January 10, 2012

Bruins must make do without Marchand

By Jesse Connolly

While one player on a team with dynamic depth may seem easily replaceable, Brad Marchand’s influence on the Bruins’ success in the first half of the season has been pretty significant. 

Boston will be without their current co-leader in goals for the next five tilts, as Marchand was suspended for five games for his hit on Sami Salo in Saturday’s game against the Canucks.

“He’s a big part of our offense,” linemate Patrice Bergeron said of the 16-goal scorer. “He’s been having a great year, so we’re going to miss him. But at the same time, we’ve done that before with missing ‘Looch’ (Milan Lucic) earlier in the year. We all need to step up.

“I know ‘Benny’ (Pouliot) is probably going to be with us and he’s a great player. He’s going to fill in and do the job. As a team and as a whole unit, we just have to play our game and do the job.”

Pouliot (right) took Marchand’s spot on a line with Bergeron and Tyler Seguin last week when No. 63 was felled by the flu. He chipped in three assists in a 9-0 blowout of the visiting Flames.

“He’s a player that I think everybody’s seen him from day one to now (that) he’s improved a lot and fit in better,” Julien said of Pouliot. “He’s done exactly what we were anticipating at the beginning when we said let’s be patient with this guy and give him a chance. Some guys fit in quicker than the others, but he’s done a great job.

“You look at the goal Peverley scored [against Calgary], he poke checks the puck away on the fore check and he does that a lot. He has a good stick, he turns a lot of pucks over and he makes plays and he’s contributing too now. So to me, I like the way he’s played and it’s an opportunity for him to jump in with that line and help out.”

Marchand’s absence also means the return of Zach Hamill to the lineup. Julien has yet to decide whether Hamill will be on the wing or at center, as linemates Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley are also both capable of playing any forward position.

“You know Kelly can play the left, Zach Hamil can play center,” said Julien. “Peverley can play center, and Zach can play right. Kelly can play center and the other two – so it can go either the way. The one thing I’ll do is see how the game goes with certain guys in certain positions, and if it doesn’t go well I’ll just move guys around so it goes as well as the other lines.”

In the end, the Bruins must make due with whatever situations arise because of Marchand’s ban. They have the utmost confidence that all of the pieces will fall into place.

“We know we can do it,” said Bergeron. “We know we have the depth in this dressing room and in those times it comes in handy. We just have to go out there, have everyone chip in and play our game.”