BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins are 9-2-2, the second-best record in the Eastern Conference. They’ve done it despite any player on the roster ranking inside the top 40 in points and with just one player posting a double-digit points mark through 13 games.
If that seems unlikely, it’s because of the inexplicable goal-scoring run which Brad Marchand is currently enjoying.
The Bruins’ forward has gone through a number of transformations since joining the team a few seasons ago. He was a scrappy, high-energy fourth-liner who was expected to buzz around the ice like the Energizer Bunny. He then developed into an agitator, masterfully displaying the ability to toe the line and get under opponents’ skin.
But a funny thing happened along the way — Marchand turned out to be a pretty talented hockey player.
After scoring zero goals in 20 games in 2009-10, Marchand potted 21 goals in his official rookie season (and another 11 in 25 playoff games) before scoring 28 last year. Now with eight through 13 games, Marchand would be on pace to score 50 goals in a full 82-game season.
Marchand leads the team with those eight goals, scoring on a ridiculous 44.4 percent of his shots. That number is far and away the best in the NHL among players with at least 10 shots, with New Jersey’s Adam Henrique’s 33.3 percent the next best mark and Anaheim’s Saku Koivu’s 28.6 percentage ranking third.
It’s a rate that nobody can rightfully maintain over the course of a full season (just four players in history have ever finished a season with a rate better than 30 percent), but it, along with Tuukka Rask’s outstanding work in the crease, is the precise reason why the Bruins have earned themselves 20 out of a possible 26 points thus far.
Marchand’s eight goals account for 21.6 percent of the Bruins’ 37 goals this season. He as twice as many as David Krejci and Nathan Horton, who are second on the team with four apiece, and they’ve been even more valuable, considering linemates Tyler Seguin and Patrice Bergeron have been slow to recapture their scoring touch this season.
Marchand’s timing hasn’t been all that bad, either. He’s scored twice against Winnipeg, the first a game-tying goal in an eventual 2-1 shootout victory and the second the game-winner (on a power play) on Sunday. He got the Bruins on the board to begin that memorable comeback at Madison Square Garden, his short-handed score gave the Bruins an early 1-0 lead in Carolina, as did his second-period goal in the Bruins’ victory in Buffalo.
The team-wide scoring drought has no doubt been an issue this season for the Bruins, as evidenced by their just plus-6 goal differential on the year. They’ll all eventually get going, though, and when they do, they can thank Marchand for keeping them afloat for so long.