Brad Marchand expects 'really sloppy hockey' when NHL playoffs begin

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It won't be long now. The Bruins leave for the Toronto bubble on Sunday, play their first (and only) exhibition game Thursday night, and then begin the real thing with their first round-robin game next Sunday.

With only a couple weeks of full-team practices and very few games to get ready, it's going to be interesting to see just what the quality of these playoff games is going to be, especially early on.

Brad Marchand weighed in on the topic when speaking to the media via Zoom Saturday morning, and, well, let's just say he's not expecting the best hockey we've ever seen.

"I think it’s going to be really sloppy hockey, to be honest with you," Marchand said. "We’ve been off for four or five months or whatever it’s been. It takes more than a couple weeks to get it all back and be at the top of your game. And the ice conditions are not going to be good in the middle of summer. So I don’t think it’s going to be great hockey."

That said, at least every team is in the same boat.

"We’re all going to be on the same playing field, and we’ve all had the same amount of time to get ready," Marchand added. "We’re just going to have to battle it out regardless of the situation. It’s still going to be intense, it’s going to be hard-fought, and there’s going to be some nice plays, but it should be a little choppy, especially to start."

Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy also said on Friday that he was expecting some "up-and-down hockey" and that he was interested to see what games wind up looking like.

"People won’t be dialed into the details, so you might see more up-and-down hockey," Cassidy said. "The timing and execution part might make the scores lower because you’re not making the plays, or it might go the other way. You might see some 7-5 games you wouldn’t typically see in the playoffs because guys are fresh and you can play your top guys a lot of minutes. The officials might be behind a little bit, so there may be more calls, more power plays, more scoring. I think it’ll be interesting to see how the games play out."

Despite not expecting the best hockey, Marchand said he is excited to play games again and to get another chance to compete for a Stanley Cup. He said it will definitely be tough to leave his family for potentially 10 weeks, depending on how far the Bruins go and whether families are allowed to join players in the bubble later in the playoffs, but that he feels "fortunate" to be able to do this.

"We’re extremely fortunate in what we do and what we get paid to do and the situation we’re in, and we can’t take that for granted," Marchand said. "It is difficult to leave your family for potentially 10 weeks, but there will only be two teams that do that. Again, we’re very lucky and fortunate to have that opportunity to play and to have our jobs and to be able to what we do, because there’s a lot of people that aren’t able to work right now and haven’t been able to work and haven’t been paid.

"We have a short number of years where we can do this, where we can be a professional athlete, and we have to make the most of it and we have to take advantage of it, because when it’s gone you’re going to look back and wish you could do it longer and wish your career was longer, and you’re going to miss these times."

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