There was no prolonged conversation after Mike Babcock decided he needed to play Patrick Marleau out of position. He simply called his Swiss Army knife in and said: “We’ve got you in the middle. If you have any trouble with that let me know.” Marleau hasn’t peeped up about it since. He’s played nine of the past 12 games predominantly as a centre, including Friday’s 5-4 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, and his coach expects to continue deploying him in that manner when the road matchups make it advantageous to do so. “I don’t have to sell him on nothing,” said Babcock. “He likes hockey.” It’s an understated quality that has already made a big impact on his new team. There doesn’t need to be any cajoling with Marleau. He is as predictable as the beat of a metronome and owns the coach’s implicit trust while playing wing, centre, net-front on the power play and even killing the occasional penalty. In short order, Marleau has laid waste to much of the skepticism that followed his $18.75-million, three-year signing over the summer. He’s now on pace for 31 goals after picking up his ninth of the season in Friday’s game, camping out at the edge of Scott Darling’s crease with the man advantage and tapping home a nice feed from Auston Matthews.