Barry Melrose on M&M: ‘Boston has to win this game to have a chance of winning this series’
|06.08.11 at 2:45 pm ET|
ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Wednesday night’s Game 4. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
When asked if he would be sitting with the Green Men at the game, Melrose joked: “I stay away from the Green Men. I can’t even believe they got into the country. I’m a little embarrassed about letting those guys in.”
He added: “We keep al-Qaida out, but we let these two guys in? What’s that all about?”
Melrose said that the finger-taunting in Game 3 has helped made this series an exciting one. However, it may come back to bite Boston in Game 4.
“I think [Alexandre] Burrows should’ve been suspended,” Melrose said. “I said that from Day 1. I think that if he would’ve been suspended that would’ve put away the finger crap. But I like the finger stuff. I thought it was funny. I had some fun with it. It’s interesting. Five years from now when we’re talking about this series, what are we going to talk about? We’re going to be talking about that stuff with the fingers and [Milan] Lucic and Burrows and stuff like that. I have no problem with that. It’s interesting. But, the NHL doesn’t want it.
“Obviously, the referees are going to crack down tonight. They’re going to be reffing very close to their vest. I think that favors Vancouver. Boston’s got to be aggressive. They’ve got to be physical. And the referees are going to be told to call everything, so we might see a lot of penalties tonight.”
Though Bruins coach Claude Julien has publicly announced his displeasure regarding the chippy play, Melrose said he may have a different attitude in the locker room.
“I think he had fun with it,” Melrose said. “I think Claude has to say those things to the press and for the NHL. But he loved the way his team stuck up for each other. He loved Lucic going after Burrows. He loved the fact that they were having some fun. They played hard. They got a win on home ice. The weight of the world was lifted off his shoulders. I think Claude put up a very brave [front] to the press, but I think behind the scenes he was probably patting Lucic and [Mark] Recchi on the back.”
Regarding the suspension of Canucks defenseman Aaron Rome, Melrose said no one is happy.
“The Boston people don’t like it. The Vancouver people don’t like it. So, that tells me it’s probably a pretty good number that they came up with,” he said. “I thought it was going to be two games. I know everybody’s up in the air about the hit. I don’t think it was a dirty hit. I don’t think Rome is a dirty player. I think it was a tough hit, certainly. Four or five years ago it wouldn’t even be a penalty. I know the game is changing, but I can live with the four. I think everybody can. Obviously [Nathan] Horton being gone for four games had something to do with the suspension of Rome.”
Added Melrose: “[Keith] Ballard looks like he’s going in [for Rome], and here’s a guy who’s already played nine games. A veteran defenseman. Vancouver is very lucky. Not many teams could fill in with guys who have already played nine playoff games. So I don’t think that will be a big factor in tonight’s game, the loss of Rome.”
Horton however, will be much more difficult to replace. Asked whom Melrose believes will fill his spot, he replied, “Probably [Michael] Ryder.”
“I think Ryder is a safe choice. He played on that line the rest of the game after Horton got hurt. He is a goal-scorer. He is a veteran. Claude knows what he’s going to get, so it will probably be Ryder. What I would love to see them do is put [Tyler] Seguin with [David] Krejci and Lucic. The kid’s an awesome talent. I know we saw that he got the four points in one period against Tampa Bay. So I would love to see the kid play with Krejci and Lucic. I don’t think that will happen, but that would be an interesting call by Claude Julien.”
Melrose doesn’t expect the referees to allow any more after-the-whistle altercations, and he foresees a lot of early penalties.
“Well we’ve got two of the best referees in the game,” Melrose said. “And what I’m hoping for is they’re going to let the guys hit. They’re going to be watching for slashing. They’re going to be watching for stuff after the whistle. Obviously, if any of the finger-gate stuff happens, there’s going to be a two and a 10 given right away to send a message. But I’m hoping these two guys will realize that Boston needs to be physical. Let them be physical. But, they’re really going to crack down on the extra-curricular stuff.”
Despite Boston’s dominating 8-1 Game 3 victory, Melrose still predicts the Canucks will take the Cup.
“I picked Vancouver in six [before the series],” Melrose said. “I don’t think my opinion has changed. I think this is a must win for Boston. I think if they don’t win this game, it’s going to be Vancouver probably in five. Boston knows that they have to win this game. They can put on a brave front and say ‘We can come back three games down. We’ve done it before.’ But realistically, Boston has to win this game to have a chance of winning this series.”