NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley, in an interview with Mut & Merloni on Friday, talked about the Bruins’ win over the Penguins  in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals and previewed Monday night’s Game 2.
Brickley said that the end result of the game was what impressed him most about the Bruins on Saturday night, because they did not start the game very well. Pittsburgh outshot Boston 22-17 through the first two periods.
‘The way they played the first 40 minutes was not Bruins hockey,’ Brickley said. ‘They played real strong, they looked more like the team and their identity in the third period. I liked the way they played in the third, the neutral zone was a lot better, fewer turnovers. Once they had that 1-0 lead and were able to extend that lead they got real comfortable in that third period playing the style that they wanted to play. They are going to need a better start tonight because that could have easily been 3-1, 4-1, 5-1 after the first 40 minutes.’
One thing that surprised Brickley on Saturday night was that Andrew Ference  returned to the lineup in place of Matt Bartkowski. Bartkowski, a Pittsburgh native, played more than 19 minutes in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Rangers before sitting Game 1 against the Penguins.
‘Yeah, [I was] a little surprised to be honest with you,’ Brickley said. ‘I know it was a very difficult decision. The minute you get clearance from team doctors and you’re ready to go, it is a tough decision. Bartkowski being a Pittsburgh kid, he was instrumental in advancing in that five-game series against the Rangers. He gave a different element to the Bruins back line with his speed, his ability to pinch down the wall, make key plays in the offensive zone, the quick ups. He was a good match for the Rangers because the Rangers don’t have a ton of team speed so he had more time and space.
‘But Andrew Ference  is a guy that shouldn’t lose his job to injury. He is a veteran guy, he plays real well in the postseason, he is a leader and he is a good match for the Pittsburgh Penguins  when you talk about their high-end talent. I was a little surprised. I thought they would go with the same lineup that you saw in Game 5 against the Rangers, but it was a good decision because Ference played real well.’
Bartkowski also is sitting in favor of Torey Krug, who has had a lot of success since being called up from Providence on May 14. Krug has three power-play goals in six games, and he could see more time on the power play with Zdeno Chara  playing so many minutes five-on-five and on the penalty kill, according to Brickley.
‘Well Chara played 11 minutes in that first period and he was getting some power-play time and he probably wasn’t as fresh as he needed to be, especially if Pittsburgh was going to allow him to carry the puck and make the first pass,’ Brickley said. ‘They’re not going to challenge him, and it kind of slows everything down. Don’t be surprised to see Krug get first opportunity on power plays if the Bruins are fortunate enough to get some man advantage tonight.’
On the Penguins getting caught up in post-whistle exchanges: ‘I expect that to be totally different tonight. They did not have control of their emotions, and I’m talking about the star players like [Sidney] Crosby, as you mentioned. [Evgeni] Malkin, I’ll put him in there as well. You can even lump [Chris] Kunitz in there with some of that stuff that happened at the end of that second period. They weren’t in control of their emotions. They allowed their frustrations to cloud what they do best, which is that skating offensive attack kind of game. They get caught up in playing after the whistles and not between the whistles.’
On if it would have been a panic move to start Marc-Andre Fleury  in Game 2: ‘I don’t know if I would throw panic in there, but I don’t think that would be the right play. Certainly, you have your goaltender [Tomas] Vokoun whose numbers have been great in relief of Fleury. Fleury hasn’t shown at all in this postseason that he is a guy you can get back to right now. Maybe you will be forced to at some point and things don’t go Pittsburgh’s way and you have to make a change in net you will see Fleury, but no way do you not come back with Vokoun. They didn’t lose the game because of Vokoun’s play in Game 1.’
On what makes the Bruins so dominant at faceoffs: ‘Number one, they work at it. It is something that you need to work on almost daily as centermen. And they have enough centermen, meaning not just their top four guys, they have other guys that can take draws, too, like a [Rich] Peverley, for example. But they work on it all the time and then they take pride in it. It’s something that they feel, We’re going to play our game. Any time we can win a faceoff, no matter where it is — offensive zone, neutral ice, in your own end — the more faceoffs you win, the more puck possession you have and the less opportunity for opponents to create scoring chances against you or have to make you work even harder defensively because that will wear you down as a team. So they take pride in it, and they work at it.’