BOSTON -- Bruins forward Brad Marchand has produced some interesting goal celebrations during his NHL career, but the one he pulled off Thursday night against the Florida Panthers illustrated what he has been going through in the first month of the 2013-14 season.
After Marchand knocked in a loose puck at 4:09 of the third period, which proved to be the game-winning tally as Boston defeated the Panthers 4-1 at TD Garden, he peeled off into the corner and made a unique gesture, reaching behind his back and motioning like he was throwing something onto the ice.
"Just getting the monkey off the back, pretty much," explained Marchand. "It's been a while."
He added that the celebration wasn't something he already had planned.
"No, not really. It just kind of came to my mind and I figured I would do it," he said.
It was only his second goal of the season and first since Oct. 5 against the Detroit Red Wings.
"It's really nice to finally get one; it's been a while, and forgot what it felt like," Marchand said. "It's normally a lucky goal like that, and it's nice to get the monkey off the back."
The goal was the end result of his doing exactly what Bruins coach Claude Julien has been preaching all season: crashing the net and moving his feet.
"He scored the goal the way we know he scores," Julien said. "He made a great play at the blue line and then just skated to the net and was able to jump on the loose puck. We talked about moving his feet, and when he moves his feet, he creates things and scores some goals, too."
Marchand's initial play that set up the goal was a risky one at the Florida blue line, but he was able to move the puck to linemate Patrice Bergeron, who quickly passed it to defenseman Dennis Seidenberg. The blueliner took a shot before the Bruins' Loui Eriksson tipped the puck as it slipped by Panthers goalie Scott Clemmensen. The puck was just sitting there as Marchand easily knocked it in.
Marchand has only two goals and three assists for five points in the first 15 games of the season. Through the first 15 games of last season, he had 10 goals and three assists for 13 points. When asked how to describe what it's like when a goal scorer isn't scoring, Marchand was quick to make a joke.
"I know you're not talking about me, because I'm not a good goal scorer," Marchand said with a smile. "It's frustrating. You want to contribute and you know you can. When you see the games go by and not only are you not scoring, I wasn't playing well, and it's very frustrating. You want to pull your own weight, especially with the team we have, everyone is expected to play up to par. It was nice to get a win, and we just gotta keep trying to build."
When Marchand is at his best, he's chirping and aggravating opponents. That's something the Bruins haven't seen much of from the Little Ball of Hate this season, but he made it a point to get more involved in that area Thursday night against the Panthers.
"It gets me more into the game, and I felt more into the game out there because of that," he said. "It gets my emotions up a bit and that's when I'm playing better, so I tried to do that a little bit more and I felt a little bit better by doing that."
At the start of this season, management and the coaching staff explained to Marchand that it was important to the team's success that he became more of a leader. His production has suffered in the early part of the season, but he's been relying on his coaches and teammates to help him through these struggles.
"The coaches have been really good with me," he said. "They know I haven't been playing my best, and they've been trying to work with me in all areas -- videos, meetings and whatnot," he said. "Then you really have to take it upon yourself at some point and figure out what's going on. It's been a bit of a struggle, there's no question about that, but the coaches, management and my teammates, especially have been really good to me. The guys have been trying to give me some good motivation and make sure I stick with it."
When the game ended and the Bruins finished with a much-needed victory, Marchand was doing something in the locker room he hasn't done much of this season: smile and chirp. It was evident he felt more like himself. Now, it needs to continue for the Bruins.
"I thought Marchy played real well tonight," said Bruins veteran Chris Kelly. "He was moving his feet. He played well in all three zones. He was in on the forecheck, and it was nice to see a guy get rewarded like that with a goal, and with his celebration there it showed."