|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘Bruins appear to be very vulnerable right now’||04.24.13 at 12:18 pm ET|
NESN commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ turnover issues, how their defensive pairings might look in the playoffs and how Milan Lucic has responded to being benched on Saturday.
Brickley said he saw a number of recurring issues in the Bruins’ 5-2 loss to the Flyers on Tuesday.
“[I was] surprised by the lack of complete-game effort by Boston,” Brickley. “It’s almost an indifference to their game. Not enough meaningful contact, the turnovers were just way too many. And not just by one player or a handful of players — it’s everybody. When they get good penalty-killing, their power play can’t score. When they get a power-play goal, their penalty kill seems to fall by the wayside.
“When they need a save in a close game, they haven’t gotten it lately. And if you’re looking for that Bruin team that we got so used to liking because they had that cockiness and swagger to them and they had tremendous confidence as a team, it’s just not there, plain and simple. This is a team that no matter where they finish, whether it’s second or fourth in the conference, [potential playoff opponents] will have no reservations because the Bruins appear to be very vulnerable right now.”
Turnovers have plagued the Bruins all over the ice as they’ve continued to struggle recently, and Brickley said he thinks that’s their No. 1 issue at the moment.
“The ones that jump out at you are the ones where the defensemen turn the puck over in their own zone, and a scoring chance or a goal happens,” Brickley said. “But turnovers at the offensive blue line, turnovers deep in the offensive zone, bad passes through center ice — usually when you make mistakes like that, it’s your decision-making.
“Is that a result of mental or physical fatigue? If you told me that in the middle of the third week of March, when they were playing 17 games in that month, I’d say, OK, I get that. But not now. This is where fatigue cannot be part of the equation. You have to compartmentalize, totally focus on the job at hand. And what the Bruins really need is for their leaders to lead and their star players to do more. [Zdeno] Chara can be a better player. [Patrice] Bergeron has been awesome all year long, but I’m going to ask him to do even more. I want [Andrew] Ference to stand up, [Dennis] Seidenberg, those are the guys that really play tons of minutes. Those are the guys that have to lead the way.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘want to do something that’s meaningful in the healing process’||04.17.13 at 2:16 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ state of mind after the bombing at the Boston Marathon Monday and what he expects from their game vs. the Sabres on Wednesday night.
Brickley said he had been on the outskirts of the city after the Bruins’ morning skate and didn’t make it back to the marathon, although he had considered going.
“It was just such a scary feeling,” he said. “Just the emotions and where they range, from disbelief to outrage, and beyond that, compassion for the people who were down there.”
Based on his conversations with the Bruins in the last few days, Brickley said he thinks the players are ready to get back on the ice, and that their veteran leaders will be a stabilizing presence.
“I think they’re eager to play a hockey game,” Brickley said. “They all want to do something that’s meaningful in the healing process. What can you do as an athlete and as a team — I think that’s first and foremost on their minds. … With the connections they’ve made with the hockey community here and in all of New England, they have an opportunity to go out and do something as a team.
“[Zdeno] Chara, [Patrice] Bergeron, [Andrew] Ference, Shawn Thornton, those are the four guys that will take the lead as far as the emotional side of this game tonight, because they do, they totally get it,” he continued. “They have a grasp of what it means to be a Boston Bruin.
“If you talk to Ray Bourque, one of the greatest lessons he learned as an 18-, 19-, 20-year old player when he came to Boston was he learned what it was to be part of this community, from guys like [Wayne] Cashman, the guys that came before him. The [Terry] O’Reillys. That’s that thread of continuity that has existed in this franchise for such a long time and those four players will certainly lead the way and help the players, like a [Tyler] Seguin or a [Brad] Marchand, some of the younger guys, even a guy like [Jaromir] Jagr that’s 41 years old that just got here — he needs to be swallowed up in exactly what the Bruins want to do tonight.
