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Diary: Busting slump; fighting agitator urge

11/13/2011

Bruins forward Brad Marchand is keeping a diary for ESPNBoston.com this season. In his latest entry, he discusses how the refs have influenced the change in his style of play, what the first six weeks of the season has been like, how you might have seen him out trick or treating and what really happened to his beloved Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hat. -- As told to Louise K. Cornetta

Getting over the Cup hangover

The start of the season has been a bit of a roller coaster ride. We were very excited to come back to town. The town was still pretty hyped up about us winning the Stanley Cup. The Cup was around, we had our ring ceremony and it was a very exciting time. Then we got on the ice and things were a little disappointing. We didn't have the start we wanted to and it was a little frustrating. Now the mood has all changed. Everyone is excited to be here. We're trying to do whatever we can do to fix the slow start and we’ve now won five straight.

Coming into the season, we heard a lot about having a Cup hangover. Everyone hypes it up so badly that it doesn't matter how you're feeling. They almost put the pressure on you and make you feel like there is going to be one by drilling it into your head. We tried our best to keep it away from the dressing room but we did have a slow start. A lot of people wrote us off after the slow start and were calling for people to get traded and whatnot. It was a bit of a hectic time. We knew we had to change things around. We still had a lot of time to do that. We did dig ourselves a hole but if we regrouped and got on a roll, we could get back into a playoff position. We have been able to turn things around lately. We still have some work to do but we've taken a couple steps forward.

Everyone seems a little more focused now. At the start of the year, there were a lot of distractions. The Cup was still in town and we had a lot of different functions and things we were doing with the Cup. It seems like now, we are more worried about our game and focused on how we have to play and doing what we have to do to win. Coach Claude Julien has said having a strong shift after either scoring a goal or giving one up is important. If you score a goal and have a great shift to follow, you really build a lot of momentum and get the crowd into it. A number of times this year, we've scored goals on back-to-back shifts. It just seems like we are putting a big emphasis on having a big shift after a goal. If a team scores against you and then has a big shift, it really takes the wind out of your sails. It's a bit of a crusher. So it's big for either team.

Another factor in how we've been playing better is the top line has been on fire right now. All three of them are such a big part of this team. We build a lot of energy and emotion off their line. They're so dominant when they're on the ice and playing their game. With Horty (Nathan Horton) and Looch (Milan Lucic), they're such big strong guys that they are very hard to defend against. David Krejci is so still that the three of them out there are huge for our team and we need them.

Tyler Seguin has been playing on my line and has made a difference. He's a great player and is playing very well this year. He's very fast, very skilled and great with the puck. He's just so good with the puck. He makes things happen. He creates something out of nothing. You just have to be ready at all times for a pass. He has so much speed. He's always in the open. He just seems to be able to beat defenseman to the net and get open for an opportunity. He's able to create a lot out there.

My line with Segs and Bergy (Patrice Bergeron) is clicking really well right now. We hope to keep this going. You know, my line doesn't have a name right now like the Energy Line does. Maybe we should come up with one. If you have a suggestion, send it my way (leave it in the comments section). Getting back to Segs, on Thursday the media and fans hyped up more than we did the whole Taylor (Hall) vs. Tyler thing when we played the Oilers. No one in our dressing room jokes about or pays attention to that. It was just a draft. Obviously, they are both great young players with bright futures. I'm very happy that Segs is here and we got him. He's going to be a part of this team for a long time.

We have had some guys banged up lately: Andrew Ference, Pevy (Rich Peverley), Steven Kampfer and Daniel Paille. We have a lot of depth on our team and it's showing right now. When guys are injured, other guys are stepping up. We just have to deal with it. You have to know this is going to happen throughout the season. Guys are going to have to step up at certain times and that's what is happening right now. Paille got that slapshot to the face and I've had that happen to me. I fractured my orbital bone and my nose. It was actually a guy on my own team who did it! It was in Providence and I took a shot from Zach Hamill. It was in practice too, which made it a little worse. I made him buy me dinner for the next three weeks.

Trying to fight the agitator urge

I want to talk a little about my position. I am a left wing. I haven't played center in a long time. I am very comfortable playing the wing. Center has a lot more responsibility. They're down low in our end. The left and right winger cover their points on the left or right side of the ice. The centerman, he has to play down low and is a bit of a rover. You're around the puck a lot more but you have to work a little harder. It really only matters in your end and off the faceoff, but in the offensive end it's kind of a free for all.

