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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins’ bad start ‘carried over to most of the rest of the game’

05.16.14 at 12:49 pm ET
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NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to break down the Bruins’ 3-1 season-ending loss to the Canadiens in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Bruins found themselves in trouble from the start in Game 7, after noticeably poor execution led to a quick Dale Weise goal to give the Habs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“It started with a bad turnover by Matt Bartkowski, we showed it on television. That puck has to be in deep,” McGuire said. “I know it’€™s a simplification and people are probably saying, ‘What does that have to do with it?’ It had a lot to do with it, because you had all your forwards expecting to shoot it, and they don’€™t get back in time. Montreal makes a really smart move and Brandon Prust wins a footrace and gets it to Danny Briere, who eventually gets it to Weise, because Bartkowski’€™s looking at the puck.”

McGuire told Mut & Merloni on Wednesday that Game 7’s first goal would be significant, and he was proven right by the outcome of the game.

“I told you guys the other day the first goal was going to matter. The Bruins were never able to get it back on the rails,” he said. “Now, give Carey Price some credit, and the Bruins also didn’t have a lot of puck luck, but that was a bad start and it carried over to most of the rest of the game.”

McGuire said he could tell from his spot between the benches that the Bruins seemed deflated by the early goal.

“The coaches were pretty vocal, but not a negative way, a positive way, and Shawn Thornton was extremely vocal,” he said. “Outside of that it was a pretty quiet bench.” 

Among other things, McGuire noted the Canadiens’ speed, depth and character as reasons behind their series win.

“They were the faster team, there’€™s no question about it,” McGuire said. “As well as the Bruins did taking the speed portion out of the Detroit Red Wings in a five-game series, for some reasons there were portions in this series where they could not do it to Montreal. I don’€™t think the Canadiens are a four-line team, but they found a way to create more depth by having Weise play more minutes, by having Prust play some more minutes. I thought they did a good job spotting Briere, and he had a goal and an assist in Game 7.

“So they found a way to do a lot of creative things as a group. I think the biggest thing, though, with Montreal is they’re probably the most underrated character team in the league. They have huge amounts of character, and I think that was found out over seven games.”

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

On the struggles of the B’s first line: “Most of the time when you have a line that is that powerful, usually the center iceman is a big part of the engine that drives the car. And [David Krejci] for whatever reason wouldn’t shoot the puck, had faulty decisions when distributing the puck. For whatever reason he just didn’t seem to be in sync, unlike other times when I’ve seen him play.”

On Milan Lucic‘s alleged threats to Dale Weise in the handshake line after Game 7: “If that reporting is true, he’€™s better than that. The handshake is one of the great traditions in the NHL and some guys participate it and they don’€™t want to, but they do it out of respect for the tradition. They don’t say anything. Trust me, I could tell you. I’m down there. They don’€™t say anything. They just shake hands and move on.”

On the kind of changes he expects from the Bruins this offseason: “I think tweaks. And I think part of it is the back end is going to get better. You saw the bad turnover from Kevan Miller in Game 6, which really got the Bruins behind the eight-ball in that Game 6 loss, you saw the bad play by Bartkowski in Game 7 on the first goal. Those are young players that are making mistakes more out of nerves than anything else, and that will get better.

“I will say this in defense of the Boston Bruins, it’s being way underreported, not having Chris Kelly was huge. Chris Kelly is not only a leader for that team, he brings a lot of speed to the group, he’s a tremendous penalty killer, some of the guys had to play out of position. I think it affected the fourth line, especially when they had to move [Daniel Paille] up to play with [Carl Soderberg] and [Loui Eriksson].

“I think the Bruins just have to do some minor tweaking and not a lot of heavy lifting, and I think their team is in very good shape going forward.”

On whether or not the Bruins can rely so heavily on Zdeno Chara anymore: “I think they’€™re probably going to have to add another veteran defenseman. But I also want to say this: Johnny Boychuck has played extremely well, and he’s not going anywhere any time soon. And the other thing is Dougie Hamilton‘s starting to prove that he can handle major minutes.

“I don’€™t think Zdeno Chara can be a 24-28-minute defenseman anymore. If he’€™s hurt, people have to understand that, but according to the Bruins he’s not hurt. Maybe there’s a broken finger, but that doesn’t affect his skating.

“I haven’t seen him fall as much, I haven’t seen him knocked down as much ever. I was befuddled by that, but I do think they’ll need that one more veteran presence in the back end that can log extra minutes because I don’€™t think Chara can do that anymore.”

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