“They have a sense of community, they have a sense of belonging and they have a connection with what it means to not only be a Bruin but to be a part of this sports environment here in Boston. I think this is the perfect group, because of what they are and what they’ve accomplished and what they want to do in the future, that this is an important game to everybody.”
|Patrice Bergeron will travel to Carolina with Bruins||04.12.13 at 12:46 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron will make the trip to Carolina with the Bruins, coach Claude Julien told reporters at Friday’s practice in Boston, where Bergeron skated with his teammates. However, Bergeron is not expected to play against the Hurricanes on Saturday,
Bergeron has been out since April 2 with a concussion, which he sustained after a hit from Colin Greening of the Senators during a 3-2 Bruins win. He resumed workouts this week and skated in Friday’s team practice. He has a history of concussions, and this most recent one was his third since a major one in October 2007 that knocked him out for the remainder of the season.
Bergeron has missed five games, in which the Bruins have gone 3-2, and still ranks second on the team with 31 points.
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘I wouldn’t be afraid about playing [Islanders] in the playoffs’||04.12.13 at 12:36 pm ET|
NBC’s Pierre McGuire talked with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about the state of the Bruins as the regular season winds down, who they might match up well against in the playoffs and why some other teams are picking up their game as the Bruins appear to wear down.
McGuire was there for the Bruins’ 5-4 win over the Devils on Wednesday, and he said that despite their inconsistencies lately, Boston fans shouldn’t be worried about the team.
“They were solid and reliable early on and then they let their guard down a little bit,” McGuire said of Wednesday’s game. “I think mental and physical fatigue is probably kicking in a little bit. But they were good enough to win in that game. The big thing that’s impressing me is their ability to kill penalties, their ability to play with an edge that’s required, especially when it comes to the playoffs. If you play with that edge and you do take penalties and you can kill them off, that’s huge.
“I know a lot of people are probably a little bit fidgety right now because they lost last night on home ice to the Islanders. The Islanders are doing that to a lot of teams right now, and I think three games in four days right now probably broke [the Bruins] down a little bit. I wouldn’t worry too much about them. I think the Bruins are going to be just fine.”
Despite the fact that the Islanders just beat the Bruins, McGuire said he still thinks they’re an ideal first-round playoff matchup for the Bruins.
“The New York Islanders obviously are an upstart team,” he said. “If I was the Bruins, I wouldn’t be afraid about playing them in the playoffs. I just don’t think they have enough overall depth to play against the Boston Bruins. That would be the team, if I could pick a team — that’s the team I’d want to play against.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Defensive-zone turnovers ‘my No. 1 concern for this Bruins team’||04.10.13 at 1:03 pm ET|
Andy Brickley of NESN joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the expected arrival of Carl Soderberg, the issues of the Bruins defense, and whether any of the B’s potential playoff opponents could exploit those weaknesses.
The Bruins reportedly agreed on a contract with Soderberg on Tuesday at last, after acquiring his rights in a 2007 trade. Brickley said he’s never seen Soderberg play in person, but based on video and his stats (60 points in 54 games in the Swedish Elite League this year), Brickley expects him to contribute to the Bruins right away.
“As soon as he grasps the whole concept of playing North American-style hockey, his size and his skill set will be very good for the Bruins,” Brickley said. “They’ve been in search of adding that depth and balance, whether it’s to the top six forwards or to the bottom six forwards, and he seems to be right on that cusp.”
Soderberg played center in Sweden, but team president Cam Neely said Tuesday that he’ll likely start out in Boston as a winger.
“I understand the philosophy, especially in a system that is so demanding on that defensive centerman working with two defensemen down low,” Brickley said. “He does do that over in Europe, but the system is less demanding and there’s a lot more room and there’s more containment. … Because of the size of the ice, it’s more containment than physical one-on-one battles. Those will be the adjustments, and maybe he’ll be better off learning to use his size along the boards, breakouts, and concentrating a little bit more on what he does really well, which is being a little offensive and a little creative offensively.”
