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Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘Who can handle’ a determined Milan Lucic?

NESN Bruins commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to talk about the Bruins’ historic comeback in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs.

Brickley admitted he started questioning his faith in the Bruins when they fell behind by three goals in the third period before rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory.

“My believability was challenged that they could come back once we got close to that 10-minute mark,” Brickley said. “But I will go back to the beginning of the third period. When we were trying to set the stage, we talked about — I think Jack [Edwards] used the phrase ‘final 20 minutes of someone’s season.’ I wasn’t convinced of that. I thought that game would go to overtime. But when it did get 4-1, yeah, I certainly had my doubts. It was creeping in.

“No surprise, though, when you look back at that third period, that a guy like Milan Lucic [1] would spearhead that charge. It’s in his DNA, it’s in his makeup. When he’s that determined, that committed and refuses to lose that attitude, who can handle him?”

When the Bruins started to exert their will late in the third period, the Maple Leafs showed their inexperience.

“Absolutely unchartered water for these guys, and that certainly worked in the Bruins’ favor,” Brickley said. “The minute you start to put a little pressure on a team that’s trying to protect a three-goal lead, and really, because they haven’t been in that closeout situation in the NHL [2] playoffs —  you can be in those positions during the regular season, with a three-goal lead or a two-goal lead in the third period, it’s a heck of a lot easier than it is in the postseason. Especially when you’re playing a team that supposedly, and in all probability, is a superior team to you.

“The minute [Nathan] Horton scores on that great rush up the ice by Lucic, the power move around the net and the nice pass out front, now that doubt seems to creep in. You start sneaking peeks at the clock, you start to watch the clock a little bit. You have the believability in your goaltender, even though he played really well in Game 5 and Game 6, can he handle the onslaught that you know is coming here in the final surge by Boston. And because they don’t have that experience on their resume, you knew that there was a lot of doubt, or at least some level of doubt for the Leafs.”

Tyler Seguin [3] and Brad Marchand [4] struggled all series, but they came through with immense pressure that set up Patrice Bergeron [5]‘s game-winner in overtime. Brickley said they can use that shift to spark a turnaround heading into the second-round series against the Rangers.

“The hope is that because Marchand and Seguin were instrumental in the overtime winner by Bergeron — that shift was great, their compete level was high, they had good legs,” Brickley said. “When you start playing games going into overtime … there was the theory that young legs would prevail in the overtime. Those are the two guys you looked at — Marchand and Seguin. And what an opportunity to really try to forget about some of the lack of production and some of the poor play through the first six-plus games that they were experiencing. If they could have some kind of impact and leave their fingerprints on this series with an overtime winning goal, and that’s the way it worked out.

“Can that carry over? Absolutely. And you get a whole set of different matchups when you play the New York Rangers [6]. Maybe it’s more to their benefit. Maybe the game plan of the Rangers focuses more on the [David] Krejci line, and now these guys get a little bit more time and space, and you combine that with a little bit more confidence now, given the fact that they were instrumental in the game-winning goal.

“So, yeah, absolutely it can have an impact. And I think that’s the hope of the team, the organization and certainly their fan base.”

To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page [7]. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins [8].