NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ approach to the playoffs, some lineup decisions they’ve made, and how they match up with the Maple Leafs .
Brickley said he would have preferred to see the Bruins face the Islanders in the first round, but he thinks Toronto is a better matchup for them than Ottawa would have been.
“Toronto, they’re a little porous on defense,” Brickley said. “I’m still not sold on [James] Reimer being an elite guy. He’s got no experience, really, when it comes to NHL  postseason play. So I think it’s a pretty good matchup. My preference would have been the Islanders, but be careful what you wish for. But it should have all the elements of a playoff series they can win, which is physical play, 5-on-5 hockey. If Toronto wants to initiate, the Bruins will oblige, but I’m looking for the Bruins to initiate.”
“I’m not surprised,” Brickley said of Chara and Seidenberg playing together. “I don’t know if it’s my preference. Toronto, one of their strengths this year is the fact that they have more than one scoring line. You put those guys together and you try to play them against Phil Kessel  and his threesome, and they can still hurt you with [Joffrey] Lupul, [Nazem] Kadri. But that’s something they wanted to do. They were committed to it before the season ended. Now it’s up to the other four defensemen that are in the lineup to get the job done on the matchups.”
Brickley said that while Dougie Hamilton looks likely to sit in favor of Wade Redden in Game 1, Hamilton likely will crack the lineup at some point in the playoffs.
“I absolutely think we’ll see Dougie, whether it’s an adjustment or an injury or trying to get a little bit more on your power play,” Brickley said. “They want to get him some playoff experience, no doubt, but it’ll all be determined on how the Bruins play and how healthy they are on the back end.”
On the pros and cons of Hamilton’s play: “I’ll start with his ability to move. He’s one of the most mobile defensemen they have, even for a big guy. His hockey IQ is pretty strong, his creativity with and without the puck, knowing how to get open, timing, jumping into the play. All of things are very strong. What he needs to work on more is gap control, better strength in front of the net, understanding leverage, body position. He’s playing with men now. This is not junior kids, it’s not World Juniors, this is not even the American Hockey League. You’re playing against the top players in the world and he needs to grasp more of that and that comes with reps. He just needs to play hockey.”
On Rich Peverley  possibly being out in favor of Kaspars Daugavins: “I am a little surprised. I’m sure the coaching staff gave that a lot of thought, which player gives them the best chance to win, which players lines up better with [Chris] Kelly and [Jaromir] Jagr on that third unit. They’re anticipating a physical style of game, and I think they like what Daugavins brings in those areas on their attack, especially their forecheck. I guess you can interpret that there’s a little bit of a message — Claude has sat guys in the 2011 run to try to get their attention, to try to get more out of them, to motivate them. But what it really comes down to is what lineup, given the matchups, given the opponents, gives us the best opportunity to play the style of game we want to play.”
On the importance of Game 1 at home: “You can overcome losses on home ice. Obviously, the Bruins proved that a couple of years ago. But it does set the tempo, and when you’ve struggled with your record, not getting the desired results, even when you’ve played better in certain areas on the ice, it goes a long way toward helping that believability and that confidence and that swagger that you’re looking for.”
On what he’ll be looking for early in the game: “It’s the ability to break the puck out under pressure, make plays, make good decisions and don’t get bothered by little things. Don’t let the fact that you might be down by a goal bother you. Those are the great tests of playoff hockey. It’s all about the will to win, and those are the signs I’ll be looking for tonight that this team has that believability we think they have.”
On the emotion of the game: “You know what you have in front of you. You’re reminded of that sickening feeling of Game 7 on home ice in Washington a year ago, the message that was sent by management by bringing everybody back. I think they have 17 guys on their roster who were part of that Stanley Cup  championship team. They know this is an opportunity they’ve been given and they want to make the most of it.”