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Neely on D&H: We have to make it more difficult for Miller

Posted By Ethan Landy On April 17, 2010 @ 9:52 am In General | 2 Comments

Bruins vice president Cam Neely joined Dale and guest host Sean McAdam on Friday to discuss the Bruins series against the Buffalo Sabres.

Buffalo took Game 1 on Thursday night 2-1 behind 38 saves from netminder Ryan Miller, and the Bruins will try to knot things up at one game apiece in Game 2 Saturday afternoon in Buffalo. The Bruins will be hoping that they can put more pressure on the Sabres’ goalie in that one and manufacture some more goals. “Obviously with a guy like Miller, you certainly want to get in front of him a little bit more and make it more difficult for him to see those shots,” Neely said. “That is obviously something that we have to work on as a team.”

As for his goaltender’s play, Neely was pleased with Tuuka Rask’s first playoff performance in the loss. “A lot of us didn’t have questions with him as far as dealing with pressure,” Neely said.  “He is a pretty poised kid and he made some really big stops a few times during the game to keep us in the hockey game. And he pretty much played how we expected him to play.” He added that Rask was screen on Craig Rivet’s second period goal and had “no sight at all.”

Now that the Bruins know they have the second pick in the NHL draft in June, Neely also discussed the two most likely candidates for the Bruins to pick: Taylor Hall and Tyler Seguin. Neely said that he has only seen Hall play, and described him as a, “competitive player, loves to go to the net, he’s got great speed and he sees the ice really well.” He added that, “both of those guys are going to be guys that any team would be happy to get.”

A transcript of the interview is below. To listen, click here [1].

Is the glass half or half empty after last night’s game?

Well, you have to go half full I think. You try to stay positive. More often than not when we play like that we will have better outcomes.

I was disappointed in how your team played in the first period. I thought you guys started a little slow and then the second period was terrific. Why didn’t we see that earlier?

At the start of the game, first playoff series on the road, you know the home building is going to be cranking and the home team is going to want to come out flying, and that is generally what happens. I don’t think we played that bad in the first but we were that much better in the second.

One of the criticisms of the Bruins last night, and all season, has been that there has not been enough traffic in front of the offensive zone. There hasn’t been enough physical play and getting in front of the goaltender. Did you see that last night, and if so how does that change?

I don’t think that in the last 10 or so games there has been an issue with effort or desire. Obviously with a guy like Miller, you certainly want to get in front of him a little bit more and make it more difficult for him to see those shots. That is obviously something that we have to work on as a team. I think we have done a better job of that, but for sure there is definitely more room for improvement to make it more difficult for him to see the puck and get traffic in front of him and keep getting pucks at the net. That is all you can preach.

Cam, I haven’t mentioned the officiating once today. But from what I have read about the new Matt Cooke rule, what Tyler Myers did last night is a violation of that rule. Have you guys heard from the league about whether they are going to take a look at it or not?

Haven’t heard anything yet on that, Dale. It is something that you certainly think, with the new rules in place, that would be a hit that they would want to look at. But I don’t think that Peter [Chiarelli] has heard anything from the league about that at all.

The cynic in me would say that we won’t hear anything about that. I don’t have a lot of faith in the NHL in this case.

I think that you look at no call on the ice — our player wasn’t injured — I don’t expect to hear much about it. But I think we have other things to worry about other than what the league is thinking about.

Cam, what was your take on Tuukka Rask‘s playoff debut?

Tuuka played, to be honest with you, as I expected him to. A lot of us didn’t have questions with him as far as dealing with pressure. He is a pretty poised kid and he made some really big stops a few times during the game to keep us in the hockey game. And he pretty much played how we expected him to play.

Was he screened on the Craig Rivet goal in the second period?

Yeah, absolutely. He had no sight at all on that puck and it was placed in a perfect area. He had no sight at all.

We’ve seen a number of surprising upsets in the first game of some of these playoff series. What do you think happens in some of those instances?

Well, there is so much parity in the league, as you know, now. There is a lot of pressure for the top seeds to come out and win those games, and there is not as much pressure on the bottom seeds going into those buildings. But they are seven game series, as you know Dale, and anything can happen. It is just one game, and that is what we are looking at. We came here to leave with a split, and that is what we are looking to do tomorrow.

Goal scoring was an issue for this team throughout the regular season, and you get into the playoffs and teams tend to tighten up. You are obviously facing one of the best goaltenders in the league. What is the message to the team in terms of trying to get over that offensive hump?

Well, I think one of the things that you have to do is try not to focus too much on where to put the puck. There are times were you go through stretches when you are not scoring and you try to place it, and you take an extra half a second or so and that opportunity is gone. The thing I think is just getting the puck to the net as much as possible because a lot of good scoring opportunities can come from just getting the puck at the net and trying to be more instinctual as opposed to thinking about where to put it. That is one of the things were our guys just fire it at the net and see what happens. We talk about this all the time —get pucks to the net, take the puck to the net and get in front of the net. That is kind of what you have to preach and what these guys have to do.

Is it deflating at all, Cam, to get 38 shots and only get one out of them. Is it tough to keep sending that message when you see that you almost got 40 shots and only beat Miller once?

I don’t think so. Listen, I think you have to be as positive as possible. You have to look at it like, ‘We had 38 shots on net and it is going to come,’ as opposed to, ‘We had 38 shots and only got one.’ So I think you have to be as positive as possible when you are playing.

Cam, how much have you seen of Taylor Hall or Tyler Seguin?

I saw Hall play a couple of games. I didn’t see Seguin … but what I do know from listening to our staff — and that goes along with [assistant GM] Jim [Benning], [scout] Denis [LeBlanc] and Peter, they have gone our and seen those guys as well— is that both of those guys are going to be impact players.

It is hard to believe that nay kind of pressure like this would be put on an 18-year-old kid. But either one of those guys is going to be counted on to be a pretty important player on your franchise right off the bat.

I think, quite honestly Dale, that when you look at types of players those guys are, they probably relish that. That would be my guess. You look at anybody that is going to be picked in the top two or three in any draft year, they want to be the guy. So I don’t think that is going to be any issue. We are certainly not going to put any pressure on anybody, but when you are that type of an elite athlete you want to be the guy.

Without giving away any secrets, because we don’t know how the draft is going to go, what were your impressions of Hall when you watched him?

Competitive player, loves to go to the net, he’s got great speed and he sees the ice really well. Like I said, both of those guys are going to be guys that any team would be happy to get.

I have a feeling you guys are going to hear a whole lot of offers for that second pick, and I have the feeling you guys are not going to listen to any of them.

I am sure Peter’s phone is going to be ringing, but we are in a position that we certainly didn’t think that we would be in —being in the playoffs and also having the second overall pick in a very deep draft.

Let’s try to put it as simply as we can. For the afternoon game in Buffalo tomorrow, what do you want to see differently from your team, if there is anything, compared to last night.

I think that we can get on them a little bit more; get the puck in deep and give their D a little more problems than we did in the first game. I think that will give us some more opportunities. Just keep getting pucks to the net and keep getting bodies in front of the net. But I think that we can get the puck in on their D a little more and have them make some more mistakes.


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