the few players in the NHL who accurately fits the “two-way player” label and is often viewed (and rightfully so) as the engine that drives the Bruins.
It is not wrong to point that out because, let’s be honest, Bergeron is that good, and there is plenty of evidence to suggest that he is the one who drives a lot of the possession and shot suppression numbers. When Marchand is a with Bergeron, they are as good (and probably better) than any other duo in the NHL. When they are separated, there are some drops for both of them. Marchand sees a dip in his possession numbers (though it is not a crippling drop as he still posts excellent possessions on his own), while the line sees a significant drop in its ability to produce offense when Marchand is removed from the mix.
And really, I think that might be the simplest way to put all of this: When it comes to the Bruins’ top line (and we haven’t even mentioned David Pastrnak, the third stud player for that group), Bergeron is the one who drives a lot of the shutdown play defensively, while Marchand is the one that drives a lot of the offense.
And for going on three or four seasons now, there have only been a very small handful of players in the NHL who have driven their team’s offense the way Marchand has in Boston.
You may hate him if you’re not a Bruins fan or an opposing player, but you can’t take away from the dominance he has demonstrated over the past few years.
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