BOSTON -- It should have been the perfect way to head into the Winter Classic, the Boston Bruins snapping a three-game skid with a wild 7-3 win Tuesday night over the division-rival Ottawa Senators that brought fans here to the Slap Shot era.
The Bruins' power play even managed to scored four times in its first game without injured star David Krejci, so that was a bonus, too.
They weren't the only dirty plays on a night when the Senators and Bruins went old school in the third period, with fights galore and Senators tough guy Chris Neil seemingly attempting to eye-gouge Adam McQuaid, or at least scrape his hand across the Bruins defenseman's face.
But it's Marchand who is the story on this night, because he needs to be above all this nonsense if he wants to be taken more seriously as a top-end player.
The play itself on Borowiecki wasn’t the worst ever. A borderline hit in my book, certainly a low one, and a play that’s completely unnecessary. There was no penalty called on the play, although there should have been. Marchand will get a call from the NHL Player Safety department at 4:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, though.
why would you do this. why. pic.twitter.com/SiWnaGOfMC
— Stephanie (@myregularface) December 30, 2015
"It was a simple play," Marchand said of the hit. "I was trying to get to the puck-carrier (Erik Karlsson) and I turned up ice and he was kind of standing there; I just turned up and tried to get the puck-carrier."
Um, that wasn't the view in the Senators’ dressing room.
“I saw it and I think it’s intentional," said Karlsson. "I didn't really see exactly what happened. I haven't seen any replay or anything, but at the same time, he knows that it’s Boro, and Boro had a big hit last game and it is what it is right now, and if it’s something worth calling after then I think the league will do the right thing."
Added Senators center Kyle Turris: "From our perspective it looked liked he kind of got submarined, his legs taken out from under him by, I mean, playing against Marchand, he’s done it before and [we] come to expect stuff like that."
Yes, he’s done it before. He was suspended for a dangerous, low-bridge hit on Sami Salo back in January 2012, and that removes any benefit of the doubt Marchand might have gotten in this situation. The league has warned him about such hits. His reputation precedes him.
"I could describe it in a lot of ways that I'm not going to share with you," Turris said when asked to describe Marchand as a player.
From my point of view, Marchand is such a good hockey player, but shows such a lack of judgment sometimes.
It's really too bad, because this year Marchand has taken his game to another level. He's a terrific two-way talent, enough that he's put himself on the Team Canada radar for the World Cup.
But Tuesday night's low hit, when Borowiecki didn’t even have the puck, well, it just makes you shake your head.
I get that it's not easy straddling the line Marchand is trying to balance each skate around. For him to be at ultimate effectiveness, he's got to have sandpaper in his game, get under the skin of the opponent. That's when he's at this best.
But he must learn to channel that properly. Again, easier said than done, but the greats know how to do that.
"You just to try to play within the rules and sometimes you step over, and you're penalized for it," Marchand said. "That happened in the third period tonight when I sat in the box, luckily they didn't score. You try to play as close as you can (to that edge), sometimes you step over and you get reeled back in."
Midway through the third period, Marchand was called for a slashing penalty on Turris when it actually looked closer to a spear.
All this on the night Marchand had an 'A' sewn to his sweater to replace the injured alternate captain Krejci.
"It's an honor to have it there," Marchand said. "I don't think I really responded very well, taking that bad penalty in the third. I'll have to be better next game."
I think he's worried about the wrong play. It's low-bridging an unsuspecting Borowiecki he should be remorseful about. Luckily for Marchand, the Senators player returned to the game after a brief visit to the dressing room.
Still, the talk heading into the Winter Classic is now about whether Marchand deserves a suspension or not.
Maybe he just gets a fine and a stern warning from the NHL's Player Safety department. The conspiracy theorists were already in full force Tuesday night, wondering how the league could possibly suspend a star player like Marchand when the outdoor classic is already missing Krejci, Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher due to injury
Imagine if he were to miss the Winter Classic because of that play?
"I can’t control that," Marchand that of the league potentially issuing discipline.
Did he think the play warranted being looked at?
"I can’t control that either," he responded. "I was trying to turn up ice to pursue the puck-carrier. It's simple, that's it."
The narrative should have been about how deserving Marchand was of wearing the 'A' on his sweater, and how the Winter Classic was a national opportunity to show how far his game has come along.
Instead, the buzz about Marchand after Tuesday night’s hit is all too familiar.