The threat is there, always waiting. For teams on the power play against the Bruins, there is something they need to guard against. That, of course, is the shorthanded goal, an area in which the Bruins are impressively adept.
With Brad Marchand’s fourth shorthanded goal of the season Monday — he took on four Kings by himself to score — the Bruins are now second in the NHL with seven as a team. Only Carolina (nine) has more.
Mostly that’s because of Marchand, who leads the league in shorthanded goals, with Patrice Bergeron, Daniel Paille, and Chris Kelly each adding one to the Bruins’ total.
“You always like to have that,” coach Claude Julien said after the 3-2 win over the Kings, also citing Bergeron and David Krejci as Bruins who have that particular talent.
“There were times when we were struggling that it was costing us, leaving the zone early or stretching out and opening up seams. But when you’re making those decisions at the right time, you become a threat.
“It’s always good to have those kind of players killing penalties because it keeps the power play on their heels, too. They need to respect the offensive part of our penalty kill. It’s scored some big goals for us so far this year.”
Marchand opened the scoring against Los Angeles with a shorthanded goal at 12:07 of the first period, a statement goal that demonstrates just how confident he has become of late. With two against the Kings, Marchand now has six goals in his last four games and 11 in his last 15. His second goal of the game, an even-strength tally, came at 8:53 of the third period — just 18 seconds after the Kings had tied the score.
But it was that first goal that inspired awe in the stands, at home, and in his own dressing room.
As Matt Bartkowski said, “Yeah, that was pretty sick.”
Marchand first beat Drew Doughty, who lost his stick in the process, swiveling around Doughty in the slot. But the stick tangled him up, with the puck hitting it, and the shot on Jonathan Quick wasn’t a particularly challenging one.
The puck squirted back out to Marchand to the right of the goal, and he got a second chance, despite the four Kings surrounding Quick. Anze Kopitar attempted to challenge Marchand, but he was able to get the puck past the goaltender on his stick side.
“I thought he was going to shoot it, so I went knee down and tried to block it,” Kopitar said. “It went around me and it was a nice move that shouldn’t have happened.”
But it did.
“Early on I tried to beat guys like that all the time and it just didn’t work and it was one of those times where it did and went my way,” Marchand said. “But those don’t happen often, so definitely nice when they do.”
Marchand now has 12 career shorthanded goals, and is nearing his career high of five in a season, which happened in the Bruins’ Cup-winning year of 2010-11.
“Obviously Bergy gives me a lot of really good opportunities and [Zdeno Chara] and Johnny [Boychuk], normally my linemates back there, so they give me a lot of good chances,” Marchand said. “So I got to give them the credit.”
There is credit to be given there, but Marchand also has turned his game around in a season that started slowly for him. He wasn’t skating well. He was missing on chances. He was seeing bad bounces.
Now a combination of using his speed and feeling his confidence return has created a situation in which it seems as though Marchand can’t be stopped. He has scored in each of those last four games — one goal against Toronto, one against Dallas, and two each vs. Chicago and Los Angeles.
“Definitely confidence helps a lot,” Bergeron said. “I think that’s got something to do with it, but I think that he’s really moving his feet, using his speed to his advantage, and he’s creating a lot of plays just by his hockey instincts.
“He’s taking what’s in front of him. He’s not forcing plays. He’s got it on a string right now. He’s making some unbelievable moves. It makes us better players on the ice right now as a line.”Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.