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Chat transcript: Brad Marchand

May 21, 2009

Providence Bruins right wing Brad Marchand  entered the AHL Chat Room on May 21 to discuss the Bruins’ Eastern Conference Finals series against the Hershey Bears, some of the differences between playing in juniors and in the American Hockey League, the NHL players who have most influenced his style of play, and much more...

What types of adjustments did you have to make this season as you jumped from juniors up to the American Hockey League? – Jared from Worcester, Mass.

I think the biggest difference was the speed of the game, and that guys are a lot bigger and a lot stronger. A big adjustment is that in juniors, there’s a lot more time and space, and it’s a lot easier to make plays. It was tough coming in here and scoring goals, the first half of the season was really slow. It took awhile to get used to everything. You have to learn how to move the puck quicker, move in and bust to an area and get it back, and I think that was the biggest adjustment.

I think it was just after Christmas (when I really adjusted). The first half was real slow, and I came back in January and sat down with the coaches and Don Sweeney. I think from that point forward, I had a lot more confidence, and I also had a lot more opportunity. A few guys were up in (the NHL) and there was more playing time, but from that point things went smoother.



What do you feel you need to improve on to have a chance at playing in Boston next season? – Phil from Providence, R.I.

A few things. I need to work on getting bigger, stronger, and faster. I have to make sure that I keep my head up, move pucks around and not be too selfish with it. I also have to hit more, use more body contact. You know, when you watch a (Boston) Bruins game, everybody’s finishing their hits, and I think I have to continue working on doing that. And just continue playing the way I am, you know playing gritty, in-your-face, and being a little pest out there, but chipping in both offensively and defensively.  


Unlike your first two playoff opponents, you only played two games against Hershey during the regular season. What did the team try to focus on in preparing for the first two games last weekend? – Steve from Pawtucket, R.I.

Yeah, we didn’t have a whole lot of time. But our coaches talked to the coaches of the other teams that Hershey has beat out and tried to get their systems down, find out what they did and how they beat the previous two teams. And we just wanted to continue playing the way we are. We wanted to make sure Tuukka (Rask) is on his game because he’s playing phenomenal right now, and make sure everyone is playing the same way we did the last two series – work hard, keep it simple, and play playoff hockey. We don’t want to focus a whole lot on what they’re doing, but more on what we’re doing.

But we went over their systems, had a meeting about their players, and typical things that a team will do before a new series, but other than that we just wanted to make sure we keep playing the way we are.


How important was it to come out of a tough Hershey environment with a split heading into the break between Games 2 and 3? – Andrea from Boston, Mass.

It was huge. We really wanted to go in and make sure we at least took one of those games in Hershey. And that first one was huge for us. We didn’t want to be battling in the second game to make sure we got one win out of it – obviously it would have been nice to get two, and it came close to happening, but it was very big for us coming back here for three games at home to be tied 1-1. We were really happy with how it went, and hopefully we can continue rolling well here at home.   


From what you have seen so far, how dangerous is Hershey’s offense, and how important has goaltender Michal Neuvirth been in the series? – Tyler from Lancaster, Penn.

Their goalie has been OK, you know, I don’t think he’s really had to stand on his head a whole lot. In the first game he made a couple big saves, but we were still able to come out with the win. The second game was more their offense, that’s really where they came alive. They’re extremely dangerous every time they’re on the ice. They have four very balanced lines, six strong defensemen, take advantage of almost any opportunity and can make something out of nothing.

We have to make sure at all times we have five guys back, and everybody’s playing their positions the way they should be. We have to make sure we don’t take many penalties because their power play is phenomenal, with very dangerous players. You know, top scorers in the league, top goal-scorer, MVP, so they’re obviously very offensively gifted.


Do top Providence scorers like yourself feel any added pressure this round to convert on your chances, knowing that Hershey has one of the top offenses in the league? – Ed from Lincoln, R.I.

Yeah, I think there’s pressure every game for everyone on the ice. Everyone wants to make sure they can chip in offensively, and when they have the opportunity, they want to capitalize. I know our top lines have to make sure we continue to score and compete with their offense. If we’re going to go far, everyone has to score and the defensive players have to keep the pucks out of the net. So we have to make sure that we continue to capitalize on our opportunities. They’re a very strong team and their goaltender is playing well for them, so we have to make sure to bury opportunities when we do have them.


