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Andy Brickley on D&C: Revenge on Milan Lucic could start early

11.23.11 at 9:49 am ET

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance to discuss the surging Bruins, who are on a nine-game winning streak.

Boston faces the Sabres on Wednesday night in a game between two Northeast Division rivals. But the game is also notable because of what occurred the last two teams faced off. In the Bruins’ win over Buffalo on Nov. 12, winger Milan Lucic collided with Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who had left his crease to retrieve a loose puck. Some perceived it as a dirty hit by Lucic, but Buffalo did not react to it during the game. In Wednesday’s game, however, the Sabres are expected to seek out Lucic and exact revenge, and Brickley said that it could happen right away.

“I’m hoping that we get a look at it right from the opening puck drop,” Brickley said, adding: “It’s either going to be a bloodbath right from the start or it’s going to be a Wednesday night November game between two teams battling for first place or something in between. You never know what you’re going to get. But the anticipation is that the Buffalo Sabres are going to let the Bruins know that they’re going to man up and stand up from themselves and for one another.”

After the Sabres missed their first chance to respond, they received widespread criticism. Although both teams reportedly have been spoken to by NHL discipline boss Brendan Shanahan, Brickley said the Sabres can’t afford to let another opportunity pass.

“You never really get that same exact genuine opportunity that they had to respond when Lucic collided with Miller — or hit him or checked him or ran him, however you want to describe it. That opportunity has come and gone. And you never get that same opportunity back,” Brickley said. “But because these guys are division rivals and they’re both very good teams, they expect to see each other in the postseason, they have to respond. And if it means you sacrifice the two points tonight to send a certain message even though it’s really not part of their DNA, it’s not really how their team is made up, they do have to stand up for themselves tonight.”

Asked who he thought would be the one to fight Lucic, Brickley mentioned Sabres center Paul Gaustad. After the game on Nov. 12, Gaustad said that he was embarrassed by his team’s failure to respond to Lucic’s hit immediately.

“I expect Gaustad, he was kind of under the microscope, he had a lot of things to say following the game about how embarrassed they were,” Brickley said. “Pretty good-sized guy. He’s not on a short list on the toughest guys in the NHL, but he’s tough.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On if he was ever in Lucic’s situation: “Personally, I was really never in that situation. I knew that early in my career, because I was considered a minority, I was an American and a college kid, you had to stand up for yourself and let them know this is what you wanted to do for a living. You did anticipate having to fight early, and the best thing to do is to fight a real tough guy, win or lose, to send a message that you’re in this for the long haul. But to be in this type of specific situation, like Matt Cooke was in coming into Boston, I don’t know what that exact feeling is but it can’t be comfortable. That’s why I think its  going to start early, that would be my anticipation, because I think its the best approach.”

On if the Buffalo media and fans will think the Bruins are protecting Tim Thomas if he doesn’t start on Wednesday: “The Buffalo fans and the Buffalo media can perceive whatever they want. I don’t think that’s going to impact the way the Bruins make their decision on who’s in net tonight. I have no idea who will play goal tonight. My expectation is that it will be Tuukka Rask. If they were filming their decisions on who was going to play goal based on perceptions of this game, Buffalo-Boston, and they wanted Thomas to be in there, that goes against everything Boston thinks.”

On Boston’s win over Montreal on Monday night: “They got a great performance from their goalie, No. 1. They needed it. They didn’t protect the puck or manage the puck very well at times in that hockey game. But I think you’ve seen three out of the nine where they haven’t played their best and still won. Winning is contagious. Their ability to find ways to win games from different players making big plays, and the players will always talk about confidence. It’s not a phrase I like to hear a lot from professional athletes, I think they should be confident in general. But they do, they talk about confidence and their ability to make plays under pressure at the right times when they’re confident and that’s what they’re feeling right now.”

On how coach Claude Julien tries to keep the winning streak going: “Game days become almost identical. You don’t want to mess with the streak, but as far as your preparation on days in between, the Bruins focus a lot on rest. They try to see the guys that log the most minutes, make sure they’re looking out for themselves and that they’re not overtaxed in practice. There are subtle messages sent in games. If you watched the Montreal game, they went to a three-line rotation in the third period. [Benoit] Pouliot with a couple of bad penalties that sat. That doesn’t mean he won’t be in the lineup tonight, but it was a coaching moment, as they say. And you try to have a feel for those guys that are going, who are winning faces, the need to get them on the ice more often. It becomes a feel for good coaches. And if you trust your players, like Claude tries to trust his players and play four lines the majority of the games, then you know the players will have your back.”

Read More: Milan Lucic, Ryan Miller, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask
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