DETROIT – Safe to say that Brad Marchand isn’t going to be adopted as the fourth Smith brother any time soon.
Reilly Smith probably likes his Bruins linemate enough, and oldest brother Rory has probably seen worse things on a lacrosse field than anything Marchand’s done on the ice. But it’s a confirmed fact that Brendan Smith does not like Marchand.
The Detroit Red Wings defenseman, who’s had several run-ins with Marchand through three games of this Eastern Conference first-round series, explained himself after practice Wednesday at Joe Louis Arena. Game 4 of the series is Thursday with the Bruins leading the series 2-1.
“Well I don’t know him. So I don’t know,” Brendan Smith said. “I don’t like some of the cheap shots here and there. I mean nobody really does. Name somebody that does and I’ll call you a liar because nobody ever likes cheap shots. In that sense, I don’t like how he plays in that way. But other than that I don’t really know, so I can’t comment.”
You’ve said enough, Brendan. And your actions as well as those of your teammates prove that Marchand is at his absolute vintage 2011 best right now in the agitating department. No matter how much the Red Wings try to deny it, Marchand is under their skin. And that’s just how Marchand likes it, even if it means he won’t be able to change his name to Smith in the near future.
“You know when I want to play that way, it’s good to see guys get off, get aggravated and stuff like that,” Marchand said. “But it allows me to play better, I get more into the game, more emotionally involved and I just feel like my game’s a little better when I do that.”
Marchand hasn’t scored a goal yet, but he’s made himself a focal point. That’s great news for the Bruins, and not just because he’s distracting the opposition. There’s no heat on Boston at all. Up 2-1 in the series, few are talking about the Bruins’ penchant for letting teams back into series. David Krejci’s lack of scoring and the defensive lapses that occurred after the Bruins grabbed the lead in Games 2 and 3 have been glanced over.
Brad Marchand grabs the wrong leg on a video, and it’s all about him. The questions from the media fly his way and his teammates not only have to answer for less, they get to chuckle at their teammate’s fakery.
Sure, he might’ve taken a dive on Brendan Smith’s trip in the second period of Game 3. But Marchand’s story about grabbing the leg that wasn’t hit seems plausible because he could’ve easily done some damage on the landing after embellishing the hit. So far he hasn’t used any Red Wings like a Daniel Sedin punching bag. That’s probably wise, because the referees might be apt to call a penalty three years after that video made the NHL look a little bad.
For Marchand, it’s all about being a brat but not a felon (hockey-wise anyway). Coach Claude Julien said that as long as Marchand’s antics stay within the rules and he gives the Bruins what Brad Marchand typically gives, then Marchand has his blessing.
On the other side, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock wants his players to “ignore him.” That usually proves easier to say than do.
Marchand think he’s up for the challenge of getting Red Wings players to violate Babcock’s orders.
“I mean they don’t want to do anything stupid after the whistle and anything like that. But when you go after guys enough and you hit them, it’s human nature they’re going to want to hit you back,” he said. “I think you can see that out there, guys just taking runs and that’s just how it goes. They might skate away and not chirp and stuff like that. But guys are going to run out of position to hit and stuff like that and that’s what you want.”
That’s exactly what the Bruins want.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.
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