NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance.
The Bruins defeated the Devils, 4-3, Tuesday night for their sixth straight win. It was a game that Boston had to work for all three periods to win, as opposed to the blowout victories the B’s had earlier in the winning streak.
“I think in this six-game winning streak this is the first game that when the Bruins pushed, there was a push back,” Brickley said. “Boston had to earn just about every inch of ice that they got. The good news was that Boston got better the deeper they got in that game. They had a strong third period and their will to win in the third period was clearly evident. A team that is feeling ultra-confident right now.”
The Bruins started the season 3-7, but they have drastically turned it around, winning all six games they’ve played in November. The team is averaging just under six goals per game this month. Brickley said that many people will point to the increased goal-scoring and improvement on the power play as the main factors in Boston’s winning streak, but he thinks the biggest change has come in the B’s’ own zone.
“They went back to being and reemphasizing a Bruins team that takes away the middle of the defensive zone and tries to keep everything to the perimeter to allow their goaltenders to get good looks at pucks and not allow second-chance opportunities,” Brickley said. “When they play that way, their counterattack game now really becomes more prominent.”
Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page .
On Brad Marchand’s play against the Devils: “He took two offensive zone penalties, whether he agreed with the goaltender interference penalty, and then away from the puck really a meaningless roughing penalty that really served no purpose, and I know that’s part of his game. But listen, the second one’s a really bad penalty. You’re interested in winning the hockey game as well as playing to your strengths. Yeah, that was definitely a teaching moment, and I loved the fact that Claude sat him down. He got an opportunity probably to address his teammates in the locker room before the third period, saying, ‘My bad, that’s on me, I’m going to get it back.’ And to get it back the way he did on that set play right off the faceoff in the third period was a thing of beauty.”
On if the Bruins are the most physical team in the NHL : “They certainly are not afraid to engage. They have the reputation now in the league because they won last year and they played with a physical presence last year. If you engage the Bruins, if you challenge their manhood, if you want to out-physical them on the ice, that is a losing recipe for you when you try to play against the Boston Bruins . Sometimes teams come in and they try to just beat you with skill, they try to let the Bruins’ more physical guys sleep through the game and not get involved emotionally or physically, and that becomes a tactic when you play Boston. If you engage them and you kick the bear, usually it doesn’t go your way. But that is the reputation they have right now and they’ve earned it.”
On the Milan Lucic  hit on Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller : “You check the rules and you say, ‘What does the language allow you to do?’ And they say, ‘It’s not just open season on goaltenders in front of that crease area.’ But it also doesn’t say that you can’t hit them. You’re going to have gray areas, and it’s all about how do you legislate intent? I think really is what’s at the core of what was going on with the Lucic hit on Ryan Miller.”
My problem with that hit, assuming that’s what you want to get at here, is where was the response from Buffalo? A) the players on the Sabres must have thought, ‘Well that wasn’t such a bad hit.’ Otherwise, they would have responded. Or B) maybe there’s a serious disconnect between the players and their goaltender, their star goaltender. They had a plenty of time, that was a first-period hit. Miller finished the first period and he played the second period. My take was the players on the Sabres didn’t think that was such a bad hit, and apparently neither did the league.”