Marchand talks up Marner, Bruins then send Maple Leafs into break with lopsided loss

Brad Marchand can beat you on the ice and, apparently, in a scrum.

Hours before the Bruins and Maple Leafs met on Wednesday night at Scotiabank Arena, Marchand held court at his stall in the visitors dressing room.

Marchand has been complimentary of the Leafs in the past and was again on Wednesday. On the subject of chirping at the opposition during games, Marchand was asked whether he gets into it verbally with any Leafs, perhaps Michael Bunting, who loves to shoot verbal arrows every so often.

Marchand quickly brought up Mitch Marner, who later scored one of the Leafs’ goals in a 5-2 Bruins victory.


“I have not had a whole lot of chatter with Bunting,” Marchand said. “There’s not really many guys who like to get into it. Mitch is out there talking about video games and his dog and those terrible new skates that he has got out. But other than that, not a whole lot of guys who like to get into it.”

Marchand then changed tack, acknowledging he doesn’t know Marner well, but is a fan of the Leafs star’s game.

“I’ve talked to him a little bit here and there, just on the ice,” Marchand said. “I respect his game. I think he’s an incredible player.


“That’s usually what I tell him, just that he is my favourite player. But I do think he is really good.

“When we’re not playing them, I enjoy watching him. The things that he does are really impressive. He is not a big guy either and he’s not intimidated. He goes to the front of the net, he goes in the corners. I actually really respect his game. I don’t get into it with him very often.”

Marchand figured the Leafs on are on the cusp of breaking through in the playoffs. For that to happen, of course, the Leafs might have to get past Marchand’s Bruins.

“I just think they’re dangerous,” Marchand said. “Their talent level with JT (captain John Tavares), he is really dedicated. I’ve seen him over the past years, the way he trains and how he takes care of himself. With (Auston) Matthews and Marner and (William) Nylander, the year he is having, those guys are dangerous.

“It definitely hurts them having (Jake) Muzzin out, he is hard to play against. Having (Mark) Giordano back there and (TJ) Brodie, just that older experience, that’s what you need come playoff time. You see it. The games we play them, they compete hard and they are neck and neck. They’re a good team, they have a lot of depth.”


The Leafs have no chance of winning the Atlantic Division. Boston is 13 points ahead of Toronto with one game in hand heading into the all-star break. The challenge for the Leafs will be holding off the Tampa Bay Lightning, which is five points behind the Leafs and has four games in hand. Tampa will play three of those games next week before the Leafs return to action on Feb. 10 in Columbus … “They’re 40 goals better than every team in the NHL,” Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said of the Bruins. “It’s a significant gap between them and the rest of the league when you look at the season to this point. But when you’re in the game, you’re right there. That’s what is tough. The difference between being right there and winning the game, that’s a significant challenge and hurdle. That team is dialled in and focused and competing and working and they make it hard.” … Another difference for the Leafs: An off-night for goalie Ilya Samsonov, who would have liked another shot on at least three of the Bruins goals. As good as he has been, Samsonov needs the break, both physically and mentally … Bunting had every reason to be upset toward the end of the second period when he was cut on the nose by a high stick, or perhaps a butt end, from Bruins defenceman Brandon Carlo and no penalty was called. Bunting was all over referee Francis Charron as he returned to the Leafs bench and waved his hand at Charron after wiping blood off his nose … Derek Forbort’s goal in the second, giving Boston a 1-0 lead, was the fourth shorthanded goal allowed by the Leafs this season … Samsonov’s stretch pass to Marner for a goal brought to mind the previous time the goalie made such a play — last Monday against the New York Islanders. That’s two assists in five games for Samsonov after he recorded one in his first 109 NHL games … After scoring the Bruins’ third goal, A.J. Greer was roughed up by Wayne Simmonds in a fight. Greer went to the dressing room afterward … Samsonov was beaten to the top corner on his glove side both by Greer and Pavel Zacha in the third period.

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