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BOSTON (CBS) — Throughout the NHL, many teams have experience dealing with Brad Marchand. Just about all of them have hated it.
Referred to as “The Little Ball of Hate” by the President of the United States of America, Marchand has never shied away from his reputation and role as the player that opponents simply cannot stand. By and large, he brings that edge to the ice just about every shift.
Yet, there are levels to Marchand’s work, and in the playoffs, some teams just seem to inspire the nastiness to come out a little bit more than others. Though the Eastern Conference finals was a short series, and though the Penguins are devastated to have their season ended, they are no doubt ecstatic that they no longer have to deal with Marchand.
The 25-year-old used seemingly every whistle to start something with someone — it didn’t matter which player, necessarily, so long as he was wearing a Pittsburgh sweater. It showed, too, on the stat sheet each game, as he was called for a boarding penalty in Game 1, a tripping penalty in Game 2 when he went out of his way to bump Sidney Crosby’s skate, and a kneeing penalty for extending his leg to trip Chris Kunitz after a whistle in Game 3. At the same time, it was his two goals in Game 2 — one in the opening 30 seconds of the game, the other 25 seconds after the Penguins scored a goal — that bothered the Penguins more than anything (Matt Cooke more than anyone.).
So by the time Game 4 rolled around, it wasn’t entirely surprising to see him pick up a roughing penalty for exchanging punches with old friend Matt Niskanen after a whistle and then later get sent to the penalty box for interference after cross-checking Brooks Orpik’s lower back.
But by the end of the night, Marchand had an assist on the game-winning goal, and he was on to the Stanley Cup Final.
“Yeah, I think so,” Marchand said when asked if it’s more satisfying to win, knowing how much distaste the other team holds for him. “It’s just how the game goes out there. The tempers are flaring a bit, especially when we’re this far in the playoffs. Guys’ tempers are going and there’s a lot of intensity out there. It’s just kind of right there in your face all the time, and it’s fun to be a part of.”
Fun for him, sure, but the Penguins had a lifetime’s worth of experience of Marchand crammed into the four-game Bruins sweep. The fact that it was his effort, staying on late 75 seconds into his shift to rush the puck into the zone before sending a pass to Adam McQuaid on the game-winning sequence, had to have made the already-painful loss that much harder for the Penguins to stomach.