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Harry Sinden on D&C: ‘If we can’t stay out of the penalty box, all bets are off’

Longtime Bruins executive Harry Sinden joined the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals, with the Bruins hosting the Lightning Friday night. Sinden, who was the team’s general manager from 1972-2000, now serves as senior advisor to the owner and alternate governor. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page [1].

Sinden expressed cautious optimism about the game. “I’m not sure they’ll win. I’m almost sure they’ll win,” he said. “Tim Thomas [2] is, of course the key, the number one factor as to whether we win, for sure.”

Sinden said home-ice advantage isn’t a major factor, but it’s more evident in a Game 7 than any other time.

“I would give the advantage to the Bruins, Sinden said. “In hockey maybe the home ice isn’t as big of an advantage as it is in a couple of the other sports, particularly, it appears to me in basketball. But the seventh game I think is an advantage to be playing it at home. Even though Tampa has got a lot of momentum after that last game, I think it will be offset by the fact that we are playing in front of our fans. I give them a slight advantage for that.”

For the Bruins to be successful, Sinden said they need to take the pressure to the Lightning the way they are capable of doing.

“We have a team that can be a very, very strong checking team. It has the will of any of the good teams in the league to get that part of the game done,” he said. “Sometimes we don’t apply it, we kind of sit back and let the other team come to us. But on the nights that we go to the other team, it’s kind of almost as simple as that ‘€” instead of sitting back and letting them bring it you, you go to them, even if they have the puck. When we play like that, we’re pretty tough to beat with Tim Thomas in goal, really tough to beat.”

While acknowledging the officiating has not been “a raw deal” for either team this series, Sinden said players have had trouble understanding what they’re allowed to do.

“If we can’t stay out of the penalty box, all bets are off,” he said. “It’s a big problem for players today, because the standard ‘€” I’m not talking about the officials themselves ‘€” but the standard of rule enforcement is so high, particularly during the regular season, and then they ease a bit in the playoffs, you may have noticed. You don’t know from one game to another just where that standard will be. And we’ve all seen these what I call itty-bitty penalties called. And so the player’s not quite sure just what he can do and what he can’t do, and as a result, too often the players are reluctant to check hard at all.”

Asked about the woeful Bruins power play, Sinden offered his analysis. “We don’t shoot probably enough, and the angles of the shots are probably not what the team would like it to be,” he said. “If you watch [Zdeno] Chara, he’s partway down the boards on the right side and shoots, which is not a good angle on a power play. Now they’ve got him in front of the net, which to me is a good effort at getting this thing going.

“The power play reminds me of putting,” he continued. “It comes and goes. ‘€¦ All of a sudden it clicks one round and you think you’ve got it resolved and it stays for a while. And then you’re back to your normal putter.”

Added Sinden: “It’s an anomaly. But I really do think they’ll get a goal or two and the putter will start to work.”