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Doc Emrick on M&M: Tuukka Rask gives Bruins ‘check mark’ over Blackhawks

06.12.13 at 12:34 pm ET
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NBC Sports play-by-play caller Mike “Doc” Emrick joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday morning to break down the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.

Emrick said he expects the series to be almost dead even, and he did not offer a prediction for who would raise the Stanley Cup in the end. However, he drew a comparison between this series and the 1995 finals between the Devils and Red Wings.

‘€œThe edge is very difficult to call,’€ Emrick said. ‘€œI know there have been various surveys done and I think one very extensive one in Canada came out 50 percent to 49.2 percent, and at that point I didn’€™t even ask who had the 50 percent because it becomes ‘€” it is pretty much the way that everyone here is thinking. It is just too tough to call.

‘€œI remember a similar thing that happened when we had a 48-game season in 1995 and we went into the final with a favorite team and a non-favorite one because the New Jersey Devils were not a good scoring team. They had a good goaltender and they played good defense. And the Red Wings were lights out. I mean, they were the biggest offensive juggernaut going and they banged their way through Chicago to get to the final and then New Jersey shut them down in four straight games with a defensive scheme.’€

Emrick continued that comparison between the current series and the 1995 finals while discussing Zdeno Chara‘€™s impact on Tuukka Rask‘€™s play. Emrick compared Chara’€™s dominance to that of hall-of-fame defenseman Scott Stevens.

‘€œI think if you were to ask that question to Marty Brodeur, he would say that Scott Stevens‘€™ years were some of his best, because when you have somebody out there that is a presence that takes care of business as well as Scott did and as well as Zdeno Chara does and covers even more distance than Scott would ever hope to just because of his raw size.’€ Emrick said. ‘€œI think you’€™re making a very good comparison there and I think you’€™re also giving appropriate credit to the defense in front of [Rask].’€

While he praised Chara for his defense, Emrick was sure to give credit to Rask, saying that he gave the Bruins an advantage between the pipes over Corey Crawford.

‘€œIf you want to put a check mark in one particular category that I think solidly goes to Boston, it is goaltending,’€ Emrick said. ‘€œAnd again, we have the leading goals-against average is one guy and the other is second. And the leading save percentage is the other guy and the one guy is second. So you can waffle back and forth. It seems to me the way that Rask has been playing, that is a check mark to the Bruins.

‘€œAs [NBC Sports color commentator] Eddie Olczyk always says, ‘€˜Without goaltending you have got no shot.’€™ And they’€™ve sure got goaltending.’€

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 weei.com/Bruins.

On the matchup between Patrice Bergeron and Jonathan Toews: ‘€œThey go about their job the same way with dedication and with consistency. I think in terms of being the guy to score a big goal despite the fact that [Patrick] Kane was the guy that got the last one, that in their history Toews has been the guy who has either set up the big goal or scored it himself. And you don’€™t have to go back any further than the seventh game of the first round in Boston for Bergeron. In a faceoff contest, they are going to be one and two. Who is going to be one and two in the entire league depends upon the linesmen and how many times they drop the puck because they are both comparable in the percentages right around 60 percent. In terms of the leadership that they have with the team one guy wears the ‘€˜C’€™ which means he has to lead ‘€” the other guy does not but leads anyway. They come out dead even just like this series. I’€™m just thrilled that we are all going to get to see these two guys go against one another.’€

On agitators Andrew Shaw and Brad Marchand: ‘€œThe 28 other cities would like to have them on their team. Not necessarily because of the character ‘€” but that is part of what they bring ‘€” but they both are skilled players — Marchand probably a little more skilled around the net than Shaw. But both of them have the ability to get under the other’€™s skin.

‘€œIf we are talking about this and there are any Bruins fans who are 50 years of age or older, or maybe old Bruins players, they would harken back to the fact that in the game that was played a quarter century ago, the guys who were specialists at badgering other players were not around. What we had at that time were guys that dropped the gloves, and lots of them. So in my mind this is the new adjunct player that you have that has to have scoring ability but also has to be a badger. The guys that were the big heavyweights, the Terry O’€™Reillys of the world, that role no longer occurs. We went from 80 fights in the playoffs in the late ‘€˜80s down to where we are down to about a dozen, and seven of those occurred in one game a long time ago, it seems, involving Montreal and Ottawa.’€

On Joel Quenneville potentially shuffling his lines in preparation for the Bruins: ‘€œAt this point I have no reason to believe that he is not going to change them. And if he is not going to change them, it strikes me that that is the first flinch. My feeling is, why do you adjust at this time of year when [Kane and Toews] have been going so well together and the last goal scored was between the two of them, the one that won Game 5 in overtime. That’s a normal armchair quarterback thing to question, as you have done, and it is a normal armchair quarterback for me to respond just like I did. I wouldn’€™t do it, but then again I haven’€™t won a championship as a coach before and I haven’€™t been coach of the year.’€

Read More: Bruins, Doc Emrick, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara
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