NBC’s Pierre McGuire talked with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about the state of the Bruins as the regular season winds down, who they might match up well against in the playoffs and why some other teams are picking up their game as the Bruins appear to wear down.
McGuire was there for the Bruins’ 5-4 win over the Devils on Wednesday, and he said that despite their inconsistencies lately, Boston fans shouldn’t be worried about the team.
“They were solid and reliable early on and then they let their guard down a little bit,” McGuire said of Wednesday’s game. “I think mental and physical fatigue is probably kicking in a little bit. But they were good enough to win in that game. The big thing that’s impressing me is their ability to kill penalties, their ability to play with an edge that’s required, especially when it comes to the playoffs. If you play with that edge and you do take penalties and you can kill them off, that’s huge.
“I know a lot of people are probably a little bit fidgety right now because they lost last night on home ice to the Islanders. The Islanders are doing that to a lot of teams right now, and I think three games in four days right now probably broke [the Bruins] down a little bit. I wouldn’t worry too much about them. I think the Bruins are going to be just fine.”
Despite the fact that the Islanders just beat the Bruins, McGuire said he still thinks they’re an ideal first-round playoff matchup for the Bruins.
“The New York Islanders  obviously are an upstart team,” he said. “If I was the Bruins, I wouldn’t be afraid about playing them in the playoffs. I just don’t think they have enough overall depth to play against the Boston Bruins . That would be the team, if I could pick a team — that’s the team I’d want to play against.”
McGuire said he’s not sure about the specifics of Carl Soderberg‘s contract that are preventing him from coming to the Bruins, but that it might have something to do with Sweden wanting to keep him around for the World Hockey Championships.
“What I understand is, the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation has put their hands up saying, ‘No, you can’t leave, because the World Hockey Championships are in Helsinki this year,’ so I think they want to keep that player to play at the World Championships for them,” McGuire said. “I know North Americans don’t care about it, but it is a huge thing over in Europe. It’s basically the celebration of the start of summer for some of these people in these countries where it’s dark 22, 23 hours a day during the winter. The World Hockey Championship is a huge celebration for a lot of these countries.”
On the possibility of facing the Rangers in the playoffs: “The Rangers have improved significantly since they made the trade-deadline acquisitions from Columbus. Derick Brassard has really helped the power play. Ryane Clowe has been a real good guy, coming in and being physical for them. John Moore can really skate, he’s a poor man’s version of Ryan McDonagh. And they’ve yet to add Derek Dorsett to the lineup, and he’s a tremendous impact, energy-type player. So I don’t know about the Rangers.”
On some teams getting a second wind: “San Jose’s really good on home ice. They’re not very good on the road. ‘¦ They were on a prolonged homestand, they win the games. Once they get out on the road they’re not winning a lot of games. St. Louis is on a roll because of what happened at the trade deadline. They added Jay Bouwmeester, they added Jordan Leopold, they’ve had three straight shutouts in Detroit, in Nashville and last night in Minnesota. Their defense is totally changed. They are last year’s Los Angeles Kings . Remember, LA was an 8 seed — St. Louis won’t be a home-ice team this year, but St. Louis will be one of the nastiest teams to play in the playoffs. And they’ll probably win in the first round and they’ll probably go to the Western Conference final. They’re that deep. They’re that good, barring injury.
“Vancouver, they’re getting it from all different components and they’ve got Ryan Kesler  back. So there are a lot of different things happening with teams — some of it’s injury returns, some of it’s where they’ve been playing, some of it’s because of the trade deadline.”
On the importance of finishing the season strong: “It’s not so much about the record. It’s more about how you’re playing. Sometimes you’re going to play well and lose games. but it’s how you’re playing. are your special teams good, is your penalty kill good, how’s your faceoff play, what’s your ability to come from behind, is your goaltending solid. All those things need to be factored in.”
On Dougie Hamilton: “He was making some misreads against New Jersey, turning the puck over a little bit. And I think probably more than anything else, just getting a little bit of rest, getting ready for the playoffs. One of the big injuries in Boston that a lot of people aren’t talking about — everyone’s talking about Patrice Bergeron  and they should, obviously one of the most efficient players in the league. But Adam McQuaid was a real loss for them. Adam McQuaid eats up a lot of minutes. He’s a very robust player to play against, he clears the crease well, and he’s feared around the league because he’s so physically tough and he can fight. So you don’t have him — that adds more minutes for [Dennis] Seidenberg, that adds more minutes for [Zdeno] Chara, that adds more minutes for [Andrew] Ference and that adds more minutes for Hamilton. And as a young guy like Hamilton is, sometimes as you go along into the dog days of the season, it’s tough, and I think it’s wise to probably give him a break.”
On the Anton Volchenkov hit on Brad Marchand  and Volchenkov’s suspension: “I was surprised it wasn’t more than four [games]. I said right away that’s a suspension. What I do think, and I wasn’t there for the press conference, but I hear some people saying, why didn’t the Bruins retaliate or go after Volchenkov? Brian Mach, the linesman, did a phenomenal job of preserving the integrity of that game by escorting Volchenkov right off the ice. He put his body between the Bruins and Volchenkov as he skated him off the ice. There was no way anybody was going to be able to get to that player. ‘¦ In due time, I think he’ll have to pay a price for what he did to Brad Marchand .”