DETROIT — The advice that Mike Babcock gives to his players regarding Brad Marchand is the same advice that coaches, seemingly, have been giving their players about the winger for years: “Just ignore him.”
That, of course, is easier said than done.
Marchand has seemed to ease up in his agitating ways this season — with the exception of a game in Vancouver in December — but he has ramped it back up in the postseason. Brendan Smith has been a special target, and it was acknowledged by Marchand earlier in the series that the brother of linemate Reilly Smith doesn’t like him very much.
Brendan Smith and Marchand had an incident in the Bruins’ 3-0 win Tuesday night in Game 3, a collision in the second period that left Marchand down on the ice grabbing his knee. (Marchand told reporters after the game that it was the right knee that twisted when he landed, which is why he grabbed that one instead of the left, which was the one that appeared to be hit by Smith.)
“That’s Marchand, he’s going to try to create some stuff,” Smith said. “That’s the kind of player he is and that’s how he’s lived off of it for a long time and that’s why he’s great. It’s kind of funny when you get caught like that and you go down on your left leg and you’ve got your right leg up. But I mean, that’s how he is and that’s how he plays and it’s worked for him.
“You think about last year’s playoffs. He baited [the Penguins’ Matt] Cooke into maybe fighting and then he wheeled up the wing and put it top shelf. That’s something that he does. He’s an antagonizer, he’s kind of like a pest kind of guy but he’s very good at it. He’s one of the best in the league at that.”
Said Marchand of his run-ins with Smith, “I think just with him we’ve been playing against each other a lot. He’s a physical guy. Whenever he can take a run at me, he’s taken a run at me. I want to do the same to him. So it’s just in a series like this, you want to try and wear each other down and whenever he gets a chance to hit me, I’m sure he’s going to.”
The Bruins — coach Claude Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli, in particular — were not happy with Marchand’s actions in that Vancouver game, when he mimed kissing the Stanley Cup and a Cup ring in a game they were losing badly. But that doesn’t mean they want him to tone it down entirely.
They know it can help him and help them.
“We don’t want him to cross the line,” Julien said. “He’s got to play his game, and he’s got to be, again, respectful of the rules. The only time he’s ever gotten in trouble with us is when he crosses the line. Right now I think he’s being the Brad Marchand that we know. As long as he stays within the rules, I have no issue.”
And maybe he’s learned. Maybe.
“I’m trying to cut out the stuff that I don’t need to do, like starting a lot of scrums after the whistle, stuff like that,” Marchand said. “I think I’ve cut down a lot on that. Hopefully refs will see that a bit and give me a bit of a break.”
He added, “You want to set a tempo. It doesn’t matter who you’re playing against. You want to play in [their] face. I think that’s kind of our style. When you do that sometimes guys come back at you and they want to try and play our style of hockey. We kind of suck guys in like that and get them off their game a little bit. It makes us play better, and that’s all I really want to do.”
The Bruins found themselves getting some air time Tuesday night — and not just in their game against the Red Wings. Jimmy Fallon handed out some comments on “The Tonight Show,” naming Marchand as “most likely to play a pizza delivery guy in an ’80s movie about skiing,” Dougie Hamilton as “easiest to replicate as a bobblehead,” and Zdeno Chara as “most likely to be two humans sewn together.”
“It’s pretty funny,” Milan Lucic said. “We had something to laugh about this morning.”
Lucic said that Marchand delivering pizza was something he could see. “Out of the three, that one’s probably the best one,” Lucic said.
Marchand said he was mocked “a little bit” at breakfast about the bit. But, he added, “Any press is good press, right?”
Lucic hears it
While Chara gets boos in just about every rink — particularly Montreal — it was a new experience for Lucic when he heard from the Wings fans Tuesday night. Lucic, who was fined $5,000 by the league on Monday for spearing Detroit’s Danny DeKeyser in Game 1, heard “Lucic [expletive]” just about every time he touched the puck in the first period.
“I didn’t expect it at all,” Lucic said. “Part of playoff hockey, and one of those things that makes the game great, I think. When the fans are into it, it definitely makes it a lot more fun to play. The crowd was great here [on Tuesday], and we expect it to probably go up another notch for [Thursday’s] game.”
Asked for his reaction to the boos, Lucic said, “You want to use it in a positive way, right? Try to get it to fire you up. That’s how I react to it, try to let it fire you up.”