NHL.com’s Q&A feature called “Five Questions With …” runs every Tuesday. We talk to key figures in the game and ask them questions to gain insight into their lives, careers and the latest news.
The latest edition features Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand.
BOSTON — It would seem that Brad Marchand has had an unbelievable 2019.
He scored 100 points (36 goals, 64 assists) for the first time in his NHL career last season. He played in the Stanley Cup Final for the third time. He got off to an impressive start this season, one that has him on pace for an NHL career-high 110 points.
But Marchand isn’t satisfied.
The Boston Bruins forward said he thinks he could be playing better. He thinks his team could have won the Stanley Cup, instead of losing to the St. Louis Blues in seven games. He wants more.
That drive is part of the reason that Marchand, the undersized and sometimes underappreciated forward, has been able to remake himself from a fourth-liner to a part of what is arguably the best first line in hockey, and it’s the reason he’s pushing himself now.
This season, Marchand (5-foot-9, 181 pounds) has entered himself into the conversation for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the most valuable player in the NHL during the regular season. He has 63 points (20 goals, 43 assists) in 47 games, which is sixth in the NHL.
Marchand, though, is far more interested in how the Bruins are doing than in how many points he’s racking up.
“At the end of the day, we all play for one reason and that’s to win,” he said. “I’d rather take 30 points and win a Cup than I would 100 points and not win. So at the end of the day it’s all relative. You want the points because you want to help the team win. If you don’t win, then at the end of the day, it doesn’t mean anything.”
Marchand had one assist in a 6-5 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday. He had a chance to keep the game going in the fifth round of the shootout but overskated the puck at the center ice face-off circle and never got a shot off.
Still, the Bruins are doing their best to get back to the Cup Final. Led by the top line of Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, who has 39 points (19 goals, 20 assists), and David Pastrnak, who has 66 points, including an NHL-leading 36 goals, the Bruins (27-8-12) have 66 points, one fewer than the League-leading Washington Capitals and St. Louis Blues heading into their game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; SN360, SNE, FS-O, NESN, NHL.TV).
Here are Five Questions with … Brad Marchand.
Last year, when you were about to hit 100 points for the first time in your career, you said you didn’t think you were playing your best hockey. Now, on pace for 110 points, are you playing your best hockey?
“No, this still isn’t my best hockey. I think that we have a really good team and I think we all benefit from that. A lot of guys are having really good years, but I don’t feel like I’m playing the best hockey I’ve played, compared to three years ago. I just felt like I controlled the play a little more than I do now. Maybe that’s the years [Pastrnak] and [Bergeron] are having that I don’t have the puck as much as I did. I felt like I was making smarter plays more consistently. I just felt stronger with the puck than I do now. I mean, it could be that now teams are a little more aware and play a little more defensively against our line or focus on a little bit more. Every year is just different. But I don’t know why, I just felt like I was happier about my games more consistently than I am now.”
What does it feel like when your line is at its best?
“You kind of feel untouchable. It’s a big word, but we kind of feel like we can do anything. We just feel like we can control the complete game and every time we’re on the ice we’re making something happen. Teams are just on their toes against us. We feel that. We’ll get out of a game, we’ll feel like we didn’t have one shift in our zone, spent the majority of the game in their zone. But our confidence is just so high when we’re on and it just feels like everything we try connects. It’s a good feeling.”
The Bruins got as far as they could last season without winning the Stanley Cup, to Game 7 of the Final, when they lost to the Blues. What are this team’s chances?
“We have potential to have another good year. To go as far as we did, you need so many different things to line up. So you can’t look ahead and say that we’re going to get back there because we have a similar group, but we have the potential to do some damage. But a lot of teams do. It’s just how the stars align, whether we get the right calls at the right time, the right bounces, whether we stay healthy enough. That all matters. Especially in playoffs. Time will kind of tell how it’s going to play out.”
You won the Cup your first season in the NHL. Did getting back there in 2013, when you lost to the Chicago Blackhawks, and last season and not winning make you hungrier to win it again?
“Yeah, it does. It’s tough to lose, but it’s a lot tougher to lose knowing how good it is to win, how good it feels to win. So I think that’s why the last one was so hard, losing, was that we were so close and I know how good it feels to win at the end of the day, in that position. So it does make it that much more difficult. But, yeah, it definitely makes you hungrier to get back there and to want to win. I think once you realize how difficult it is to get that far, it makes you appreciate it that much more so you don’t take it for granted. You only get so few opportunities and you want to take advantage of every single one. It’s just hoping every year is going to be the time that you win.”
Given where you’ve come from in your career, what does it mean to be mentioned in the Hart Trophy race?
“I didn’t know that, if it has been mentioned at all. I don’t pay much attention to that, because so many different things can change between now and the end of the year. It’s tough to pay attention to that. But, yeah, compared to where I started out to where I am now, I never really thought that I’d be at this point. I didn’t really think about it coming into the League, about where I’d be towards the end. But it’s a good feeling to be successful and to know that my hard work has paid off. That’s a good feeling. But still a lot of time left. A lot of years left, a lot of work to be done.”