Toronto coach Sheldon Keefe gives his honest assessment about Brad Marchand after his controversial incident with Tyler Bertuzzi

When the first round of this year’s playoffs was set, the series most people looked forward to watching was the one between Original Six rivals Toronto Maple Leafs and Boston Bruins.

And so far, no one can be disappointed in what has been displayed.

Boston won Game 1, and Toronto won Game 2. In Game 3, Brad Marchand showed why everyone in the league would want him as a teammate and why everyone hates playing against him.

Marchand, serving as a captain in the playoffs for the first time in his career, took over the C for this season.

Given how Marchand is playing so far in the playoffs, it’s obvious how much it means to him.

So far, through three games, he has two goals and four assists. He scored the deciding goal and an empty-netter in the Bruins’ 4-2 Game 3 win on Wednesday. But he also provided more than just goals.

That’s what you get with Brad Marchand: grit and playing on the edge.

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Marchand was involved in a controversial incident in the second period of Wednesday’s game.

Marchand and former teammate and friend Tyler Bertuzzi were jabbing and slashing each other as they made their way up the ice.

Eventually, Marchand took out Bertuzzi’s legs, leading to him falling to the ice. But Marchand wasn’t called for a penalty, which had Toronto fans furious. And they were even more angry when Boston scored just seconds later.

Postgame, Sheldon Keefe commented on the fact that Marchand had zero penalty minutes in the game despite being in some controversial incidents.

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All Keefe could do was praise him, claiming it’s an ’art’ to do what he does every game.

”World-class player, both in ability and how he plays — the gamesmanship and everything,” the Leafs coach said. ”It’s world-class. He’s been in the league long enough. As you can see, he gets calls. It’s unbelievable, actually, how it goes. You’ve got to play through that. You’ve got to play through that stuff.

”I don’t think there’s another player in this series that gets away with taking out (Tyler) Bertuzzi’s legs the way he does. There’s not another player in this series that gets away with that. But he does. It’s an art. He’s elite at it.”

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Marchand always plays with a clear goal in mind: to get under his opponents’ skins. So far, he’s succeeded, but he’s also been great at staying on the right line of things.

”Bert and I get tied up one shift,” said Marchand. ”But outside of that, I’m not really in the mix with anything. I’m just trying to play, and play a good team game. At this time of the year, it gets so emotional. I’m an emotional player.”

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