Brickley on D&C: B’s need to be ‘close to perfect’
|05.13.10 at 12:40 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley was on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins and their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Flyers that will go the full seven games after Philadelphia captured Game 6 by a 2-1 score Wednesday night. He said that the Bruins have a tall task ahead of them if they are to keep the Flyers from becoming just the fourth team in North American professional sports history to win a seven-game series after losing the first three games.
‘With that kind of talent up front and the four big guys that can really skate with the puck on the back end, this is a pretty good Flyers team,’ he said. ‘The Bruins, they have to get pucks to the net. They have to get bodies to the net. They have to be physical. Hence, their only chance, and in all probability, if they’re going to win Game 7, it’s going to have to be 1-0, 2-1, that kind of score.’
A transcript follows. You can listen to the interview by visiting the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
You’ve had about 10 hours to digest what’s happening to the Bruins. What are we watching here? Are we watching a team choking away a series or are we watching a team that just doesn’t have enough offensive bullets in the gun?
I think it’s the latter. I hate to think that it’s about choking. I think they did not play well obviously in Game 5, so coming into last night’s game, you wanted to make sure that this was a team that played like they wanted the series to end. They wanted to play with that desperation, that urgency, all the catchphrases that you hear, and where was their compete level and all that stuff. I think they played pretty hard, and I thought they played very smart and I think the fact that they just can’t score goals right now is the reason that the Flyers have been able to come back.
It’s not the only reason. Philadelphia getting [Simon] Gagne back has really created a nice three-line formation for them where they’re strong down the middle with [Mike] Richards, [Danny] Briere and [Claude] Giroux. If they can roll three lines, that means they’re going to get the edge in matchups because the Bruins, they try to play their entire roster, but with that kind of talent up front and the four big guys that can really skate with the puck on the back end, this is a pretty good Flyers team. The Bruins, they have to get pucks to the net. They have to get bodies to the net. They have to be physical. Hence, their only chance, and in all probability, if they’re going to win Game 7, it’s going to have to be 1-0, 2-1, that kind of score.
You’ve seen every minute of these six games, Andy. On the whole, who’s better?
I think it’s an even match, to be honest with you. I really do. Take a look at all the games. I mean, Philadelphia won their one game 4-0. Boston won their other game 4-1. Other than that, the other games could have gone either way. Plain and simple.
Would you agree that neither team is really a great team?
Yeah, if you take a look at the whole picture and the teams that are in the playoffs, you almost get the sense that whoever comes out of the East will have a difficult time winning the Stanley Cup given what you see out West. Given what we saw or if you were watching last night, we tried to have one eye on what was happening in Pittsburgh, you know Montreal continues to amaze. Take a look at the bottom seeds that have advanced in the postseason, and you have to think that maybe the strength is in the West this year.
Would this be over if David Krejci was alive and well?
I think so. I think he’s that important to the Bruins team, to their offense, to their ability to control the pace of the game. He gives you that strength down the middle, which is so important. He plays in every situation, and he has that very calm approach to the game, much like [Tuukka] Rask and a couple of other guys on the Bruins roster where they don’t get flustered, nothing bothers them, they play their game.
He is a huge loss, especially when you’ve got a guy like [Marc] Savard, who’s nowhere near 100 percent. With Krejci going down, you need to look to a guy like Savard and say, “Can he turn it up a notch? Can he kind of get back to where he was when he was playing his best hockey?” With that kind of injury and that kind of time, it just doesn’t happen. It takes time, and it takes a long time. He just can’t be the player that you want him to be. So other guys, you’ve got to find another way to win, and it’s really a simplistic approach. You have to get shots through when you have a chance from the point. The Bruins haven’t been able to do that the last couple of games. ‘¦ Even though the shots are even, take a look at the chances. Nothing that’s really equal there.
When the Flyers put in their backup goalie in Game 5, did the Bruins try to attack the net effectively and we just didn’t notice, or did they just do not that?
I don’t think they’re built that way, Gerry. They have a system they want to play, and until they get down by more than two goals, they try to change it. I know it is about adjustments at playoff time, but you have to adjust given the personnel that you have. I mean, you can’t ask guys to do things that they’re incapable of doing.
