By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Brad Marchand. He’s a pain in the neck. Perhaps you’ve heard?
Yet, somehow, despite a long list of acts done on the ice to irritate and agitate opponents, he still finds someone to fall for his tricks on a regular basis.
On Sunday afternoon, that person was Justin Williams. A veteran of 18 NHL seasons (Williams made his NHL debut when Marchand was 12 years old), Williams is a veteran leader for the Hurricanes. Yet even he couldn’t resist but fight back when bothered by Marchand behind a play late in the second period.
That wasn’t without reason. Marchand caught Williams with a stick to the shoulder, helping to send Williams down to the ice. But as the ancient hockey adage goes, it’s always the person who retaliates who ends getting caught.
Williams likely knew that one pretty well before Sunday, but he was nevertheless offered a firm reminder from the referees in this one.
Marchand, who had entangled himself with Canes winger Andrei Svechnikov just a few minutes earlier and appeared to have been trying to bait an opponent into taking a penalty, appeared to be quite happy with his work. Marchand gestured toward the Carolina bench to signal that Williams needed to head to the penalty box, and then Marchand appeared to shape his hand in the shape of the letter “C” on his chest.
The message would seem to indicate that Marchand expected better composure from a team captain.
After the game, Marchand delivered some commentary about the incident.
“I think he was a little frustrated that he fell down,” Marchand said. “But it was just good that we were able to capitalize on that opportunity. I’ve been on that side plenty of times, and it’s not fun. But he’s their captain and their leader over there. He bounced back and got a big goal late to kind of get them going. He’s got a lot of character, he plays hard.”
Williams expressed disappointment in himself for taking the bait.
“Yeah, I’m disappointed in general, yeah. Absolutely,” he said. “I’ve got to know better.”
Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour was asked about the penalty call on Williams, but he didn’t want to discuss it.
“I don’t even know what that was. The penalty, that second one? Is that what you’re talking about?” Brind’Amour replied. “Yeah, I got no comment there.”
Marchand, of course, garnered quite a bit of attention during the Bruins’ second-round series against the Blue Jackets — first for punching an unsuspecting player in the head, then for giving short answers in postgame interviews following the clinching Game 6 victory.
After losing Game 1 of this conference final matchup on Thursday, the Hurricanes all stated that they needed to stay out of the penalty box in order to compete against a team like Boston. That didn’t work out on this day, and the Bruins made it hurt when Matt Grzelcyk scored his second goal of the game in the resulting power play, giving Boston a 4-0 lead.