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Tuesday, December 13, 2011
Bruins' Brad Marchand cleans up

By Joe McDonald
ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- The day after the NHL fined Brad Marchand $2,500 for a boneheaded penalty, the Boston Bruins forward responded with a positive performance, something he's becoming accustomed to doing after he gets slapped for disciplinary reasons.

When the slew-footing incident occurred Dec. 5 in Pittsburgh, Bruins coach Claude Julien addressed it in a serious manner with Marchand, and the league did its part by handing out the fine Monday afternoon.
Brad Marchand
After contributing just one assist in five games, Brad Marchand scored two of the Bruins' three goals Tuesday.

Julien said he would not tolerate such a dangerous play from his players and made that point known publicly Tuesday morning. Marchand responded and scored a pair of goals to help the Bruins to a 3-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday night at TD Garden.

"Offensively he was good tonight," Julien said. "He scored some big goals for us. On both of them, [Patrice Bergeron] won the draws and was making things happen, but certainly Brad is capable of using his shot and scoring some goals for us, so it was nice to see."

Earlier in the day, Julien said Marchand is at his best when he's being a "good brat, not a bad brat," and that's something both coach and player have been working on the past two-plus seasons.

Julien has been able to effectively tame the bad brat side of Marchand, whether through one of their many talks or by benching him, which Julien has done a few times.

And when Marchand has been disciplined by his coach or the league, he usually regroups.

"I know when I do and I know there are consequences," Marchand said. "I've been benched plenty of times throughout my career, it's nothing new, but the big thing is you have to respond and make sure you learn from it.

"You want to show that you can learn from mistakes, and you want to be able to bounce back and show that it doesn't affect your game. I haven't been playing my best of late, so it's nice to bounce back here."

Marchand is absolutely right about not playing well recently.

Until his two-goal performance Tuesday, Marchand hadn't scored since Nov. 30, a span of five games in which he chipped in with only one assist.

Bergeron, who assisted on both of Marchand's tallies against the Kings, has helped his linemate curb his negative tendencies. He said when Marchand responds in a positive way, it only helps the team.

"It's huge," Bergeron said. "He's got that character, and he's shown that since he's been with us last year. Every time something happened, whether he was challenged by Claude or challenged himself personally, he's always stepped it up the next game. He was huge for us in the playoffs last year, especially in the finals, and that tells you a lot about his character."

Before anyone gives Marchand too much credit for Tuesday's victory, it's no secret Bergeron makes the players around him better.

The Bruins spend a lot of time emphasizing the importance of winning faceoffs and starting with the puck, instead of being forced to chase it down. Bergeron is an ace in the dot, and on Tuesday night, he won 16 of 19 drops, with two of those wins resulting in Marchand goals.

"He's, if not the best, one of the tops in the league," Marchand said. "He's very consistent every night. He's very strong on the draws, and it's huge for our team with the amount of time we start with the puck because of how well he is on draws. It's a big thing because you don't want to spend the whole game chasing the puck off faceoffs, and when you're able to win the way he does, it makes it easy for us."

With Boston holding a 1-0 advantage, thanks to the effort of Zach Hamill, who provided the assist on Rich Peverley's goal at 6:32 of the first period, Bergeron showcased his prowess at the faceoff dot and helped the Bruins pad their lead.

Bergeron won the draw clean, and Marchand was ready for the one-timer that beat Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick at 7:43 of the second period to give Boston a 2-0 lead.

"That first one, we've tried that a few times this year but it hasn't come together," Marchand said. "It's a tough play to do because everything has to go right, but when it works, it feels good."

It's not always about Bergeron winning the draw. He can win the battles for the loose puck as well.

Bergeron proved that point on Marchand's second goal at 5:35 of the third period. After the faceoff to the right of Quick, the puck trickled into the corner. Bergeron chased it down and poked it to Marchand, who capitalized on the chance for his 11th goal of the season.

"That next goal was going to be a big goal for either team," Julien said. "For us, it gave us some breathing room with a three-goal lead. If it was them, it would have become a real game, and the way we were giving them that space, and the amount of shots they were getting, it would have made for a really interesting finish. That was a big goal."

Let's be honest: There's no way Marchand will ever become a good brat through and through because that would be detrimental to the team's success. He'll continue to chirp. He'll continue to get dumb penalties, and his wallet will be slightly lighter than it should be during his NHL career.

Julien, and the rest of the Bruins, wouldn't want it any other way.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.