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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Penguins ‘were stunned more than quit’

06.04.13 at 12:07 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to break down the Bruins’ 6-1 victory over the Penguins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Penguins have been the harder-hitting team in the first two games, but the Bruins have dominated on the scoreboard. McGuire said the Pens are making the same mistake they did a year ago, altering their style to try to match a more physical opponent.

“They didn’t learn their lesson from last year against Philadelphia. They tried to do the same thing with Philadelphia last year and they got banged out,” McGuire said. “You saw the frustration with [Sidney] Crosby, you saw the frustration with [Evgeni] Malkin, you saw the frustration with [Kris] Letang. You’re seeing a lot of the same stuff right now.

“[Penguins general manager] Ray Shero tried to address it. That’s why he brought in Brenden Morrow, that’s why he brought in Jarome Iginla, that’s why he brought in Jussi Jokinen, that’s why he brought in Douglas Murray — older players that can maybe stabilize situations if there were negative times in a playoff run. It hasn’t worked so far in this round. We’ll see.

“This is my one caveat to everybody: I did the last series between Detroit and Chicago, and there was so much frustration on the Chicago side of things [when the Blackhawks were down 3-1] it was unbelievable. They were melting down before everybody’s eyes. And then they just role-reversed it and eventually won the series. Anything can happen. But the Bruins have really earned to be in this position. They really merit where they are right now.”

While the Penguins have shown a lack of focus and discipline, the Bruins appear to be playing with more intensity.

Said McGuire: “There’s a heart there, there’s a soul there. There’s a Bruin passion. … There’s a lot to be said about the character of the city of Boston, about the players that represent the city of Boston and about the fans that go to the games there and watch the games. There’s a lot to be said. I think emotion matters a lot in our sport, and there’s a lot to be said about ‘Boston Strong.’ ”

The Penguins fell behind 28 seconds into the game when Brad Marchand took a loose puck from Crosby and scored a breakaway goal. The Penguins appeared to lack a cohesive effort after that, and McGuire said it was because of how quickly the Bruins broke through.

“I think they were stunned more than quit. I think they were absolutely stunned,” McGuire said. “They took a huge right cross right to the face and they didn’t know how to respond. When Marchand scored to start that game in the first shot on goal, and then he scored in the last minute [of the opening period] with the quick snap shot, that was quick-strike offense beyond belief. And I think Pittsburgh was stunned after the first period. They had no response. Because in the second period there was nothing there. And in the third period there was absolutely nothing there.

“I really think the opening play of the game, where Crosby has the puck bounce over his stick, Marchand wins a footrace and scores a real nice goal — shocked. More than anything else, rather than say they quit, I think they were absolutely stunned and shocked.”

Looking at the primary things the Penguins need to improve in order to get back in the series, McGuire said: “First of all, stop turning the pucks over in their own zone. Their turnover ratio is far too high. Second of all, start winning faceoffs. They’re getting wiped out on faceoff situations. … So, faceoff play is going to be important. Turnover ratio is going to be really important. And somehow someway, for Pittsburgh, if you’re a Pittsburgh fan, you’ve got to find a way to generate more power-play opportunities. If you’re not moving your feet and you’re not dominating the puck, you’re not drawing a lot of penalties. Pittsburgh’s not doing either of those two things. They need to get back on the power play. Puck management, turnovers, turnover ratio is huge.

“Boston, again, I’ll stress this: They’ve been the better team. They have been really well-coached and they deserve to be where they are right now, up 2-0 in this series.”

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma replaced goalie Tomas Vokoun with Marc-Andre Fleury in the first period of Game 2. Both allowed two goals. Fleury, who was yanked after struggling in Pittsburgh’s opening-round series victory over the Islanders, appears likely to get the start in Game 3.

“I’d be surprised if he went back to Vokoun now,” McGuire said. “I think he’s got to try to go with the guys that helped get to where he is. At the end of the day, Tomas Vokoun hasn’t won a Stanley Cup. He has won a world championship, but he hasn’t won a Stanley Cup. Obviously, Fleury has. Fleury is a very popular teammate. He’s been in the Penguins organization since 2003, when he was the first overall draft pick. He’s been around. And he’s been with a lot of these guys, kind of a heart-and-soul player for this group. So, we’ll see. It will be an interesting decision. But I’d be surprised if they went to Vokoun now.”

Matt Cooke was kicked out of Game 1 for his hit from behind on B’s defenseman Adam McQuaid. McGuire said he agreed with the league that no more punishment was warranted.

“I didn’t like the hit, I didn’t like the play. And I thought it merited that kind of penalty for that game,” McGuire said. “I didn’t think supplemental discipline — in fact, if you listen to Claude Julien, he said the same thing — I don’t think there needed to be a suspension on that hit in particular. But again, it’s a double-edged sword, because you don’t like the hit that he puts on — talking about Cooke — on McQuaid; Pittsburgh didn’t like the hit [Brad] Marchand put on James Neal. … Brad’s a friend of mine. He’s a real good friend of mine. I like the kid a lot. But it was a bad hit.

“So, anyways, no suspension. I do think everybody’s kind of like on double-secret probation. Another one of those, I do think you’ll see a suspension.”

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

Read More: Brad Marchand, Matt Cooke, Pierre McGuire, Sidney Crosby
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