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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Pittsburgh ‘has an answer for the Bruins’ fourth line’

05.29.13 at 1:00 pm ET

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview the Bruins-Penguins Eastern Conference finals.

Boston’s fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton came up big for the Bruins against the Rangers, playing key roles in Games 3 and 5. McGuire said Pittsburgh’s depth will negate that advantage.

“There was no answer from the Rangers for Boston’s fourth line. ‘€¦ Pittsburgh, I can tell you, has an answer for the Bruins’ fourth line,” McGuire said. ” Paille, Campbell and Thornton aren’t going to run around and dominate the way they did the Rangers. Because guys like Jussi Jokinen, guys like Joe Vitale, who played at Northeastern University, a kid out of St. Louis, guys like Craig Adams, who played at Harvard. You’re going to see, these guys can make a mess and they can put you through the boards as much as Thornton can, as much as Paille can, they can fight as much as Campbell can. That’s going to be the X factor that really helped the Bruins last series, it won’t be as much of an impact this series.”

Andrew Ference, who missed the entire Rangers series with what the Bruins called a lower-body injury, skated with his teammates at Tuesday’s practice. That’s let to discussion about which young defenseman the B’s might sit if the team wants to make room for the veteran. McGuire suggested the B’s might want to give Ference more time to recover fully.

“He’s walking around with a walking boot on, so clearly there’s a problem with the lower part of his foot or ankle,” McGuire said. “It’s not easy to come back from something like that at this time of the year. So, I don’t think they’re in a rush. And Andrew would probably be the first person to tell you: You know what, when a team’s playing as well as Boston’s playing, especially those players, you probably don’t take them out of the lineup.”

Another topic of discussion around the Bruins is whether the team should move Tyler Seguin back up to the second line in place of Jaromir Jagr.

“We saw what Jaromir could do in confined areas against the Rangers, and there were points in that series where he really wanted to take the puck over but he was overextending his shifts and you could see he was breaking down a little bit,” McGuire said. “Tyler, you could see, and I talked to Tyler a couple of times during the series, he was fighting it in terms of getting pucks in, but he was still making plays. I know he turned the puck over a couple of times. That’s going to happen with offensive players, you’re going to turn the puck over because they’re trying to make stuff happen with the puck. It’s the checkers that you can’t afford having them turn it over. Because they don’t do much with it. They chip it in and chip it out, and they usually don’t score a lot.

“Tyler will probably get augmented minutes. I’ve got to believe the coaching staff is seeing what we’re seeing, and that is that here’s a kid that’s got a chance to be a difference-maker, and his speed is going to be huge.”

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

On if Matt Cooke is a changed man: “After Matt Cooke did that to [Marc] Savard and after he did that to Ryan McDonagh, Matt Cooke was brought into a meeting in Pittsburgh. And in the meeting were [Penguins GM] Ray Shero and [co-owner] Mario Lemieux. And I believe David Morehouse, the president of the team, might have been in there, too. And he was basically told, ‘You’re basically on probation with us right now. We’re not sure we even want you back. If you can’t change your ways, you can not play here ever again.’ They were not happy, I can tell you that. Their management team, their ownership group, was not happy with Matt Cooke at all at that point. Cooke would be the first person to tell you that.

“He went in there, he met with them, he had long meetings with them, obviously, and also with his wife, who’s an important part of his life, obviously. And he’s become a changed man.

“I’ve known Matt Cooke since he played [juniors] for the Belleville Bulls. He was always on the edge. He’s a player every team in the league would want. There isn’t a team in the league that wouldn’t want Matt Cooke. But I will tell you this: He’s a different type of player than what he was. He is not a cheap-shot artist like he was.”

On what happened with the aborted Jarome Iginla trade to Boston: “They won’t want to hear this in Calgary, but too bad. When you make a deal with someone and you look them in the eye and you make that deal, you live by that deal. The Calgary Flames tried to make a deal with the Boston Bruins, but they didn’t follow the letter of the law and the agreement they had with Jarome Iginla. Jarome Iginla had the right of first refusal of where he was going to go. Calgary called him up and said, ‘We’ve traded you to Boston.’ He’s like, ‘No, you can’t just say you’ve traded me. You’ve got to ask me if I’m going to go there.’

“So, that’s what happened on that whole thing. People are going to try to turn Jarome into a scapegoat here. I think the Calgary Flames, and in particular some of their upper-management people, didn’t play by the rules. And that put everybody in a tough situation, including Jarome.”

On Sidney Crosby and where he ranks among the greatest of all-time: “Crosby’s got to be in the top five. When you watch him and his body of work day to day, it is insane some of the stuff that he can do.”

Read More: Andrew Ference, Jarome Iginla, Jaromir Jagr, Matt Cooke
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