NESN’s Andy Brickley talked with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about the Bruins’ top two lines, his thoughts on Tuukka Rask  being passed over for a Vezina nomination, and what he’s seen from the Leafs’ top scoring threats so far.
Brickley said he was surprised and disappointed that Rask wasn’t nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie (Henrik Lundqvist , Antti Niemi and Sergei Bobrovsky are the nominees). He said he thought Lundqvist only edged Rask because the Bruins were a stronger defensive team than the Rangers, making Rask’s achievements look less impressive to some.
“Why don’t you compare defensive systems to defensive systems and not have that be part of it — just have the eyeball test and say, who were the top three goalies in the league this year?” Brickley said. “And I would not put Lundqvist ahead of Rask even if the numbers were that similar. Rask was a better goalie than Lundqvist this year.”
With Game 3 in Toronto under the Bruins’ belts and Game 4 coming up tonight, Brickley said he’s been impressed by the Leafs’ home atmosphere.
“It reminded me a lot of what Montreal can bring in the postseason, but this one had a different feel because they hadn’t had a playoff game in eight or nine years,” he said. “It was almost as if it had a similar atmosphere to the finals in 2011 in Vancouver. That’s how much they wanted something special to happen in Game 3. But the Bruins would not allow it to happen — they played a real smart game, something they didn’t do in Game 2.”
Part of the Bruins’ success has been the performance of David Krejci ‘s line with Milan Lucic  and Nathan Horton . Brickley said it’s no surprise to see Krejci play well in the postseason, but that his linemates’ improved play has helped him stand out as well.
“He was dealing with a couple of guys that were underperforming on his line, basically,” Brickley said. “Now he has Milan Lucic  on top of his game, doing the things that he does best. Nathan Horton  was still trying to find his way, he wasn’t making any plays, he was mishandling the puck, and now he’s doing what he does best, and that’s score goals. David Krejci’s history and resume suggested that he would be a really good player in the postseason and now he has these two weapons with him playing up to their capabilities.”
On the Bergeron line being matched up with Toronto’s top defensemen, creating chances for Krejci’s line: “Matchups are so important in the postseason, and if you think the Bruins are a deeper team than Toronto, I agree. That allows you to play players against certain players, try to keep those matchups that work in your favor and accept the fact that the Bergeron line has not been productive, but they’re still on the positive side of things, even or better. They do play against the top offensive talent, along with the [Zdeno] Chara unit when you have your full complement of defensemen, and that allows the Krejci line to be the more productive line as long as you’re getting some kind of productive play from the third and fourth lines. The fourth line was great as advertised, and finally the third line had an effective game in Game 3.”
On the Bergeron line getting going: “I just think it’s reps. I just think it’s a matter of time, really. Look at [Jonathan] Toews in Chicago, the amount of minutes he plays, very little production as far as goals and assists. Corey Perry  out in Anaheim, Jeff Carter  in LA, that’s your Stanley Cup  champion winner. He’s got one point, so this is not uncommon only three games into the first round. eventually the matchups will favor the Bergeron line if they’re able to advance into other series. As long as they’re on the positive side of things, they’re neutralizing whoever they get to play against, and they continue to play a good forechecking, high-tempo game, eventually the production will be there.”
On what Rask is doing well: “Tracking the puck well. Toronto, one of their mandates is, the minute they step over the blue line they’re putting pucks on goal, and they want to have that net drive down the middle of the ice. I think the Bruins did a pretty good job in Game 3 of boxing out, not allowing two or three bodies to get in front of Rask. But when there was the ability to be aggressive, before there was a chance for a redirect or the inability to control the rebound and put it where he wanted to put it, his reads were real good, but he has that calm demeanor, which is what you want in your goaltender, but be aggressive when the time calls for it. I don’t think the scoring chances were very high in the double figures, despite the high number of shots that he had.”
On splitting up Chara and Dennis Seidenberg  causing problems for the Bruins in Game 2: “That was the decision that they had to make — give Dougie Hamilton a chance and break those two guys up or stick a left-handed shot in there. ‘¦ They went the route of trying to give a young guy some NHL  playoff experience. They thought he had enough to offer the Bruins. It was a factor, but not a huge factor. If you went down the list of reasons they lost Game 2, I would put that somewhere around six, seven, eight. It was their decision-making and inability to manage the puck and not controlling center ice, were the three major topics for why they lost Game 2.”
On whether Phil Kessel  or James van Riemsdyk has been more of an offensive factor for the Leafs: “I’d probably say Kessel only because of his lack of success prior to [this series]. This is a big playoff for him, his chance to say something to the NHL  community, to the Toronto fan base and to his organization, that he’s ready to continue his maturation process. As slow as it has been in terms of getting results against the Bruins, it’s been real good everywhere else. He needed to do something in this series to have some kind of an impact, and he’s had a couple of goals, two or three 2-on-1s, some real good scoring chances that he’s helped create. When he’s had a chance to get away from Chara and Seidenberg he’s been really good.”
On the Penguins-Islanders series: “[The Islanders] have impressed everybody with their ability to attack and score goals. That being said, are we going to see [Tomas] Vokoun the next game? Because [Marc-Andre] Fleury looks awful.
“Watching the body language on the Vancouver bench [in the 2011 Stanley Cup  finals], the games in Boston with [Roberto] Luongo in goal, you saw the same kind of disbelief, and no believability that this guy’s going to give us a chance to win tonight, no matter what they say publicly. You can almost just read their body language and see they didn’t believe, whereas the Bruins had every confidence in Tim Thomas  in net. And I think that’s what’s going on with Pittsburgh right now.”