BOSTON - As expected, Bruins agitator and elite winger Brad Marchand is going to pay a price for his sometimes sketchy behavior on the ice.
Marchand will be suspended for the final two games of the regular season as the Bruins fight for possible home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs and clearly have something to still play for after clinching a postseason spot.
Marchand speared Jake Dotchin in the groin in the first period of Tuesday night’s win over the Tampa Bay Lightning and was slapped with a game misconduct then, but is being punished as much for a long history of misdeeds than the current dirty play in question.
The play remains and foolish and as selfish as it was on Tuesday night, costing the player a chance at 40 goals this season, and leaving the Bruins without arguably their best player and their clear MVP this season.
Normally a spear to the groin will warrant a warning or a fine as sufficient supplemental discipline, but according to the suspension video produced by the NHL Department of Player Safety, it was “the intent, the amount of force used and the substantial history of Marchand going after opponent’s lower bodies” that advanced this into Marchand’s fifth career suspension.
“This is not accidental or inadvertent contact. This is not light contact that, while illegal, doesn’t rise to the level of supplemental discipline,” said DoPS narrator Patrick Burke in the video. “This is not an attempt to restrain an opponent with a hook that is executed with the stick parallel to the ice, or an attempt to limit an opponent’s movement with a stick between the legs.”
In all it is Marchand’s eighth time being suspended or fined, which makes him a repeat offender in both the letter of the law in the collective bargaining agreement and in the eye of the NHL’s disciplinarians.
The Bruins host the Ottawa Senators tonight in a key game for playoff seeding and close out the regular season Saturday against the Washington Capitals.
With Marchand out, it remains to be seen what the Bruins will do to replace him with Frank Vatrano, Tim Schaller and Jimmy Hayes, who are all banged up, and 20-year-old Swedish rookie Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson still in limbo while waiting for his US work visa to be approved.