When it was suggested that Brad Marchand had done a good job of keeping his nose clean this season when it comes to suspension-worthy offenses, Coach Bruce Cassidy immediately said ‘Let’s not jinx him!” while Marchand himself stepped away from the scrum to knock on the presumably wooden wall. If you follow Marchand on social media, it’s clear he still knows how to mix it up.

But Marchand has so far made good on his promise at the end of last season to clean up his act a bit after coming under fire for the licking incident with Tampa’s Ryan Callahan.

That somehow seemed to be the final straw after a string of well-documented misdeeds in his career.

“There’s still a lot time left,” said Marchand with a chuckle. “It’s a day-to-day thing where you have to be composed. There have been times when I’ve stepped over the line and kind of lost it a little bit (in the past). But it’s a split-second thing. Like I said, there’s a lot of time to avoid some trouble. But, yeah, I’m trying to work on it for sure.”

While he admitted it takes a lot of focus for him to stay on the right side of the line, it hasn’t taken away from his game.

Marchand is in position to shatter his career best in points (he notched 85 the previous two seasons). He’s already at 85 (30 goals) after a three-point night with 12 games left.

“There’s been a few plays where I’ve let up or swung away from guys because that’s the first thing that comes to your head, that this could be a bad situation as you peel off,” said Marchand. “I don’t feel like I’m in as many battles or anything like that this year and I’m not really chirping at all. I’m just trying to avoid any situation that may lead to something.”


RED WINGS: The Red Wings have signed defenseman Brian Lashoff to a two-year contract extension.

Detroit made the move, retaining a key player from the AHL’s Grand Rapids Griffins. The 28-year-old Lashoff had 11 assists in 44 games for the Griffins this year.

Lashoff has two goals and 11 assists in 123 NHL games with the Red Wings. He had six points in 75 games during the 2013-14 season.

PENGUINS: Evgeni Malkin, the most-recent member of the 1,000-point club, was drafted one spot behind fellow countryman Alex Ovechkin and one year ahead of Sidney Crosby – whom he’s partnered to win three Stanley Cups with over the last decade. Malkin is forever being nudged ever so slightly into the shadow of the two players who have defined the league for a generation.

“I think he likes it that way, to be honest with you,” said former teammate Brooks Orpik, now a defenseman for the Washington Capitals. “He lets Sid do a lot more of the media stuff. And he kind of does his own thing and flies under the radar. I think he’s good with that part of it.”

Even if Malkin’s affable public reticence plays in stark contrast to the way he goes about doing his job, where the 2012 Hart Trophy winner, four-time All-Star and two-time scoring champion is a study in contrasts. Hulking yet nimble. Intimidating yet imaginative. A 6-foot-3, 195-pound anomaly of speed, power and skill.

“I grow up in small city and never think I play in NHL and score like, 1,000 points,” Malkin said.

Yet what once must have seemed impossible became inevitable as the years passed, the goals piled up and his reputation as one of the NHL’s most dynamic and daunting players blossomed.

“He makes it look easy, that’s the thing,” Crosby said. “It’s so effortless for him.”


BLACKHAWKS 5, MAPLE LEAFS 4: Brendan Perlini had a goal and two assists, and Chicago held off a furious comeback to win at Toronto.

Brandon Saad had a goal and an assist, and Duncan Keith, Dominik Kahun and Alex DeBrincat also scored as Chicago jumped to a 5-0 lead before holding on for the win. Dylan Strome added two assists for the Blackhawks, who have won four straight and crept within four points of the Arizona Coyotes for the second wild card in the Western Conference.

Corey Crawford stopped 17 of 18 shots through two periods before leaving the game due to illness.

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