|Barry Pederson on D&C: Bruins good, but ‘not anywhere near hitting on all cylinders’ yet||01.30.13 at 10:40 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson spoke with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning about the Bruins’ hot start, Dougie Hamilton‘s role, and which players aren’t quite in top form yet.
“I think the exciting thing is, they’ve got  points and they’re not anywhere near hitting on all cylinders,” Pederson said. ”What I saw in November and December of  was, to me, the best I’ve sen a Bruins team play since the [Bobby] Orr and [Phil] Esposito days. When they were just totally dominating after those two months, and then just ran out of gas.
“That’s when the Bruins are hitting on all cylinders to me — when their team defense is good, they’re getting contributions from their special teams. This is a team that’s right up there as the best 5-on-5 team in the National Hockey League. It doesn’t take much to contribute on special teams to put them over the hump. But I think, more importantly, when you see this team playing physically and dominating teams on the forechecking game, that’s when they’re hitting on all cylinders.”
After seeing Tyler Seguin‘s shootout bid interrupted by an “unidentified food object” in Tuesday night’s shootout win over the Devils, Pederson offered some of the stranger things he saw thrown on the ice during his NHL career.
“Thumbtacks, some beer bottles. Of course it was crazy when beer bottles were glass,” he said. “There’s animals and rats and everything else. It was kind of funny there, but as we all know, one of the things you hate when you’re out there playing is something you can’t see on the ice and you step on it, and bang, somebody blows out a knee.”
Following are some more highlights from the conversation. To hear the full interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
On the praise Hamilton has gotten and whether it’s excessive: “No, I don’t think so. You’re talking about a veteran room, led by Shawn Thornton, that has a tendency to take rookies under their wings and keep them on the straight and narrow. They’re going to keep their head down, working hard, and not paying attention to some of the accolades that this kid deserves.
“The thing that’s really surprised me is his poise defensively. I knew he could move the puck, I knew he was a great skater, he’s going to be the future quarterback of this power play for years to come. But to me, his maturity level, with [Dennis] Seidenberg out, he was forced to play against a lot of other teams’ top lines and he’s really handled himself extraordinarily well. He’s great in transition.
“The defense position for a young guy to break in is always very tough, and now this year they’ve tweaked the rules a little more on interference where you dump the puck in and you even step up on anybody to slow somebody down, you get a penalty, which makes it much more difficult. It’s going to be hard to not praise this kid, because man, he looks like the real deal.”
On why Hamilton plays with Seidenberg instead of Andrew Ference or Zdeno Chara: “I think [Claude Julien's] got him with a veteran that complements his game very well. He’s strong and he’s physical. Andrew would have been my other choice. I don’t think I would want to do it right off the bat with Chara, because Chara, of course, has that top line every single night. I think with Seidenberg he’s with the right guy that can help him along. He’s the guy that can be there defensively for him and allows Dougie to jump into the play and create some offense.”
On whether Hamilton or Seguin will be the bigger star in eight years: “I would have to say Dougie Hamilton because A) it’s harder to play that position, finding a mobile defenseman who can create offense in this day and age, it’s so, so important. With teams getting better at 5-on-5 on a yearly basis, I think it’s going to be the key for him.
“Tyler Seguin, to me, is off to a very slow start. I think when he went over to Europe, playing over there, I think the game was a little bit too easy for him. The ice is bigger, not as physical, and now you get back into the grind of the National Hockey League, you’ve got guys hanging on you, draping all over you, holding you, grabbing you, taking the body, and I think he has to adjust a little bit more.
“When I look at the top line with [David] Krejci, what they have done well is is they have come out and they are a checking line that can score. That second line is trying to be a scoring line that can check, and they have to get back to their basis, because even last year, [Patrice] Bergeron‘s line was the most consistent line all year long and they have to get back to that.”
On whether Hamilton can “take care of himself” physically: “We haven’t determined that yet, but I don’t really think you have to worry about it in this hockey club. In the offseason, you saw Montreal and Buffalo tried to get tougher to compete with the Bruins, because the Bruins in the Northeast last year just destroyed, and I think they’re going to play right into the Bruins’ hands because the strength of this hockey club is their toughness in numbers.
“The other fact is their top players are their tough guys. Most teams have to use their third or fourth line to get toughness out there. So Dougie Hamilton is here for all the reasons that we love because he’s a gifted offensive defenseman, and that’s hard to find.”
On why Chris Bourque has been used prominently in the shootout and on the power play: “I think the coach is trying to get him going a little bit. When you have 93 points, I don’t care what league you’re in, if you’re leading the American League, you obviously have tremendous offensive talent. I think the third line’s been struggling a little bit. Not only Bourque — I don’t think you’ve seen Chris Kelly and [Rich] Peverley play to the levels they’re capable of. So I think he’s trying to get him going a little. I think he feels that he’s pressing.
“As a young guy, the most difficult person that you have to try and convince that you belong there is yourself. You can’t be in awe. For Chris to come up here and play in his dad’s shadow and be around the rink so often, he was going to put a lot of pressure on himself, and he’s that kind of kid — that’s what’s made him successful. To your original point, I’m not surprised. I think the coach is trying to get him going because they know they need his offense on that third line.”
On Milan Lucic trying to stay out of the penalty box to contribute more on offense: “That’s probably more involved toward the end of the season, but when this team is successful, it is a checking, grinding, physical team and it has balanced scoring. When the top line gets in trouble, to me, is when they think they’re goal-scorers and not grinders. When Lucic and [Nathan] Horton are getting their physical game going, you can see them in front of the net — they’re getting so much more room than they normally do. They dump the puck in, they get the defensemen to turn around, and the defensemen can hear them coming.
“I thought they got rewarded with that goal in the third period [Tuesday] for the way they played in the first period when they were flying, and I think for the Bruins to be consistent they have got to keep that mentality.”
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