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Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘have to replace Dennis Seidenberg with a guy from outside the organization’

01.08.14 at 1:00 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, following the Bruins’ 5-2 loss to the Ducks on Tuesday night in the first of three games on the West Coast this week. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“I was actually impressed with the way the Bruins played in the first period, when you talk about how good is Anaheim and how good in Boston,” Brickley said. “But their penalty-killing just totally let them down last night. It will be another stern test on Thursday [vs. the Kings], and probably even a tougher one on Saturday [vs. the Sharks].”

The Bruins appear to struggling to adjust since the loss of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on Dec. 27 to a torn MCL and ACL in his right knee.

“The biggest void on this team right now is clearly the loss of Dennis Seidenberg,” Brickley said. “They’re going to try in the short term to continue to win games and put some points on the board in his absence within the organization to make up for his loss. But long term, and if they think they have a chance to win another Stanley Cup or get to a Stanley Cup final, there’s no question they’re going to have to replace Dennis Seidenberg with a guy from outside the organization.”

The Bruins have had a dip defensively and most notably on the penalty kill since Seidenberg went down.

“I think [Seidenberg's absence] has a lot to do with it,” Brickley said. “I don’t know if it’s a one-to-one correlation with that kind of lack of getting the job done when it comes to killing penalties in his absence, but yeah, he’s one of those guys that’s got real good gaps, he’s able to hold that defensive blue line better than most defenseman, he wins way more than his share of one-on-one battles when the puck’s up for grabs, he’s a good decision-maker, when to be aggressive, when not to be, when to hold your position, he’s real good with stick position, he blocks a ton of shots when killing penalties, he gets to the loose puck so there’s no second and third opportunities when the rebound’s are there. So he does all the stuff that you need a quality penalty-killer on the defensive side [to do].

“In his absence, you still have other guys that can do the job, but he’s one of your premier penalty-killers. He’s just an awesome player in this system, with this group, in his role. When you lose a guy like that, you still have guys like [Johnny] Boychuck and [Adam] McQuaid that are pretty good in that area but not as good as a Dennis Seidenberg.”

The Bruins have some young defenseman on the roster who have shown some promise, but Brickley said a deal for a veteran might have to be made in order to have the team prepared for the postseason — and sooner rather than later.

“You want to make deals from a position of strength,” Brickley said. “Maybe that position of strength is earlier than the deadline. It’s a little tricky with the Olympics. ‘€¦ I think that’s the best time to do it, is to make the deal before the Olympics, whether the player that you’re acquiring — or players that you’re acquiring — are Olympians or not, I think it’s the best-case scenario to get that player in before that 2 1/2-week hiatus and then not in that mad scramble in the final whatever it is, six or seven days before the deadline.”

One name that has been speculated as possible target is former Bruin Mark Stuart, who is in the final year of his contract with the Jets.

“Yeah, sure, absolutely. He’s a guy that’s familiar with the Bruins, familiar with the system and the way the Bruins play, the way they compete,” Brickley said. “It’s my understanding he’s a little frustrated in Winnipeg, not having a playoff opportunity. The years go by and you don’t get a chance to compete in the postseason, that’s gets a little frustrating, especially for a guy as competitive as Mark Stuart. But yeah, I think he’s on a number of short lists when you start talking about players who would look good in a Bruins uniform.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

On forward Ryan Spooner: “They like the speed of Ryan Spooner. I think that’s something that they really covet in that bottom-six forward. Can he be a guy that helps you in the postseason, does he win enough of those one-on-one battles, is he strong enough, is he competitive enough to be a go-to guy in terms of every third shift? That remains to be seen. It all depends on how well he plays from here on out. You know what you’re going to get with Chris Kelly. He’s pretty good in the playoffs because of that compete factor and the experience that he has. But they really like Ryan Spooner’s skill set, but most importantly his speed. And I think that’s something that management will wrestle with to determine what gives them the best opportunity in April, May and June.”

On the team’s goaltending situation:Tuukka Rask, what is the optimum amount of games, and how much hockey do you want him to play, knowing that he’s going to the Olympics — my guess is that he will be the starter for Team Finland — and what is he built to handle in terms of workload? We had that concern with Tim Thomas, maybe because of his age and his style of play. Tuukka a little bit more in terms of in control, a little bit more efficient with his effort and how much energy he has to use up to play the position. But his work load has been pretty heavy relative to this season. And I think that’s the greater concern. Not the absence of Dennis Seidenberg and how you might tweak your game. But more about the workload, what can I handle and how much do I want my No. 1 goaltender Rask to play, which means am I confident in my No. 2 to give him a pretty good amount of work knowing that this is an Olympic year.”

On Milan Lucic not making the Canadian Olympic team: “Not surprised at all. He was a long shot to begin with. The way he’s played this year, he certainly made them think about Milan Lucic as a possibility for Team Canada. They could put two teams together for Team Canada and still have some pretty good hockey even between the two of those teams. But I’m not surprised that Milan did not make the team. You look at some of the selections by Team Canada and some of the players that were left out. I think they have 11 guys coming back from 2010 when they won the gold. There’s some pretty talented guys that are not returning for Team Canada that are still great players in the NHL. So, no, not surprised by Lucic’s non-selection. I’m sure he’s disappointed because it’s something that he probably wanted on his resume at the end of his career. But he knows what his first responsibility is, and that’s for the Bruins to win hockey games.”

On Patrice Bergeron‘s role for Team Canada: “I think he’ll be a top-12 forward, he’ll probably play wing and take a lot of faceoffs if necessary. If you’re protecting a one-goal lead I think he’ll get his share of ice time. His versatility and his hockey IQ and his ability to make big plays defensively at big times, that he’ll get his share of ice time. He probably won’t line up as a centerman on a regular shift, given the depth that they have at that position. When you have [Sidney] Crosby and [Ryan] Getzlaf and [Jonathan] Toews and [John] Tavares, I expect Bergeron probably will play right wing.”

Read More: Andy Brickley, Dennis Seidenberg, Milan Lucic, Patric Bergeron Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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