With the Final series in sight, it’s time to take a look at some of the matchups. One integral role is that of the pest. Each team has one guy that opponents hate and home teams love. In 2010 it was Dave Bolland, but it’s 2013 and Bolland was traded… no wait, he’s just been invisible. No, this year’s rat has been Andrew Shaw, and he’s excelled at it. On the other end of the rink, we have Brad Marchand. He was with the Bruins when they won the cup, and he’s still around now, excelling at his agitator role. Here’s how these two skating nightmares match up.
Andrew Shaw #65: 5’10” 180 lbs of pure Shaw goodness
Shoots: Right Born: 7/20/1991 – Bellville, Ontario Drafted: 5th round by the Chicago Blackhawks
Playoff stats: 4 goals, 3 assists, 1 GWG, +0, 26 PIMs, 47 hits, 2 blocks, and 8 takeaways
Brad Marchand #63: 5’9” 183 lbs of smirking annoyance
Shoots: Left Born: 5/11/1988 – Halifax, Nova Scotia Drafted: 3rd round by the Boston Bruins
Playoff stats: 4 goals, 9 assists, 1 GWG, +7, 16 PIMs, 14 hits, 10 blocks, and 14 takeaways
Offense: These two players bear a fair resemblance in their stats. Both have four goals, and both lead their team in penalty minutes. Of those four goals, each had one game winning goal, which shows their ability to provide some clutch offense. The main difference comes down to assists, which is where Marchand pulls ahead with nine over Shaw’s three. While I’m counting hits as part of the defensive portion, I want to note that Shaw’s hits on the fore-check have helped create some offense. Still, offensively the advantage goes to Marchand.
Defense: Shaw comes out of the gate with a huge advantage in hits. Shaw’s 47 hits dwarf Marchand’s 14. I’m not ignoring the fact that Marchand is the more responsible player defensively. Marchand has eight more blocked shots and six more takeaways. When you add that to his +7 plus/minus, it’s easy to see that he tends to be fairly sound positionally. If these were first liners, I would have to say that Marchand has the advantage, but as role players, Shaw’s hits can’t be overlooked. Shaw’s hits, in addition to his other defensive stats, make up for his lack of positional play. Defensively, these two are a Draw.
Agitation: Shaw’s hits factor in on both sides of the puck, and most importantly, it gets on opponents’ nerves. After a talk with Handzus, Shaw has gotten a better handle on his PIM’s while keeping up his constant pestering of his opponent. Marchand has toned down his extra-curricular activities this season, but he hasn’t stopped them either. He is an expert in the art of the post whistle scrum, and his smirk can cause pacifist monks to lash out. While the Hawks have shown some susceptibility to post whistle shenanigans, I don’t think they will engage too much this time. The Hawks seem to have learned from the Detroit series that it doesn’t pay to give in to reckless behavior, and we saw a smarter performance from them during the LA series. This swings this category in Shaw’s favor. His constant pursuit of the puck and his unrelenting hits will be a lot harder to ignore than a face wash. Advantage: Shaw.
Final Judgement: DRAW! Both players have their advantages and disadvantages. Marchand is a bit more experienced and has toned down agitator role. Shaw on the other hand, has learned a few key lessons on his way to the final and has flourished as the new Hawks rat.