Brad Marchand does a lot of stupid shit, but usually not like this. Sure, he’s constantly trash-talking, poking, licking his opponents, trying to get a rise out of them through the simplest and pettiest ways possible. But Marchand’s dumb moment in Game 7 didn’t serve any larger purpose for himself or his team. In fact, it might have lost them the Stanley Cup.
With 15 seconds left in a first period where the Blues already led 1-0 against the run of play, Jaden Schwartz took a loose puck out of the Blues’ defensive area. Crossing the blue line into the attacking zone, Schwartz maneuvered around Marchand and got the puck towards the corner. For some reason, Marchand didn’t challenge him or follow up on the play, but instead went right to the bench. A one-on-two for St. Louis turned into a three-on-two, and Alex Pietrangelo zoomed in to score the back-handed GWG.
Here’s the iso cam on Marchand, which shows him fail to stop Pietrangelo and then exit stage left.
Here’s the most egregious angle, in which it very much looks like Marchand just gives up and lets Pietrangelo pass unhindered into dangerous ice.
After the game, a tearful Marchand explained that he simply didn’t see Pietrangelo gliding in behind the puck, and therefore didn’t think the Blues were threatening.
“I don’t know, they chipped it in. I thought that [Jaden Schwartz] was by himself, so I went for a change, and a couple more guys jumped up on the play,” he said.
The Blues scored two more goals after this before the Bruins even managed one, but it’s hard not to think about how different the game could have been if St. Louis was delicately handling a slim 1-0 lead through the next 30 minutes of a game where the Bruins were furiously trying to break them down. Maybe Jordan Binnington still wouldn’t have budged, and everything would have been all right. But after not just weeks, but years of Brad Marchand playing this immensely frustrating villainous role for the Bruins, it’s hard not to see his sudden vulnerability as a crucial, game-changing moment. Marchand baits other teams into mental lapses, but he’s always seemed too cold and calculating to slip up himself. That changed on Wednesday, and with the Blues’ second goal, any edge Boston had as the experienced home team in Game 7 was suddenly gone.