By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) -- Brad Marchand makes headlines for all sorts of reasons, both good and bad. He scores a lot of goals, and also sometimes he licks people's faces. He carries his team for weeks at a time, and then he also occasionally gets told by the league to sit out for a few games.
Most recently, Marchand has made North American news for a sneaky punch to the head of an unsuspecting opponent, and for being a little salty with a reporter or two.
But on Thursday night, in the middle of the opening game of the Eastern Conference Final, Marchand tried a new role on for size: Peacekeeper.
Normally known for being the one in need of a teammate to calm him down, Marchand was quick to grab the arms of Connor Clifton to prevent the young defenseman from retaliating against Jordan Staal. The Hurricanes' alternate captain had just run Chris Wagner into the end boards in the opening minute of the third period, with Carolina leading 2-1. The hit was a bad one -- it might have bordered on being worthy of a five-minute major -- and Clifton was no doubt eager to gain some immediate retribution on Staal.
But Marchand understood the moment, and made sure to do what was necessary to prevent Clifton from picking up a matching minor penalty.
"I would expect that, he's a leader," Clifton said of Marchand's quick pounce. "Obviously we had a power play and it was a bad hit, but he stopped me pretty fast."
Head coach Bruce Cassidy enjoyed seeing Marchand play the role of pacifist.
"He's turning over a new leaf, eh?" Cassidy said with a smile. "Marchy -- listen, he's been in these big games. He's a Stanley Cup champion, so he understands maybe a little more than meets the eye sometimes. There's a time and a place where you really have to be disciplined. I mean, you have to be disciplined at all times, but there's certainly other times where you really have to put yourself in check, so it was great for him to do that."
In this case, it turned out to be a massively important moment. The Bruins scored on that power play to tie the game, and with momentum on their side, they scored the game-winner on another power play just 28 seconds later.
Cassidy said that an early penalty call on Sean Kuraly taught the Bruins that toughness on this night would not mean winning fights after whistles.
"We kind of settled in and realized that tough is winning pucks battles, toughness is going to the front of the net, toughness is blocking shots. It's not how you react in a scrum," Cassidy said. "So we figured it out eventually, and they took some [penalties]. Good for Brad. We've put an 'A' on his shirt at times this year for a reason, and I'm glad to see that he made that decision tonight with a younger guy."
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