WILMINGTON — Claude Julien praised Brad Marchand on Monday. Not after the Bruins coach had seen his winger submit a strong game, score a good goal, or perform well on the penalty kill.
The Bruins haven’t played since Saturday, a 4-3 loss to New Jersey.
“I thought he had a real good practice today,” Julien said. “He seemed to have a little bit more jump.”
When Marchand is clicking, he is one of the team’s best skaters. Marchand has very good straight-line speed. He can change directions and slash powerfully to open ice.
The rust in Marchand’s skates, however, is causing the rest of his game to wither.
“I think when Brad skates the way Brad can skate, he’s quick,” Julien said. “He’s a real fast skater and stuff like that. If he can start using his speed and put some real good work ethic in along with that — the compete level that we know he can — those two things alone will make a huge difference for him.”
Marchand has given Julien little to praise in games. Marchand didn’t play well in training camp. Marchand didn’t find his legs in the first few regular-season games. The Bruins believed Marchand would work his way out of an early slump.
A 10-game segment, however, has given the Bruins a better sample size of Marchand’s work. It has been below the player’s and the organization’s expectations.
Marchand has one goal and two assists while averaging 15:00 of playing time per game. It is the lowest amount of ice time Marchand’s seen since logging 13:59 per appearance in 2010-11, his first full season as an NHLer.
Last year, Marchand was a second-line fixture. Marchand led the team in scoring with 18 goals and 18 assists for 36 points. Marchand played in every situation. He scored a team-high five game-winning goals.
Now, Marchand is only serving as Patrice Bergeron’s running mate because of Loui Eriksson’s concussion. Before Eriksson suffered his head injury last Wednesday, Marchand had been on the third line for the three previous games.
Marchand scored his only goal on Oct. 5 against Detroit. In three of the last five games, Marchand didn’t land a single shot on goal. Marchand hasn’t gotten any regular power-play looks. Because Marchand hasn’t skated well, the rest of his game has suffered, from his decision-making to his shooting percentage to his mouth.
Julien issued Marchand a reminder: If he skates with purpose, his touch will return.
“Today, I think he responded well to that,” Julien said. “I thought he had a real good practice. He was skating better than I’ve seen him skate in a while. Hopefully he continues to work on that part of it, and he’ll be fine.”
Eriksson remains out
Marchand will have to serve as Eriksson’s replacement for at least three more games. Julien does not expect Eriksson to resume skating this week. The Bruins play at Pittsburgh Wednesday, at home against Anaheim Thursday, and against the Islanders on Long Island Saturday.
Eriksson visited his teammates at Ristuccia Arena Monday.
“The one good news is that he did show up this morning,” Julien said. “He came by, and that’s usually good news when a guy can leave his home and come to the rink.”
Eriksson didn’t play the last two games. Eriksson will miss his fourth straight game Thursday, the same day John Scott will have his in-person hearing with NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan.
Iginla fitting right in
Jarome Iginla will face the Penguins, his temporary employers, Wednesday. In Pittsburgh, Iginla played mostly on the left wing. Through his first 10 games in Boston, Iginla has been the No. 1 right wing alongside Milan Lucic and David Krejci in Nathan Horton’s old spot. Iginla has two goals and six assists while leading the team with 30 shots on goal. “We liked Horty. He was a highly skilled player,” Julien said. “We also know that he had his fair share of ups and downs. Some games he’d be really good. Other games he didn’t have much of an impact. We’re getting consistency out of Jarome. He’s been really good.” . . . The Bruins executed a perfect faceoff play prior to Lucic’s goal against New Jersey. After winning a defensive-zone draw against Dainius Zubrus, Krejci pulled the puck to Dennis Seidenberg. As Seidenberg passed to Dougie Hamilton, Iginla broke for the boards. Hamilton one-touched the puck up the wall to Iginla. Once Iginla gave the puck to Krejci, the Bruins had speed and numbers, allowing Lucic to finish the play. But the Bruins got all the bounces. Seidenberg went D-to-D quickly before Damien Brunner could seal off the pass. Iginla fought off Travis Zajac’s check to make it to the wall. Zubrus, who should have stayed high between Krejci and the New Jersey goal, drifted low after losing the faceoff. “Everything has to go right,” Seidenberg said . . . Adam McQuaid left practice briefly following a collision. McQuaid returned to the ice while his teammates were stretching after practice. McQuaid took several laps around the ice as his teammates clapped their sticks on the ice.