Bruins winger Brad Marchand has kept a diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. In this second playoff edition, Marchand describes how the Bruins beat the Rangers, what he appreciated Tuukka Rask doing for him, what makes the Penguins dangerous and who has the worst playoff beard on the team. (As told to Louise K. Cornetta)
How did we beat the Rangers? I think we did a really good job of using our speed to our advantage and getting pucks in deep and working down low. We were able to battle down there and take pucks to the net. Obviously with Henrik Lundqvist, we did a really good job of taking his eyes away and getting some goals on him.
Another reason is our power play came up huge this series. We had a lot of goals on the power play, which we were excited about and helped build our confidence with that. Especially in the playoffs, you need your power play to be big. We had some very timely goals with it this series.
Our fourth line, known as the Merlot line, played incredible. They seemed to get better every single game. You saw in Game 5 [Shawn Thornton] with a fight and [Gregory Campbell] with a couple of goals. It seemed with every shift they’re creating something, giving themselves an opportunity to score some goals, and creating some energy for our team.
The other teammates I need to spotlight are the rookie defensemen [Matt Bartkowski, Dougie Hamilton and Torey Krug] who did an incredible job stepping in and playing the way they have. Krug continues to impress with four goals in his first five playoff games. He’s been huge for us.
Tuukka [Rask] experienced some highs and lows. The goal where people describe as the one he fell on his butt for is something that happens in the game of hockey. It’s tough when you see that happen to him. We tried to sweep it under the rug. We wanted to bounce back and make sure we had a good Game 5. So we didn’t really pay too much attention to that. It’s a mistake and things like that happen. He certainly did a great job of bouncing back in Game 5, especially on the Ryan Callahan breakaway that he stopped.
Some of the reporters told me how Rangers head coach John Tortorella called me “probably the best player in the series.” I took that as a big compliment. He’s a pretty hard-nosed coach. For him to give a compliment like that, it’s something to be proud of. They played a phenomenal series and we had a lot of guys step up. This was definitely a team effort.
For some reason, I seem to be a popular guy to chat with on the ice. The Rangers certainly had lots to talk with me about. You know how it goes, we were talking about plans in the offseason and things we did in the lockout. Really, just catching up with the guys out there.
I had spoken last diary about wanting to continue the momentum of Game 7 with my own play. Game 7 was [Patrice Bergeron] with the game-winning overtime goal that I was on the ice for. I was able to follow that up with a Game 1 overtime goal off a great Bergy pass. What’s it like to score an overtime goal in the playoffs? It’s pretty much a blur. Everything happens so quickly. You kind of sit back and think about it later on. Obviously, I was very excited and it was a huge adrenaline rush.
I did keep the puck. I didn’t even think about it at the time, but Tuukka brought it over to me later on. I appreciated that. He came up big for me there doing that. I’ll frame it and put it in my trophy case to enjoy. You hope a goal like that helps set the tone for a series. When you get a big victory like that, everyone seems to feed off of it and build some confidence and momentum. I think that is what we did.
We play the Penguins next in the Eastern Conference finals. We haven’t sat down to look at film on them and go over a full scouting report yet, but obviously they are a great team with a lot of great players. We will need to take a long look at them. It’s even hard to single out a few of the marquee players because they have so many of them. Their whole team plays so well together. If you look at the games they’ve played so far, everyone steps up and contributes. They don’t have any holes on their team. All four lines play very hard. We really have to keep an eye on everyone out there.
But if you had to point to one player, then obviously you know they have Sidney Crosby. He sees the ice very well. He seems to make plays. Crosby seems to be one step ahead of everybody else. He just always knows where to put the puck. He makes it dangerous out there.
They also have Matt Cooke on their team. He’s not exactly the most popular guy in Boston after what happened a few years back. [Editor’s note: In 2010, Cooke’s blindside hit on the Bruins' Marc Savard resulted in a severe concussion.] What happened was a few years ago and we’ve moved on from there. He’s playing very well right now. So he’s just another guy we have to watch.
All three times we played the Penguins this season were one-goal losses. I’d say that makes this a pretty evenly matched series. It’s a different time of year now though. I don’t think either team is really going to take a look at what happened in the regular season and think that is how the series is going to go. They have a new team over there and we have a few new guys. We’re both very excited to play in this next series. It will be a hard-fought battle.
I’m sure a lot of people will want to bring up the Penguins' Jarome Iginla and the trade to Boston from Calgary that didn’t happen. We aren’t even going to worry about it. He’s just another player on that team. He’s a player who has had a great career and is a great player in this league. We’ve got to be prepared for the whole team out there and not just one guy.
Plus, we have been happy to have Matt Bartkowski play with us. He was in that trade for Iginla that almost took place. He is one of the young defensemen who have stepped up for us during all these injuries. It’s funny how things happen. He goes from thinking he is traded to Calgary to staying in Boston and now he’s been a big key for us coming down the stretch. He’s done a great job of stepping in and playing hard. We’re lucky to have him.
We’re very excited to be playing in the Eastern Conference finals. We’re also very excited to have the fan support that we do every time we step in the rink. You are our seventh player out there. You give us a ton of momentum at the right time. Hopefully you continue to be behind us in this next series no matter how it goes. We certainly hope we can pull this one off.
Lastly, you know how playoff beards are a hockey tradition. If I’m going to rank our team, I’d say Z [Zdeno Chara], Bergy and Johnny [Boychuk] have the best ones. They all have great beards that grow in nicely. As for the worst one? I think I might be the one with the worst. It’s pretty bad. It’s kind of patchy.