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Aaron Ward on M&M: ‘It’s not a quick fix’ to put Tyler Seguin on power play

Posted By Jerry Spar On May 16, 2011 @ 1:51 pm In General | 2 Comments

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Aaron Ward

NHL analyst and former Bruin Aaron Ward joined the Mut & Merloni show Monday afternoon to talk about the Eastern Conference finals, which the Bruins trail 1-0 after Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page [2].

Ward cautioned Bruins fans not to panic despite the rough start.

“It’s a feeling-out process,” he said. “It’s funny to listen to Tampa talk about all the time they had off, and [Martin] St. Louis was utterly concerned about the rust level. They obviously didn’t show a whole lot of rust in Game 1. And I think Boston did. That’s why it’s seven games. The sky’s not falling yet. There’s no Chicken Little yet.”

The Bruins power play continues to be a disaster, with an 0-for-4 performance in Game 1 making the B’s 2-for-41 in the postseason. However, Ward said he doesn’t think rookie Tyler Seguin is the answer.

“If they were going to shake it up they would have done it a while ago,” he said. “Right now, if the stat’s right, they’ve got the third-worst power-play percentage in the last 25 years in the playoffs. And that’s just one of those things where maybe it’s a personnel thing. And it’s not that someone’s not getting it done. But maybe you shake it up and you integrate some of the first power play with the second power play, get some new life, new blood in it.

“And I know everybody’s screaming for Seguin, but I think you have enough veteran guys in that locker room that can figure it out amongst themselves. You don’t need to put a young guy on and put the pressure on him to direct the power play.”

Ward said Claude Julien was proven correct to avoid making major moves when the Bruins fell behind the Canadiens 2-0 in the opening round, and that’s the way he’ll continue to manage his team.

“It’s how Claude coaches,” Ward said. “And Claude has my utmost respect. He’s a guy that sticks with what got him there. He’s not a knee-jerk-reaction kind of coach. He knows what he wants out of his team. He knows the philosophies to take into a game. Everybody was screaming for Seguin during the Montreal series and they get out of it. Then they cruise through Philadelphia. It’s part of the playoffs.

“Everybody looks for that, ‘Well, it’s a quick fix.’ It’s not a quick fix. One player doesn’t change the direction of an entire team. Twenty guys on the ice can have that effect. One guy doesn’t have it. One guy can hurt a team. But one guy can’t drastically improve the percentage of winning a team. A guy getting in there, a guy like Seguin can do a lot of things — like, nice, young, fresh legs, very healthy, fresh outlook on the game — and be a catalyst in that manner. But he’s got to be given an opportunity to get himself accustomed to the playoffs.”

Looking at specific things the Bruins can do to improve their power play, Ward said hitting the target is No.1 on the list.

“I think there’s simple fixes,” he said. “It comes down to not being so picky with your shots. When you get shots, get them on net. … The thing I noticed most was when they got an opportunity, when Tampa wasn’t blocking them, the shots they took went high, they went wide. It just comes down to simple focus.

“That’s part of what the Boston Bruins — they have so many veterans that they can remedy this quick. I wouldn’t sound the alarm. It’s not time to dismantle a team in the playoffs. They’ll be fine.”

Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic were ejected in the final minutes of Game 1 after throwing punches at Lightning players. Ward memorably took a punch to the face from Scott Walker of the Hurricanes during the conference semifinals in 2009, but he said this was a different situation, noting that a player such as Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman might be affected by the roughhousing.

“I think that was more of a message that was being sent,” he said. “Hedman’s a pretty good defenseman. During the playoffs, you have to gain every added advantage you can. And if you try and get in a guy’s head and get it across to him that, ‘OK, you guys have beat us on the scoreboard, but going forward, we have six more games in our estimation to play, we’re coming after you,’ that goes far in a series.

“It’s a guy that he said he didn’t expect it to come, but you should expect it, much like people say I should have expected it. It’s the playoffs, and you’re going to do anything at this point to win. Is it the best and most sportsmanlike thing to do out there? Nah, probably not. But it’s part of the game. The purists in hockey will say it’s part of the game. And the people who are absolutely against violence will scream and throw their hands up in the air. End result, I think it may have some bearing in Game 2, knowing that Hedman’s got these two guys looking at taking a strip off him.”


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