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Mike Milbury on midday show: ‘I like that trend’ of physical play from B’s

03.02.11 at 12:57 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

NESN and NBC Sports analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the WEEI midday show Wednesday to talk about the red-hot Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page.

The B’s completed a perfect six-game road trip with a 1-0 victory over the Senators on Tuesday night. Milbury said the resurgence of Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder was a key from the trip.

“The sign that was great for me was Nathan Horton doing something to make a difference,” Milbury said. “Because Horton and Ryder on the right side have to be active and productive. They’ve been uneven all year long. I think it’s important that they stay this way. The fight [Horton] had against Theo Peckham in Edmonton was a brawl. He came out clearly on top. This guy is tough. If he can get the fuse lit for him, the Bruins are going to be a very dangerous team to beat.

“The same is true of Ryder, who I actually think has skated much better along the road trip, and even prior to the road trip, than he has at any time since I’ve seen him. The puck’s not going in as regularly as I think he’d like, but you can see that he’s getting things done.”

Tomas Kaberle, acquired from the Maple Leafs last month, is not signed past this season. Asked if it would be worth it to the Bruins to only have the defenseman for a third of a season, Milbury said: “When you have a chance to make a run for the roses, you’ve got to take it. You’ve got to take advantage of it.”

Milbury said the B’s focus on physical play sparked their surge this season. “I, for one, thought they were soft in the first 50 games of the season or thereabouts,” he said. “I didn’t think they were playing very physically. I thought it was Shawn Thornton and Greg Campbell and [Brad] Marchand that were involved, and other guys that play a more prominent role were playing a little bit light in the loafers.

“But I think that now, after the Dallas game, after the Montreal game, there was a feeling that, ‘If we can hang together, we can play tough with anybody.’ I think they have that reputation now in the league that they’ve come together. From all of what I’ve heard, the locker room’s a good place to be.

“And I’ve seen signs of not only Horton and Ryder starting to ratchet their games up a little bit, but much more importantly, I’ve seen [Milan] Lucic ratchet up his game in terms of physical commitment. There was a long stretch where he was not involved at all physically. But after these trades occurred, he seemed to really think, ‘Well, this is a time when we can maybe get something special done here.’ I like that trend. I don’t have much doubt about their ability to play tough with tough teams and to take it to another level. Obviously, we’ll see when the games are meaningful. But it seems like they’re better prepared than they have been at any time in the last three or four years to get it done.”

Milbury said he considers the Bruins and Flyers to be even, and he expects one of those teams to win the Eastern Conference. Asked if there were any teams the Bruins should be worried about in the opening round, Milbury said: “I don’t want to see Buffalo and Ryan Miller. And heaven forbid, if the New Jersey Devils make a miraculous comeback and get into the playoffs, I would hate to see them try to strangle the life out of a hockey game against any team, especially Boston.”

Read More: Michael Ryder, Mike Milbury, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton
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