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Mike Milbury on D&H: Bruins ‘need some passion’

NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show to give his opinions about the Bruins and the NHL [1]. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page [2].

Asked if the Bruins might consider a change behind the bench, Milbury said it’s too early for Claude Julien [3]‘s job to be in jeopardy. “I don’t think so, no,” he said. “This team has shown remarkable resiliency. When they get down, you think that the wheels are falling of the wagon, they pull it together. And I think they’ll pull it together for Claude again.”

Added Milbury: “They need to loosen the screws a little bit offensively. Go after it, make some mistakes, try some things, do some things differently. Do I think they’re ready to knock on Claude Julien’s door? Absolutely not. I don’t think that’s a consideration right now. Tell me 10 games from now when they’ve won one, and it’s a different story.”

Milbury said there are plenty of other people who need to answer the critics before the coach. “[Marc] Savard hasn’t quite hit the plateau that he wants to be at,” he said. “[Patrice] Bergeron has not had a great year offensively. [Milan] Lucic is not doing what he’s supposed to do in terms of being an explosive chemistry set ‘€” just get in there and create some mayhem. That’s important to that team, and it’s been lacking. I’m on [Blake] Wheeler and [Michael] Ryder all the time for that. These are pretty smart players and gifted players. But the games needs passion. And the Bruins more than anything right now need some passion.”

Milbury said there are individuals showing that passion, but the team’s marquee players need to step it up. “The guy that leads the most for me in terms of effort is Shawn Thornton [4],” he said. “And he does it on a regular basis. He’s a really important part of this team. [Zdeno] Chara needs to pick it up physically. Just because he’s playing 30 minutes [a game], it doesn’t mean he can’t whack and bang and play with some sort of Kevin Garnett [5]-like attitude once in a while ‘€” more in-your-face. All these guys. Savard, when he’s playing well, he’s a bouncy, in-your-face guy. Bergeron in his own quiet way will get there and be in the way and get in the way.

“I don’t know what’s ailing them, but I’m not going to pin it on young guys/old guys, I’m going to pin it on the team and the coach, that somehow have got to refocus their priorities ‘€” not to forget about defense, but to make sure they know that the way they’re going to score goals is causing turnovers. And doing that means ‘€” dammit, there’s not a better word than hustle.”

When the Bruins drafted Tyler Seguin [6] No. 1 overall, it piqued interest in the team. According to Milbury, it created “flawed expectations” for 2010-11. “Because Seguin was drafted No. 2 overall, everybody quickly forgot that debacle against Philadelphia,” he said. “But the team, save for Nathan Horton [7], wasn’t dramatically different.”

Milbury noted that the Oilers have given No. 1 pick Taylor Hall [8] regular ice time and allowed him to make mistakes and mature at his own pace. Said Milbury: “I’d like to see [Seguin] get more of an opportunity on a consistent basis, overlook the errors unless they’re really egregious, and just give him the time, because he’s got speed and he wants to score goals. They could use both of that.”

Milbury said it’s unlikely the Bruins will make a trade that has a major impact. “I think Peter Chiarelli has set the path for this team,” he said. “He’s done a lot of extending and a lot of cementing of relationships long-term with players. I don’t see major moves from outside the organization taking place to alter that.”

Asked if he ever thinks about returning to coaching, Milbury said, “I’m not thinking about it right now. ‘€¦ I do know this, I’d never go anyplace where I didn’t feel comfortable again. I’ve just been through a stretch on Long Island where the only thing we led the league in was convicted felons.”