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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Jaromir Jagr ‘going to be a very effective player’ on B’s power play

04.05.13 at 12:23 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC’s Pierre McGuire spoke with Mut & Merloni on Friday about Jaromir Jagr‘s role on the Boston power play, Tyler Seguin shifting to center, and what the Bruins need to do against the Canadiens on Saturday.

McGuire reminisced about his days working with a young Jagr in the Penguins organization, saying, “We had to kick him off the ice because he was such a workaholic. That’s how much he wanted to be great.”

The Bruins got their first look at Jagr on the power play on Thursday, and McGuire said he expects Jagr to be as much of a force low in the zone with the man advantage as he’s always been.

“That’s where Jaromir’s so good,” he said. “From the hash marks down to the icing line, just getting him to get the puck — he can spin and control, he can dish it off or he can take it to the net. So, when he has that kind of multiple-weapon attack from that area, it opens up the one-timer for [Zdeno] Chara. It opens up the back door for potentially Tyler Seguin. It opens up getting the puck to other areas on the ice, maybe for Nathan Horton. So again, where he’s posted right now, he’s going to be a very effective player playing down there. He always has been.”

To beat the Canadiens, McGuire said, the Bruins have to shut down P.K. Subban the same way opposing teams targeted Ray Bourque during his time in Boston.

“The biggest thing is you have to identify certain players,” McGuire said. “Whenever Raymond Bourque was on the ice we had a Ray Bourque rule. You had to hit him every time he was on the ice, and as you skated by him, you had to hit him in the hands with your stick. Our guys lived by it for two straight years and it paid huge dividends for us. … It’s the same thing with Subban. Their power play’s effective, yes, because [Andrei] Markov‘s good, but Subban’s got that overwhelming shot and the ability to distribute, and he’s a breakout player, and he’s a trap-breaker. So if you’re giving that guy free minutes, he’s going to eat you up. You’ve got to punish that guy.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Bruins coverage, go to weei.com/bruins.

On Seguin playing center: “I think this is actually good for him right now because it’s helping him learn another dimension to his game in terms of down-low coverage and understanding where he has to be, what [PatriceBergeron does in terms of the heavy lifting. Tyler gets a different appreciation for what happens. … I think it’s actually good for him to be skating 200 feet and having to play 200 feet, and it’ll only make him better. It won’t hurt him.”

On whether Claude Julien can still make significant adjustments to the team: “You’re refining right now more than anything else. You’re refining your power play, you’re refining your penalty kill, your neutral-zone coverage. You’re continuing to enhance your faceoff situations, your in-zone coverage. You have the car, you have the engine, you have everything built. Now you just fine-tune it going into the playoffs. I’m sure that’s what Claude’s trying to do with his group now.

“Watching the Bruins play last night, it’s starting to get better, and the fact that you’re going to get Chris Kelly back soon is huge news because he’s really a key player on that team. [GregoryCampbell‘s taken advantage of his opportunities, [DanielPaille‘s taken advantage of his opportunities. Obviously Horton and [MilanLucic are starting to return to form, which is good news. I don’t see a lot of holes right now. Obviously the Bergeron situation is gigantic news. … Missing him is a huge hole.”

On the Bruins giving up a lot of shots recently: “Watching that last night, obviously New Jersey, not one of the offensive powerhouses in the league, and let’s not forget those two crossbars in the second period. But that’s good for Tuukka [Rask], it’s great for [AntonKhudobin. … They have a great partnership going on right now.

“I think part of [giving up so many shots] is obviously not having Bergeron. Not having Kelly is a huge part of it. Moving Seguin back to center is a little bit different for him. So there’s some adjustments that’ll have to go on. Not having Adam McQuaid around that group — I think that hurts a little, too, to be honest.”

On what to expect from Montreal on Saturday: “You know how loud it is in that building. It’s really difficult in terms of communication between the defense and the goalie. I think that’s one of the things I’d probably stress to Tuukka and to the defense in terms of communicating down low, because the Canadiens love to cycle. And I’ve got to think Boston’s a little ticked off. Last time they played Montreal, in Boston, Montreal comes from behind to win the game. I thought the Bruins played a tremendous game that night. They just didn’t have any puck luck, and the Canadiens had a ton of puck luck. So you’ve got to think Boston could be a little bit ornery going into Montreal tomorrow.”

On the Penguins losing their last two games: “It’s a little blip. Remember now, no Paul Martin, no Kristopher Letang, who’s played with multiple partners and still been great. … No Sidney Crosby, obviously. So you’re missing three key components there. Plus you’re bringing in these new guys without practice.

“The other night I did their game in New York. Their transition defense was terrible. Their in-zone defense was brutal. I made the comment during the game, when are they going to have some point coverage, because the Rangers were just devouring them with aggressive defensemen. … But I think it’s a little blip and I think it’s a little bit of mental fatigue, too. You look at Chicago after they had their big streak — they lost their next couple of games after the streak ended.”

On the Caps turning it around: “No. 1 in the league on the power play. Huge part of it. Obviously [NicklasBackstrom‘s in much better shape. They didn’t trade [MikeRibeiro at the deadline. Mike Green is in much better shape. Those are key players. Getting Brooks Laich back is really big. The biggest thing to me is that Adam [Oates] has done a fantastic job not panicking. He never panicked once. The wheels were falling off and things were looking bad and he said, ‘Listen, I’m not panicking, because I know how good this team can be. They just have to get in better shape and start listening to my concepts.’ They are in better shape. They are listening to his concepts.”

Read More: Jaromir Jagr, Tyler Seguin,
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