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Tony Amonte on M&M: For offensively challenged Bruins, ‘It’s in their heads’

05.13.13 at 1:23 pm ET
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Tony Amonte

Tony Amonte, who provides Bruins analysis for CSNNE, checked in with Mut & Merloni on Monday to talk about the B’s first-round series against the Maple Leafs.

Following their 2-1 loss in Game 6 Sunday night in Toronto, the inconsistent B’s face a Game 7 Monday night at TD Garden. Amonte said the Bruins’ failure to rise to the occasion the last two games is a very bad sign.

“You can’t survive that way. You can’t win a Stanley Cup. And that’s the way it’s been the last couple of months for this team,” Amonte said. “You just don’t know what you’re going to get on a nighty basis. If you’re going to play that way, especially in the playoffs, you’re not going to go very far.

“Could it be that they’re going to be out tonight? Yeah. If their B club shows up, the minor league team shows up, they’re in trouble, they’re going to lose this game tonight.”

The Bruins had an impressive overtime win in Game 4 to take a 3-1 series lead, but they haven’t been able to close it out after starting slow in the last two games.

“I was surprised,” Amonte said. “Coming off of Game 4, that was probably one of the best games of the playoffs as far as this year out of both teams. The Bruins showed a high-powered offense in that game, pretty strong defensively, Tuukka [Rask] was on his game. So, it seemed like, yeah, they put a dagger in the hearts of the Toronto Maple Leafs. But then to come out in Game 5 in the first period, and Toronto dominated. They turned the switch off and they didn’t play the way they needed to. By the time they got into the game, it was too late again, just like it was last night.

“It’s all about getting out there early, establishing some confidence. For these guys, now it’s in their heads. They’ve got to go out and score goals.”

Looking back at the closing minutes of Friday’s Game 5, Tyler Seguin was getting ice time over David Krejci on the power play despite failing to record a point in the series.

“You’ve got a guy out there basically quarterbacking the power play in Tyler Seguin who has no points and no assists,” Amonte said. “You’ve got a guy that’s got 10 points at that point in time, 10 points in the playoffs, leading the playoffs in scoring, sitting on the bench. From a fan’s perspective, it’s crazy. You have to play the odds. And the odds say Krejci’s going to score a point way before Seguin is ever going to do it.”

Amonte said Claude Julien‘s stubbornness about his lines is both a strength and, as it has been lately, a weakness.

“We’ve all seen how Claude coaches, and he doesn’t like to make a lot of changes,” Amonte said. “His first power-play unit that night was [Jaromir] Jagr with [Milan] Lucic and Seguin. Seguin was kind of playing a point role and an offensive role on that unit, and Krejci’s just not on that unit. There’s not a lot of changes that go on during the game. … This is what’s made Claude Julien successful in the past, and it’s hurt him in the past, is sticking with the guys, sticking with your two lines, not making a lot of changes. Did it work in 2011 when they won the Stanley Cup? Yeah, absolutely it worked for them. Does it work for a lot of other teams? No. I just don’t see it.

“I talked about it last night. You see [Sidney] Crosby, [Pascal] Dupuis and [Chris] Kunitz get broken up [on the Penguins], and you see see [Jarome] Iginla come up with Crosby. They change it up for Game 6 against the Islanders, they win the game. It’s just about sparking the offense. And I think that’s what the Bruins have been missing in the last couple of games. They just don’t have that spark offensively.”

Added Amonte: “I think it’s human instinct to say it’s not going well right now, we’re not generating any offense, we’re not getting any goals, we’ve got to change something up. Do I think the Bruins could have changed it up last night and still lost that game? Sure. But then today they could have gone back to their usual lines and then go from there on out. With this whole plane situation, too, this makes today a lot more difficult for the Boston Bruins.”

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

On Phil Kessel being a better fit in Toronto: “I think it has a lot to do with systems and coaching and the way the Boston Bruins play. Phil Kessel’s got the green light on the Toronto Maple Leafs. He plays how he wants to play. He cheats when he needs to cheat. He plays with a pretty good center in [Tyler] Bozak — who didn’t play last night — so he can get away with cheating, being on the offensive side, not battling in the corners. If you have a coach that can accept that and understands that this guy is that kind of player, and he’s going to cheat and he’s not going to battle hard for you, but when he gets pucks he’s going to put them in the back of the net and he’s going to create offense for you, you’re OK.

“In Boston’s system, you just don’t see a guy like that. You play the right way in Boston, you play defensively, you’re asked to do your job defensively, you’re asked to play in the corners. And if you don’t do it, you get shipped out, just like Phil Kessel did.”

On if Julien’s job could be in jeopardy if the Bruins lose Game 7: “I don’t think so. He’s still a good coach. He’s gotten a lot out of these guys in years past. But I’ll bet a lot of it does hinge on his job and how this team moves forward and trying to motivate the players. You see it at every level in every sport. When the players stop listening to the coach and stop getting motivated, then it’s time for a change.”

On Brad Marchand’s struggles: “He’s a guy I really never worry about, because he’s got the work ethic. He knows how to be successful in games. I’m really of the thinking that something’s wrong with him injury-wise. He just hasn’t been himself. He hasn’t been the pest. He hasn’t been able to get in guys’ faces. You haven’t seen him make the big hits that we usually do on the forecheck. I’m really concerned that something might be wrong with him physically, he’s not playing at 100 percent, and that’s why his game has fallen off a little bit.”

On if Jaromir Jagr should switch lines with Tyler Seguin: “I would. Tyler Seguin’s given you nothing — no points. So you have to put a guy in there you think can produce. Has [Jagr] produced on the scoreboard in the last couple of games? No. But he has produced a lot of offensive chances. He’s getting scoring chances. You know when a goal-scorer gets chances like that, the goals are coming eventually. I think if you get him out there with a guy that can feed him the puck in the right position, create a little space for him. Now he’s got the time to get the puck in the net and score some goals.”

On how the Bruins should attack Leafs goalie James Reimer: “They didn’t get many second shots last night. Yeah, you’re getting some shots from the outside. You’ve got to find those rebounds and you’ve got to get in there and get the second shots. And when you get a second shot, Reimer’s down on his knees, you have to go up and over him. We talked about it coming into the series, high is where you shoot on James Reimer. Right by his ears on either side. He can’t get to those pucks. He loves to go down, he covers the bottom of the net well. So, get that puck up.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, David Krejci, Jaromir Jagr
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