NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley, in an interview with Mut & Merloni on Friday, talked about the B’s letdown that cost them Game 4 against the Rangers.
Of the Bruins’ many mistakes Thursday night, Brickley said Tuukka Rask ‘s slip-up that allowed New York’s first goal was the biggest.
“The absolute critical moment in the game was the goal that Rask let in, the first goal of the game for the Rangers,” Brickley said. “Think about the situation: This is a knockout game, you have nothing going in terms of any kind of offensive attack — I think they had somewhere between seven, eight or nine shots on goal; maybe two quality scoring chances — down 2-0, the building’s dead, there’s no signs of believability from the New York Rangers . Then [Carl] Hagelin‘s little backhander eludes Tuukka Rask  in a stumble. That was the absolute most critical point in the hockey game because all of a sudden the Rangers started to believe that they had a chance.”
Brickley also took issue with the officiating Thursday.
Said Brickley: “You knew you were in trouble when [Roman] Hamrlik gets the first penalty — that’s black and white, no-brainer, over the glass, delay of game. Then the next penalty comes to [Matt] Bartkowski. He gets locked up with [Ryan] Callahan. Callahan punches him in the head when they’re in separation. Bartkowski gives him a love tap to say, Hey, I’m aware of what just happened, and he’s the only one that gets the minor penalty. I said, Oh, this is going to be a tough night for me to analyze these officials and say that this is going to be OK. And you can even throw the [Jaromir] Jagr penalty in there — how late did that arm go up after the crowd reaction when he was trying to protect the puck in the neutral zone.
“I had my problems with the officiating. Can it be better? Absolutely. But it is what it is, and you’ve got to play through it.”
Another questionable decision came when Rangers forward Derick Brassard threw down his stick and gloves in hopes of fighting Brad Marchand , only to see Marchand skate away.
“I thought Brassard deserved a penalty in that situation,” Brickley said. “Marchand doing his job, getting under his skin. But I’ve seen it both ways. These are judgment calls.”
Dougie Hamilton was beaten on the game-winning goal by Chris Kreider. Brickley said how the 19-year-old defenseman responds will tell us a lot about his future.
“There was some good from Dougie last night and some not so good,” Brickley said. “On that game-winning goal, he’s not out of position. It’s a two-on-two and he’s fronting Kreider. He tries to get his stick right around the top of the circle knowing — and you heard the sound bite, he said, ‘I knew exactly where he was going and what he was going to do.’ But he didn’t get his stick. And when he tried a second time to get it, it was too late and he allowed Kreider to get that inside position. It was a well-executed play, but the microscope is on him because it’s the game-winner.”
Added Brickley: “These are good lessons for a young player. You have to have the heartache and the disappointment in order to reach the levels that you expect to reach as a professional athlete. These are the growing pains that are good to experience. It’s how you bounce back that determines your character.”
Looking to Saturday’s Game 5, Brickley said the Bruins should be able to reassert their dominance.
“Coming into the series, I thought it would be one of those five-, six-, seven-game series, all one-goal games, maybe some overtime in there, two teams very stingy defensively, you’re going to have to earn every inch of the ice,” Brickley said. “And we’ve seen a lot of that in this series. But we haven’t seen a Ranger team that has played their best. And we’ve seen a more consistent Bruins team than we saw in the Toronto series. This series has gone a little differently than I anticipated, or I think than most Bruins fans anticipated.
“To have that 3-0 [series] lead and let that game get away, a 2-0 lead, elimination game, foot on the throat, and to allow the Rangers up off the mat is disturbing. And you can understand the fans’ reaction to it, because they wanted the series to end for a number of reasons. But my expectation for Game 5 is that the Bruins are the superior team in this series and you’ll see it in Game 5.”