That being said, you try to be patient. You try to be disciplined. This is not a team that, even though they had success against Buffalo getting behind, you can’t get behind the deeper you get into the playoffs because usually you’re playing better teams. They can protect leads better than in the first round. Yeah, they’d like to be able to add more offense, but it’s really about skating. ‘¦ Like the Richards goal last night, [Braydon] Coburn’s out at the blue line. He walks from one side of the ice across the blue line. Richards rotates out high. Gagne gets open in the slot. Those are the things the Bruins need to do more of with their offense. Can they do it against Philadelphia in Game 7? I think they can, but it’s something they have to pay more attention to.
Is it fair to say that without the offensive firepower that you just talked about, the Bruins almost have to play a perfect game to win Game 7? There’s not a lot of room for error here, is there?
Yeah, it’s got to be pretty close to perfect, John. I think they’ve certainly got to minimize their mistakes. I’d like to see them get the lead and see how [Michael] Leighton reacts to that. Philly is definitely, I mean it’s obvious, they’ve made a concerted effort to get in every shooting lane possible to help out this guy, who hasn’t played a whole lot of hockey since the middle of March let alone in the playoffs. He looked pretty good to me as far as his confidence level. He got good looks at shots. I didn’t see a lot of Bruins directly in his face. That’s because Philly did a nice job of forcing Boston to the outside.
This is a team, the Flyers, they’re obviously dangerous. Three wins in a row. The Gagne goal in overtime gave them some life. I think the Bruins misjudged what they had in front of them in Game 5, a total bad game for Boston. I thought they played much better last night, but this Flyers team was feeling it, and they feel like they have history in the making and they expect to come into Boston and be the better team.
Wideman said after his stick broke in Game 5, “What else could I have done?” What else could he have done? Could he have not skated as if he was trying to touch up that puck and beat the guy to the puck and just keep his body in between him and the scorer?
I’ll preface my answer to that, John, by saying that it’s one of those situations that you really don’t practice. It’s like hitting one of those horrendous lies where the ball’s about shoulder high in the rough. That’s not something you practice. This was a situation that was somewhat new, and everything’s happening so fast. But what he should have done was just turned to make a bee line for his own net, just skate to try to stay in front of Gagne. At some point, when you’re in between your net, your goalie and Gagne, now you have some time to make a decision. But he has to turn and skate. That’s his only option.
I know what he was thinking. He wanted to try to run a little interference in the neutral zone to allow [Matt] Hunwick time to get across, but the easiest thing and the smartest thing ‘ it’s easy for us in retrospect and certainly at the time to be up on the ninth floor and make that analysis ‘ just turn, pivot and skate as if you were Gagne. Just skate and turn to your net, and then pivot when you get back to your own blue line. ‘¦ Don’t try to make the play immediately. Get back, and give yourself a little bit of space and time to make the decision.
Is one team more tired than the other? Is it tougher for the older guys as the series wears on?
It is, it is. The older you are, the more mileage on your body. You try to play with that intelligence and the experience allows you to know the angles and make better decisions so you can conserve energy. Obviously, the older player has the more difficult time the deeper you go into a series. I think what it’s really all about with these athletes, Gerry, and having been in these situations before and in the past myself, it’s all about, honestly, the core values that you have and how much you love the sport that you play and the reason that you play and you understand how fortunate you are to be in the postseason and be this deep. You don’t get those many opportunities no matter how long you play. I think that’s what, when you get up in the morning and you’ve only had a half a day or a day of rest, you still find the energy to get out there and leave it all on the ice on a nightly basis.
If this doesn’t go well for the Bruins in Game 7, what will be their lasting memory of this series? Obviously, blowing the 3-0 lead will be paramount on their minds, but what will they take away for the rest of their careers if this doesn’t go well?
I think just the stigma of being part of that team that allowed it to happen will always be there. I think if you look more internally at this series, I think they’ll remember overtime in Game 4. That was their best opportunity to this point to put this series away. To allow that goal that was, in my opinion, they just played right into the Flyers’ hands, the way they allowed that goal to develop. Just probably the comfort that they had, saying, “Well, we have at least three more opportunities to knock these guys out,” because they were the better team. That’s, I think, what may haunt them a little bit. They had the opportunity to sweep these guys, and if it doesn’t go well in Game 7, I think that’s what will hang around in their minds.