There's no question that Boston Bruins forward Brad Marchand is constantly under a magnifying glass when it comes to his actions on the ice, but there's also no question that the level of scrutiny he receives is a product of the well-earned reputation that he has built for himself as a player in the National Hockey League.
On Thursday night the Bruins agitator was hard at work getting under the skin of the Toronto Maple Leafs and credit to Marchand there are very few players in the league who can provoke the anger of opposing teams the way that he does. While Marchand's tactics may not have worked on the Maple Leafs' themselves, there's no doubt that his actions in the final seconds of the first period drew the ire of the Maple Leafs fan base.
There was almost no time left on the clock in the first and both the Leafs and the Bruins were fighting for the puck in the Boston zone, among the players fighting for the puck were Marchand himself and Toronto Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner. After some back and forth between the players involved Bruins forward David Krejci eventually fell on top of the puck and it was pretty clear he wasn't going to be moving, that's when Marchand saw his opportunity.
The Bruins agitator grabbed Marchand by the back of the head and began attempting to smash Marner's head against the ice, thankfully Marner got his hands up in time to absorb most of Marchand's weight and his head didn't impact too hard against the ice. Not satisfied with his cheap shot, Marchand could be seen repeatedly trying to shove Marner's head into the ice, pushing down on the young Leaf's head over and over again.
Unsurprisingly fans at the Air Canada Center let out a very loud and pronounced collective boo when the replay was shown on the big screen, but Marchand was able to get away without a penalty being called against him on the play. To be fair to the officials in this game they have been letting the Leafs and the Bruins play tonight, and even Maple Leafs forward Zach Hyman got away with one earlier tonight when he yanked Bruins star Charlie McAvoy down to the ice from behind earlier in the evening. If you need any indication that the Bruins weren't happy about that play you need look no further than the fact that McAvoy nearly destroyed the door to the Bruins bench when he returned to sit down and catch a breather.
It's unclear if Marchand was looking to retaliate for the play that occurred earlier on McAvoy or if he was merely trying to disrupt Marner who has been one of the best players in the game so far this evening, but of course everyone takes notice when it's Marchand doing just Marchand things on the ice.
Of course neither of these plays are likely to have any impact on which of these two teams will win the game, but perhaps they are a sign that tempers are starting to flare in a serious way in this series.