- Big Bad Blog - http://bigbadblog.weei.com -

Ed Olczyk on M&M: Put Patrice Bergeron on top power play instead of Tomas Kaberle

Versus NHL [1] analyst and former NHL [2] center Ed Olczyk joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday to talk about the Eastern Conference finals Game 7 showdown between the Bruins and Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page [3].

Olczyk made a comment during the Game 6 broadcast on Versus about Bruins coach Claude Julien [4] needing to mix up the lines to get more consistent offense. While he acknowledged Friday, “I think Claude has pushed a lot of the right buttons,” he stood by his analysis.

“If you look at the [David] Krejci line, with them having the majority of the success at even strength, I just kind of felt at that time, when you look up at the shot [totals] and there’s not a lot of generating going on, you look to try to change it up,” he said. “You look to add a little spark somewhere.”

Olczyk also suggested making a change on the Bruins’ power play, which has struggled all postseason.

“If you are struggling ‘€” and I think at times the Bruins have done all the right things, they just haven’t been able to score,” he said. “So, the issue is, the check and balance is, do you drastically change your personnel and load up? I think for me, I think at some point if you’re going to play Big Z [Zdeno Chara [5]] in front of the net, I think you’ve got to put Patrice Bergeron [6] on a point on the power play if you’re not going to play him down low because you’ve got Krejci and [Nathan] Horton and Chara down there and you’ve got [Dennis] Seidenberg and [Tomas] Kaberle. I think you load up. I think you put Patrice Bergeron on a point on the power play with Dennis Seidenberg [7] ‘€” if that’s my first unit.”

Added Olczyk: “I would suggest loading up your first-power-play unit. And Patrice Bergeron’s got to be on that first power-play unit. I just think he has that ability. He had a quiet game [Wednesday]. I think he’s been terrific since he’s come back, but he was very quiet, probably a little too quiet in Game 6. But for me, I would put Bergeron on a point with Seidenberg. I would put Kaberle on the second unit. And I would load up with Chara, Krejci and Horton on that first power-play unit. If you’re going to go down, go down with your best guys. Go down swinging.

“But if the Bruins can play well defensively, and I think they will, I think they’ll take on the Vancouver Canucks [8] in the Stanley Cup [9] finals.”

Asked about the possibility of rookie Tyler Seguin [10] getting more playing time at the expense of veteran Mark Recchi [11], Olczyk said: “That’s a great question. It’s very fair. There is something for that experience. I think that Mark Recchi has done a lot of good things. He doesn’t get around the ice as long and as quick as he has in his great career. But I think he’s done a few things extremely well. And I think there is something for experience in a Game 7.

“I think Tyler Seguin did what he needed to do early in this series, added some energy, gave his team a shot in the arm, especially in Period 2 of Game 2 with that unbelievable four-point performance. I think you’ve seen Claude at times makes some adjustments, whether it is putting Seguin out there with Bergeron and [Brad] Marchand, or when Marchand had that skate issue the other night he had to change it up a little bit.

“I think Mark Recchi’s played well. I think he’s done a lot of the little things that you need, that a young player I don’t think in Tyler Seguin would be able to do away from the puck and putting himself in position. But again, the guy that has the greatest pulse of the particular team, in this case the Bruins, that’s up to Claude Julien to know the pulse of the team and understand the strengths and weaknesses of all players, whether they’ve been around for hundreds of years like Mark Recchi or a guy that’s been around only for one year in a guy like Tyler Seguin.”

Touching on the goaltending situation, Olczyk said he expects both Tim Thomas [12] and Dwayne Roloson to clamp down in Game 7.

“It’s hard to argue with Dwayne Roloson’s history in elimination games,” Olczyk said. “He’s 7-for-7 in his career, four of those this year. … At the end of the day, if you don’t have goaltending, you’ve got no shot. If you have average goaltending, you might give yourself an opportunity. But I think both these goaltenders will rise to the occasion, because I think they’ve had terrific years. They’re battlers.

“The series is really had a lot more goals and a lot more offense than I ever thought of. I thought it would be a low-scoring series. But I would expect tonight’s Game 7 to be one of those 2-1, 3-1 games, maybe with an empty-netter. Again, I think that gives the edge to the Boston Bruins [13], because I think that they can outdefend the Tampa Bay Lightning [14] in a Game 7.”