Hawks looking to ignore Marchand's antics
June, 10, 2013
By Scott Powers | ESPN.com
John Tlumacki/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesThe Blackhawks' focus will be tested by noted agitator Brad Marchand.CHICAGO -- The Chicago Blackhawks are well aware of Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand, aka the "Little Ball of Hate," and his reputation heading into the Stanley Cup finals.
The 5-foot-9, 183-pound Marchand has been known to find various ways -- legal and illegal -- of agitating opponents, and the Blackhawks know they can't succumb to that throughout their series which begins Wednesday.
"I've never played against him personally, but I've played against guys like him in the past," Blackhawks forward Brandon Saad said after Monday's practice. "We got a couple of players like that on our team. They're good to be on your team and tough to play against. It's something you have to battle through.
"You can go different ways about it, but I think just ignore them, play your game and don't let them get under your skin."
As the Pittsburgh Penguins discovered in the Eastern Conference finals, that's easier said than done. Marchand mixed it up with the Penguins throughout their series, picking up 10 penalty minutes, including a two-minute boarding one when he cross-checked James Neal and sent him head-first into the boards. Marchand also contributed two goals and two assists in the series sweep.
Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville believes it is important not to get baited by anyone on the Bruins.
"They have certain players that have certain traits about them whether it's skill, whether they play hard," Quenneville said. "But you got to make an awareness of certain guys. We want to make sure we play intelligent not just against (Marchand), but anybody. We want to make sure we play hard within whistles. We want to make sure discipline is always a factor and a key going forward in this series. We want to stay out of the penalty box; (it) is the No. 1 priority."
Bruins coach Claude Julien said prior to Game 4 against the Penguins that he liked the way Marchand was playing in the series.
"He's just more involved, more confident," Julien said. "But every year in the playoffs, not only does he become a target for other teams, but he responds to it. What he's got to do is respond to it in a positive way. We saw him score that goal, the fourth goal, in Game 2 where he took off, scored a goal. I think that's a great way to respond.
"As long as he doesn't cross the line -- we've said that before -- we've got to keep him in check. His emotion is what makes him a real good player. You have to let him play with some emotion. Again, as long as he doesn't cross the line ..."
Quenneville has in the past made similar comments about his own player Andrew Shaw, who often walks that line between being a good aggressive and a bad aggressive for the Blackhawks.
The 21-year-old Shaw doesn't believe he can be compared to Marchand right now, but he hopes he will in the future.
"Clearly, he's a great player," Shaw said. "He does what he needs to do and he's great at it. He'll get under the skin. He'll score goals. He'll skate. He'll hit. He'll try to draw penalties. He'll do it all. I'd like to be like that. He's been in the league a lot longer. I've got a lot more to learn is what I'm trying to say. I'm not to that point yet, but hopefully at some point in my career I will be."