The first round of the 2014 NHL playoffs hasn’t ended, but we’ve already seen a little bit of everything, including high-scoring games, low-scoring games, dirty hits and a series sweep. But the post-season is always more fun when fans have an old-fashioned villain on whom they can focus their disgust. And this year, they’ve got a couple gems who are so proudly roguish, they might as well twirl their moustaches while cackling with glee: Boston’s Brad Marchand and the Rangers’ Daniel Carcillo.
Carcillo and Marchand are arguably the NHL’s most talented agitators. Both willingly wear the hate of the opposition and their fans. And both were in prime rabble-rousing form Tuesday night. Marchand absorbed a knee-on-knee hit to his left knee and came up favoring his right leg, drawing criticism from fans and media who accused him of faking an injury.
Whether or not you agree Marchand was engaged in subterfuge, you have to hand it to him for sheer gall after the game, when he answered back to the charges with his typically casual defiance:
Meanwhile, Carcillo earned the wrath of Flyers fans when he scored the final goal of the Rangers’ 4-1 win over Philadelphia and did a little mean-mugging toward the angry crowd that once cheered him when he played for Philly.
Both Marchand and Carcillo are the epitome of players you want on your team, but don’t want to line up against. But honestly, who doesn’t love a little gamesmanship? Who doesn’t want to see the Wings/Bruins and Rangers/Flyers face off just a little bit more now, knowing the rancor has ratcheted up in part because of these two?
Not me. So long as we’re not getting into causing-heinous-injury territory, I’m quite alright with seeing Carcillo and Marchand are playing psychological mind games. Neither is the diabolical mastermind they might imagine themselves to be, but given that the NHL is too often a world of boring greys and safe clichés, the color they provide is welcome.