You know those guys. Almost every team has one (or more). The players that just get under your skin when your team plays against them and you feel so dirty watching them play that you need a shower. Some of them are skilled players, some aren’t. Some of them can fight. Some can’t. Some Don’t. The guys that always skate around with smug grins on their faces that you just want to pound off.
They are the “pests” of the NHL. They go by the names of Matt Cooke, Steve Ott, Colby Armstrong, Steve Downie and Chris Neil. Jordin Tootoo, Ryan Callahan, Maxime Talbot and Alexandre Burrows. Don’t forget about the likes of Raffi Torres and Patrick Kaleta. Some up and coming pests are Brendan Gallagher and Leo Komarov. This is by no means a complete list, but you get the picture. You hate when your team plays them, but in most cases you would love to have them on your team. They play the game always on the edge, and occasionally cross it.
Perhaps the best combination of talent and “pestulence” in the NHL is Bruins winger Brad Marchand. Marchand has become so effective at blending the physical play and his offensive game that he has bullied his way into the conversation when it comes to Canada’s Olympic team in Sochi 2014. Marchand has increased both his points and penalty minutes in the two previous seasons, but seems to have calmed down the extra-curricluar activity to the tune of only 4 penalty minutes so far this season. Even though it is a shortened season, he is on pace to eclipse his career high of 28 goals (already sitting at 10).
Senators fans will get to judge for themselves if he is still a terror on the ice and just not getting caught, or if in his two full seasons he has found the line and gets right up to it and doesn’t step over it. Either way, I am betting that the Senators’ defensemen will know when he is on the ice, much like what Erik Karlsson referred to when he was discussing Cooke. You need to know where he is at all times, keep your head on a swivel, and what his intent is out there.
I think he is showing the management of the Canadian Olympic team that he can play in control, while still adding an element that will get opposing players off their games. That “control” is vital to his chances of being selected.