I've talked in my diary before about being less of an agitator and more of an all-around player, but I want to get into that a little more. It's been a little tough to do this. Being an agitator was a big part of my game. Sometimes I need to do that to get me into games a little more and get myself more involved. It's just a way to be more effective when things aren't going well. Right now, it seems like the refs are keeping a close eye on me and I can't do that nearly as much. I get a warning at the start of every game. The second they see me even look at a guy, they say, "You watch it” or “You do anything, we're going to throw you in the box for 10." The threat of a 10-minute misconduct is tough. I really don't want to sit in the box for that long. It's tougher to get away from it a bit, but it's nice to just be able to focus on playing hockey and being a better player.

It's not easy though. Being an agitator just comes out of me at times. I don't even mean to do it. It's just how I am. It's reactionary. It's tough to get away from it at times. Because the refs are on me and watching me, I can't really do anything even if there have been times when guys come at me. I just kind of talk back to them and that's it but then the ref still comes at me. That has been a little frustrating even though it's understandable because they are trying to keep the game calm. This year my only major fight has been with the Canadiens’ P.K. Subban. We won a gold medal at World Juniors together. He had a big hit on me toward the end of last year. I think it's played up a little more than what it really is. This is all a part of the game and we're both just trying to help our teams. Other than that, there hasn't been much because the refs are keeping a close eye.

The kind of player I want to be is strong defensively and be accountable. I want the coach to know he can count on me to be put into the game at any time. I want to be physical. Basically, I want the ability to play on any line up and down the lineup. I want to be counted on for energy, to be physical and to score goals is the role I want to play. I just want to be able to do all that. Look, I know in the playoffs that the fans really enjoyed the shots and the dirty stuff and they embraced me because of it. There is definite added pressure because of that. I don't want to let them down but at the same time, I don't want to do things that are going to cost my team on the ice. It's kind of a double-edged sword.

Part of my game is planting myself in front of the net. It's a little tough to do especially when you're a little guy and you're battling guys in front who are 6-foot-3. It's very tough. They're trying to push you out of the way. You just have to try and sneak your way in and out of there. You watch guys like Daniel Briere of the Flyers who is one of the best scorers in the league. Pretty much all of his goals are right around in front of the net. That's where most of the goals are scored in the NHL and that's where you have to be.

Have I heard people say I am going to suffer a sophomore slump? Yes, I heard the talk because any time a guy has a decent first year, people are going to say he's going to suffer a sophomore slump. You just have to worry about what you have to do to not make that happen. It's a little frustrating when things aren't going well. But it's a very long year and there are going to be ups, like getting two goals last Thursday, and downs. That's just the game of hockey, making sure you don't get too high or too low.

Here and there

For those wondering, since we retired the Bruins '80s windbreaker that we gave to the player of a game we won, we have not replaced it. That's more of a playoff thing. We'll find something when the time comes. In the meantime, the boys have been having fun with Movember (a moustache growing campaign to raise money awareness for men’s health, specifically prostate cancer) and trying to grow mustaches. I decided to do the mustache and goatee combo. My prediction for the best ones will be Thorty (Shawn Thornton), who got a jump on things with the handlebars going there. Bergy has a nice dark one and Timmy (Tim Thomas) has a dirty little stache on him too. Between those three, one of them will be the best.

Holidays are coming up and we just had Halloween. You may have seen me dressed up as Prince Charming when I paid a visit to Children's Hospital. I didn't really have a choice in the matter. We were given our costumes. For actual Halloween, I went out trick or treating for a bit. I went with my girlfriend and her brother and a couple of her friends. I went as Woody from Toy Story. I rocked the cowboy outfit. The hat I was wearing made it that no one recognized me. I like my Peanut M&M's and got a few of those. I was pretty jacked.

The best costume I’ve ever had was being Leonardo from the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Leonardo was always my favorite. It's true that I am a huge fan. To this day I still love them. Just the other day, I watched their movie again. It's something I grew up loving. I thought they were pretty cool and it stuck with me. You might remember last year, I'd wear a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle hat, but that got tossed. Guys decided they didn't like it too much. I came in one day and it was in the garbage can. I had to leave it.

Next up is Thanksgiving. Us Canadians who are down here have the perfect situation. We get to celebrate the Canadian one and then we celebrate the American one. We get two Thanksgivings each year. Stuffing for me takes the cake. I love stuffing and it gets me every time. For dessert, it doesn't matter the time of year because it's always apple crisp with ice cream. I'll be begging for some of that. We'll be home this year. So I'll go down to my girlfriend's place and have dinner down there for the day and relax. I can tell you the cooking will be done by anybody but me. I don't really care who does the cooking, just as long as there is food. Then the next day we have our Black Friday game in the afternoon against Detroit. I think it's cool the NHL is looking to market the game. Any way we can build a fan base and get people to watch the game is big for the sport. It should be exciting.