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Barry Melrose: ‘Bruins are a better team’

05.16.13 at 5:05 pm ET
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Barry Melrose

Appearing with “Salk & Holley” Thursday afternoon, ESPN analyst Barry Melrose said he believes the Bruins are a “better team” than the Rangers, and believes the upcoming Eastern Conference semifinals will be a series “we can really get excited about.”

“Obviously, the injuries to the Bruins are a big factor,” he said. “If those guys can’t play — the defensemen — that’s going to be something that will be very interesting. It certainly helps the New York Rangers out. I like Chara playing against whoever they feel like is the dominant forward. He’s seems to always do a good job in that area. Obviously, the Bergeron line has to play better than they did in the Toronto series — those guys have to score to take some heat off the Krejci line. I’m hoping it’s a real aggressive, physical, nasty series, like Boston and New York used to have.

“Neither team is a great offensive team — they both stress defense first, so it should be a lot of close checking. A lot of grinding and a lot of board play. That creates a lot of anger, a lot of animosity. Hopefully, it’ll be a series we can really get excited about.”

Here are some more highlights of the Q&A. Head over to the Salk & Holley homepage for more:

Which team is more capable of an offensive explosion?

“I think the Bruins have more offensive depth. Obviously, Nash is a wild card because he’s so great offensively at times, but he certainly hasn’t been during the playoffs. I don’t think the Bruins have a Rick Nash on their team — a real world-class offensive player. The Bruins have two-way guys — the guys who can score and check. The guys who can play the both ends of the rink. I think. weapons-wise, the Bruins have more. Obviously, Marchand, Seguin, the guys like that have to pt the puck in the net this series, something they didn’t do the previous series. But controlling Nash — the Washington Capitals did that. if the Boston Bruins can do that and that will make someone else score who isn’t so offensive-minded as Nash, and that’ll put some pressure on them.”

How would you describe the coaching matchup?

“Very even. They’ve both won Stanley Cups, so they both know what it takes. They both stress defense first. They both … obviously, injury-wise, the Bruins are a little more beat up than the New York Rangers, although Staal is out for the New York Rangers, so that’s a big loss. But they were able to win the previous series without Staal in the lineup. I think it’s a pretty even matchup. I think it’s pretty similar guys who believe in the same thing. I don’t think we’re going to be seeing a new offensive-designed power play brought in by either one of these guys.”

Who is Jaromir Jagr at this stage of his career?

“He’s a smart, veteran player. He’s not a superstar anymore. He doesn’t play the game fast, and whoever plays with him has to realize that. He hangs on to the puck more than players do today. He’s a difference. He’s a guy who still wants to play like he did in the 90s, but just can’t do it anymore. But he’s still very smart. And I liked him better on the Bergeron line. I thought he was more effective on the Bergeron line. The only thing about that is what happens with Seguin. That’s sort of a Catch-22. You get Jagr going, but then you hold Seguin back. That’ll be something to watch as the series goes on.”

He holds on to the puck more?

“He’s used to being able to beat one guy. He’s used to holding on to the puck and beating a guy. When he was young, he would just hold the puck, hold the puck, and then throw it through a guys legs, and bang, just float by them and all of a sudden, he’s got a great shot. Jagr is getting lots of shots. He’s throwing a lot of pucks at the net. They’re just a little far out, maybe. He can’t beat the D or the forward that’s on him like he used to, and that’s just the case of being an older player who isn’t quite as quick as he once was and isn’t quite as explosive as he once was.”

On matchups — how much does that figure into things?

“I think the Rangers should have to react to the Bruins. I think the Bruins are a better team. I don’t think the Rangers have a line as good as the Krejci line. I don’t think the Rangers have a line as good as Bergeron’s line, when they’re going/ What happens when you match a lot of times, you get so worried about matching that you end up keeping your best players off the ice. Claude is lucky because both the Krejci line and the Bergeron line are good defensively, so he can play them against anybody. I’ve always been a big believer in that the other team should worry about me, I shouldn’t have to worry about the other team.”

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