When Brad Marchand(notes) made the Boston Bruins roster out of training camp, he was thought to be nothing more than a fourth-line energy guy. When the team was down, send out Marchand to provide a spark and a bit of jam if the team needed it.
As we now approach mid-February, Marchand's minutes per game haven't changed drastically since October, but his production has put his name into the Calder Trophy discussion. The rookie out of Boston making headlines was supposed to be No. 2 overall pick Tyler Seguin(notes), not this third-round pick from 2006 finally taking advantage of his big break.
What's helped the 22-year old Nova Scotia native's development has been the promotion in lines and his new mates next to him: Patrice Bergeron(notes) and the ageless Mark Recchi(notes), the top two point-getters on the Bruins roster. Playing with those two veterans creates a lot of opportunities for Marchand and his ability to capitalize on his chances has given head coach Claude Julien all the more reason to have faith in him.
From the Boston Herald:
"I think he was a guy who competed hard, and last year if there was anything, I thought in his first year it was him having trouble maintaining that grit and that type of game night in and night out," Julien said. "As far as his (offensive) production, I always thought he had a great shot.
"I think he's building confidence and knows he can give a little bit more to his team, and he gets more experience. I think the grit is still there, but productively he's gotten better."
For Marchand, it seems like the bounces are finally going his way as he noted to ESPN Boston last month:
"I don't think anyone even thought that I might score 10 this year," Marchand said. "It was nice to kind of have a little offensive play here and there, but I don't care what anyone says. I have to go to work here. Whatever happens, that's how it goes.
"I thought I might be able to score 10. I knew I could make it. Last year I know I could have had a bunch, and they just weren't going in, they weren't bouncing the right way. This year, I knew if I kept getting opportunities they were eventually going to go in."
Playing in a tough city like Boston, Marchand is the type of player the Beantown crowd falls in love with easy: a hard-working grinder that'll give up the body (18 blocked shots), kill penalties, stick up for a teammate when things get chippy, and hustle his way around the rink.
He's a kid who wasn't expected to contribute to the lineup like he has and took his 20-game opportunity last season to heart and adjusted his game to give him a better chance at sticking with the Bruins full-time.
Marchand's breakout season may not be enough for him to pass Carolina Hurricanes super rookie Jeff Skinner(notes) in the minds of Calder voters, but with an extended chance to produce next to Bergeron and Recchi, he should be able to boost his stats enough to potentially warrant inclusion as a Calder finalist.