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Gord Kluzak on D&C: Bruins ‘have surprised me’

NESN Bruins analyst Gord Kluzak was a guest on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning and discussed the Stanley Cup [1] finals that are set to start Wednesday evening. The former B’s defenseman began his talk about the differences between the Bruins and Canucks, with the highlight among those differences regarding of course penalties. With its power-play unit struggling in the postseason, there’s no surprise that Kluzak would think that the B’s would hope that the referees keep the whistles away from their mouths. (To hear the entire interview, head over to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page [2].)

“Well, I think what the Bruins would want it to look like is very physical, sort of played in the corners and in the high traffic areas, certainly a five-on-five series,” Kluzak said. “I think what the Canucks would want it to look like is very end-to-end, very high-tempo, lots of penalties, lot of power plays on each ‘side. I think those are the two ways these teams are built.”

In fact, Kluzak went so far as to say that if the Bruins are going to be successful in the finals, they’ll need to reproduce their effort from the last game they played.

“I think the model for the Bruins and by far the best game they played was Game 7 against Tampa Bay,” he said. “That was as dominant of a 1-0 win as you’ll ever see. They had Tampa Bay completely stalled out. Even if they had chances, it was one and done. They just layered their defense so, so well, and all of that talent Tampa Bay had was totally squandered by the Bruins defensive schemes and intensity.”

There is also a difference between the two sides in net, according to Kluzak. Although some see the battle between the netminders for each side as a relative wash, the NESN analyst was willing to give the advantage to Bruins goalie Tim Thomas [3].

“The pressure in the Stanley Cup finals will be huge. My guess is if I had to pick between those two guys, who can handle the pressure, who can handle adversity, who can bounce back, I’m picking Tim Thomas. He’s shown that he can do it. He’s shown that he can give up a bad goal, and even within a game, he can give up a bad goal or two in the first period. I think that 6-5 win against Tampa in Game 2 is one of the best games he played in the playoffs. He stopped four or five breakaways. He doesn’t quit. He doesn’t get down on himself, and that’s a critical element to see who this Bruins team is.

Roberto Luongo [4], on the other hand, yeah when things are going great and he’s making the saves and he’s in the flow, great. But if he gives up a bad goal or two in the first period, I don’t see the resiliency in Tim Thomas. So I think that’ll be another thing to watch. Can the Bruins get off to an early lead? Can they put pressure on Roberto Luongo. Because believe me, that fear is in the back of every Vancouver Canucks [5] fan.”

As for the pressure of traveling back and forth from Boston to Vancouver as well as other added pressures that come along with playing on the game’s biggest stage, Kluzak thinks Boston can and will overcome those issues because it’s proven that it can do so already in these playoffs.

“I think the travelĀ and everything else is totally overwhelmed by the situation. This is a team that quite frankly has surprised me. I did not think they would be here. They’ve done it because they’ve shown an ability to rise to the occasion. … This is the Stanley Cup finals, and they’ll be ready to go.”

As for his prediction, Kluzak said because of what he’s learned about the Bruins over the last few weeks, he’d pick them to hoist Lord Stanley’s trophy when it was all said and done.

“I feel like I should pick the Canucks because I picked the Tampa Bay Lightning [6],” he said. “I hadn’t done it publicly anywhere, but certainly if anybody had asked me, I would have told them Tampa would win it in seven. But I am going to pick the Bruins in seven games and it’s because Tim Thomas. I think he will be the difference in regards to Roberto Luongo, and he’s going to have to be the difference. I think the Bruins that have so many inspriational stories whether it’s Tim Thomas or Patrice Bergeron [7] on this team. They just seem to have a character element which has been inspiring to watch. … Vancouver may have the edge in skill, but I think the Bruins have edge in will and that can be the difference in the playoffs.”