Some have suggested that the busy upcoming schedule in the series favors Hershey due to the depth they’ve shown all season long. What do you think of that theory? – Jim from Sutton, Mass.

Oh, I don’t think that’s a correct theory at all. We’ve played three games in three nights pretty much every weekend of the season this year, and we’re very used to it. Three in four is nothing for us. Our bodies train for that, our coaches train for it, the whole team is ready for it, and I think the way it goes in playoffs is you just take one game at a time. You worry about the first game, and the next day you worry about the next game. So we’re not worried about the last game of this three-game series here at home, we’re worried about the first one, and then we’ll worry about the second and third when the time comes.

The first game is going to be huge. They’re going to want to come in, knowing that we have three straight at home, and steal the first one and make sure they at least take it back to Hershey for a game. We’ve got to make sure we counter them and come out well, and really use our fans as a momentum-booster. We’re expecting them all to be dressed in black and gold here this weekend, and we’re really looking forward to it so hopefully we come out fine and capture the first game.


What’s it like to know that you’re just a few wins from the Calder Cup Finals? – Brandon from Wilkes-Barre, Penn.

Yeah, it’s crazy. I didn’t think my first year as a pro that I’d have an opportunity to go to the Calder Cup Finals or I’d be this close. You know, we’re one of four teams left out of however many there are in the league, and it’s a tremendous opportunity. But we’re still a ways away. Three wins seems close, but it’s still a long ways away, so we have to make sure that we go game by game. But it’s a very exciting feeling.


What are the major differences between the AHL playoffs and the QMJHL playoffs? – Isaac from Riverview, New Brunswick

I think the biggest thing was it’s a lot more physical in the American League than it was in junior. In junior, guys were more worried about scoring goals than they were about taking the body. Here, guys are out to hurt and play the physical game. It’s a whole different game, you’re playing with men down here, they’re fully grown, they’re so strong, and they’re used to playing these long playoff rounds. Being a young guy, it’s tough coming in, it gets tiring on the body and you get beat up and bruised. But it’s a lot of fun, a whole new experience, and it’s great to go through.  


Where has been your favorite place to play an away game, and why? – Courtney from Connecticut

I’ve got a few. Manitoba was fun because of how many fans they drew. I always liked going to Portland because I always seemed to play my best games in Portland. And Hershey’s great because of the crowd there. But I also love playing at home, the fans here are great, and it’s good being in our home rink and home atmosphere.


What was your favorite NHL team as a kid, and why? – Kenny from Madison, Ohio

I know now that I’m  with the Bruins organization that I’m supposed to say Boston, but growing up it was always Toronto. My whole family was Toronto Maple Leafs fans, and I just sort of took over the legacy.

It was pretty crazy (when I joined the Bruins organization) because I actually have a couple of uncles who are huge Bruins fans and have been for their whole lives. We were all watching (the draft) on the computer, and I thought I got drafted by the New York Islanders because they had the pick that we were watching. And we didn’t really look at the team when my name came up. Everyone just saw my name and the whole place just erupted – we had over a hundred people there watching the computer – with “He’s going to New York!” And then we looked down and everyone’s like “He’s going to Boston!”


Growing up, which players most influenced the way you play the game now? – Brian from Tiverton, R.I.

I think my dad had a lot to do with the style that I play now. He kind of pushed me to be a pest on the ice, always in guys faces, and pushed me to be more of a skilled player, too. But I followed a few guys from the NHL. Joe Sakic was always my favorite player growing up. I always tried to have a shot like him, I worked on my shot all the time in the basement and tried to shoot like he did. As I got older (Martin) St. Louis became big, and then he became my favorite player because he was small and gritty and very skillful. And then I watched (Sean) Avery play, and Avery kind of plays like I do, so I liked him too. That’s a few players that I kind of tried to follow, just mixed together. 


What are some of the things you like to do in your free time, when you’re not playing hockey? – Andrew from New Bedford, Mass.

Besides hockey, my favorite thing is hunting. I’m huge into that, always have been, and my family has been big into it. We have a few hunting camps back home, and have gone to moose-hunting camps up in Newfoundland and we’ve actually gone bear-hunting. So whenever I have the opportunity, I like to go hunting. But summers I do a lot of fishing and stuff. I miss being home with my family when the season goes on, so I just try to hang out with them as much as possible, and with my buddies, just relax and enjoy my youth.