The 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs feature a downright dizzying array of upsets, so in this time of uncertainty, it’s comforting to see some constants. And is there really anything more constant than Brad Marchand stirring up some drama?
The superstar-agitator was in playoff (and by no means “rare”) form after the Bruins managed a 3-2 OT win against the Blue Jackets in Game 1, trading barbs with former teammate Riley Nash, and possibly riling up Cam Atkinson.
Hits keep coming
David Krejci is considered day-to-day after being shaken up by a couple of hits, most notably one by former teammate Nash:
Marchand had a fun line regarding Nash, via The Athletic’s Fluto Shinzawa.
“I don’t think he had a hit in two years with us,” Marchand said.
People seemed to agree with Marchand’s sentiment, but to be fair to Nash, that comment carries some (gasp) hyperbole. Nash averages a bit more than a hit per game during his career, including 86 during 76 games with the Bruins in 2017-18.
Perhaps Marchand should start chirping scorekeepers for counting up Nash’s hits? Marchand averages ever-so-slightly fewer hits per game, although some of his hits have drawn the ire of the Department of Player Safety.
Tip: Marchand might be better off mocking Nash for his lighter scoring, particularly after Marchand wrapped up his first 100-point season. Just saying.
Another tip: Don’t ask Marcus Johansson about Marchand’s hitting abilities.
In an odd exchange during overtime, Marchand stepped on Atkinson’s stick, or as Marchand explains it …
Atkinson gave Marchand a bump after that moment, and following Game 1, Atkinson said he would “go toe to toe” with Marchand, according to The Athletic’s Aaron Portzline. Given some time to rest on it, Portzline indicates that Atkinson’s tone became more bemused than truly annoyed, but who knows?
This rivalry figures to build as Round 2 goes along, even if it doesn’t devolve into fisticuffs and ill-advised penalties. So far, Atkinson’s most common even-strength forward adversary has been Marchand. While Columbus managed to keep the Bruins’ most potent scorers from producing in Game 1, the possession numbers and eye test both argue that Marchand was getting his chances, and Boston obviously won. It remains to be seen if Atkinson & Co. can improve as the series goes along, or if John Tortorella might want to get away from that matchup when the Blue Jackets get the last change when the series shifts to Columbus.
It’s tempting to wonder if Atkinson might be able to distract/”get Marchand off his game,” but honestly, it seems like Marchand thrives on this kind of gamesmanship. And hey, trash talk doesn’t exactly make things dull like Marchand’s skate blade, either.
The Bruins hope to build on their 1-0 series lead against the Blue Jackets in Game 2 at TD Garden at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday (NBC; stream here).
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.