Brad Marchand's presence plays an enormous role within the Bruins' Game 5 victory


SUNRISE, Fla. – Win or lose, an NHL locker room is an exercise in controlled chaos after a game.

As the Bruins packed their bags in anticipation of the trip back to Boston, the team's equipment staff hurriedly bundled sticks, stacked sweaters and stowed battle-worn gear from a season-saving win in Game 5 against the Panthers.

But because the skates were gathered and the gloves were sorted, one thing remained unchanged within the away locker room at Amerant Bank Arena.

A fresh No. 63 sweater — pristine from the damage and tear that got here with playoff hockey — got stuck in Brad Marchand's booth.

It remained in place throughout Tuesday's 2-1 win, serving as an electrifying reminder of what the Bruins lost in that second-round battle against the Panthers – and what could possibly be gained by forcing a Game 6 on Friday night.

“His jersey is still hanging right there,” Jeremy Swayman said of Marchand’s sweater hanging in his stable. “And it will never go down because he will be back at it very soon.”

Marchand, who went down in Game 3 with a success from Panthers opponent Sam Bennett, has now missed two straight games with an upper-body injury.

The 36-year-old captain didn't see his name engraved on any page of Tuesday's stat sheet. His sharp wrist strike didn't hit Sergei Bobrovsky during Boston's 13-shot opening salvo in the primary period, and his sharp edge didn't work either Help Boston tame a furious Florida forecheck in Game 5.

But though Marchand wasn't in a position to take the ice, his presence was felt throughout Tuesday's win, and not only in his sweater.

Although Marchand was ruled out for Game 5, he still headed to South Florida on Monday with the remainder of his teammates. He attended the morning skate at Amerant Bank Arena and stayed in Boston's room to offer a pregame speech before the Bruins took the ice later that evening.

“As a professional athlete, you're not able to play and watch the games – sometimes as a player you don't realize how damn nervous you are,” David Pastrnak said of Marchand, who had to observe Game 5 off the ice. “And I talked to him. I had that in [2020 postseason] Bubble, it's no fun watching your team fight.

“But he was great. He came by between each class and gave a short speech. And he was there for us. So of course we talked and wanted to bring him back into the series and continue to expand the series.”

Marchand served as an emotional facilitator in Boston's room for a very long time, even before the “C” was sewn onto his sweater. While Patrice Bergeron channeled communication and compassion during his tenure as Boston's leader, Marchand countered that along with his intensity and willingness to bring his teammates into the fight.

This approach from Marchand was on display during his takeover games at Scotiabank Arena against the Maple Leafs in Round 1while his performance (10 points in 10 playoff games) was lacking against Florida.

But though Marchand continues to be on the mend as a result of Bennett's hit, Charlie Coyle believes Marchand's sole presence on the rink was enough to offer Boston a lead in Tuesday's crucial matchup.

“His leadership, even when he’s not dressed – he’s still in here, he’s still leading,” Coyle confirmed. “And he does what he can to help the team in any way he can. This is huge. Just having a guy like that who isn't healthy enough to play, but who shows his commitment and still leads by example. … It goes way beyond his play on the ice.”

Tuesday's win not only kept Boston's season going, but in addition opened the door for Marchand to potentially rejoin his teammates for Friday's game at Causeway Street. A return for Game 6 continues to be not an entire guarantee for Marchand, as Boston's bench boss noted.

“He has to take some steps — just like any of our players who play day-to-day and are injured — before we believe he will be a full-time player,” Jim Montgomery said of Marchand's availability going forward. “So we’re going to take it day by day.”

The Bruins managed to maintain their season alive on Tuesday with a No. 63 sweater hanging of their locker room.

Whatever spark of hope ignited Boston on Tuesday will only grow stronger when its captain dons said sweater at TD Garden in only a couple of days.

“Having him around is great in every way,” Charlie McAvoy said of Marchand. “Just his presence means a lot to us and everything he has inside him and what he means to this team. Having him here on this journey – he's there during the game and constantly gives us life, gives us positivity, and that means a lot to us. … We know what he means to this group.

“And we didn’t say die. We wanted this thing to come back to Boston and give him a chance to do it right and hopefully come back.”

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