On the Bruins’ defensive mistakes: “It’s the turnovers. It’s not so much how they defend in their own zone — it’s when you turn the puck over, and good teams turn defense into offense, and now you’re in trouble. When you’re making those poor decisions and when the execution’s not there and you’re handing the other team the puck, even unforced turnovers, it’s so hard to defend because you’re thinking offense instead of puck possession. If they don’t get it straightened out, it’s going to be a serious problem going into the postseason. That is my No. 1 concern for this Bruins team.
“You have to minimize your turnovers and be that puck-possession type of teams, in high-percentage plays where you don’t have a play. That means lay that puck in an area where it’s not going to come right back at you. That is why their defense, and I don’t mean the group of six — I’m talking about their team defense — has put a lot of pressure on the goalies over the last 10 games or so. Until they clear that area up, you saw Carolina the other night — they were a two-man aggressive forecheck below the goal line and a green light for both defensemen to pinch down the boards, and the Bruins had a really hard time with it. They’ve got to get that area of their game cleaned up. Don’t worry so much about the offense. … It’s really how you come out of your own zone and how you manage the puck. The offense will be just fine.”
|Brad Marchand breaks goal drought with help from Gregory Campbell, Jaromir Jagr||04.08.13 at 11:28 pm ET|
Brad Marchand scored two goals on Monday in a 6-2 Bruins win after scoring two over his previous 17 games. He was so grateful to his new linemates, Gregory Campbell and Jaromir Jagr, for making it happen that when he had chances to score a third, he went out of his way to try and set them up instead.
“I think I wanted to be a little unselfish there,” Marchand said. “One time I tried to give it to Jags when I had a pretty good shooting lane, and then that 2-on-1 where I tried to give it to [Campbell] – but I just wanted to return the favor on both of those goals they gave me.”
Both of Marchand’s goals came on second chances produced by his linemates’ shots. On the first, Campbell drove to the net and attempted a wraparound with Hurricane defenders hanging on him. While he couldn’t get enough on it, Marchand was ready to tap the rebound past Carolina goalie Justin Peters.
Then, with just under three minutes left in the first period, Jagr carried the puck behind the net and tried for a wraparound (all three first-period goals from the B’s involved wraparounds). His attempt slid through the slot and out to Marchand, who was in exactly the right spot to flick it past Dan Ellis, Peters’ replacement.
By the middle of the second period, the Bruins had a comfortable 5-0 lead, so Marchand seemed content to spread the wealth around. He broke free of the Carolina defense and cut down the left wing, but instead of accelerating and taking a shot, he sent a pass back to Campbell, who was entering the zone with a defender on him and couldn’t do much with the puck.
Marchand did the same later with a pass to Jagr, who picked up two assists on the night but didn’t score. Campbell also had two assists, his sixth and seventh of the year.
“I probably should have shot on both of them, but they’re quick, second decisions, and that’s how the game goes,” Marchand said.
The line finished with eight of the Bruins’ 36 shots (four for Marchand, two each for Jagr and Campbell) in their first game together. Bruins coach Claude Julien said he thinks Campbell’s work ethic fit well with the two more offensively-oriented wingers, even though Campbell hasn’t seen much time as a top-six center in Boston.
“He’s a very versatile player that you can move up and down,” Julien said. “His style is not fancy. It’s straightforward. It’s about hard work. It’s about getting pucks to the net and getting your nose dirty in all the areas, and he was a decent centerman for those guys who like to move the puck around. He made room for those guys and he opened up some passing lanes.”
Passing up shots didn’t hurt the Bruins Monday as they got plenty of offense from unlikely sources, including Jordan Caron and Andrew Ference. However, Julien said he hopes Marchand’s line will take the shots they have as they settle into playing together.
“Tonight it was more Jags trying to feed [Marchand], forcing a pass, trying to get him his hat trick,” Julien said. “Eventually those guys will get used to playing with each other and they’re going to encourage each other to take the shot when it’s there. I know I will.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Jaromir Jagr ‘going to be a very effective player’ on B’s power play||04.05.13 at 12:23 pm ET|
NBC’s Pierre McGuire spoke with Mut & Merloni on Friday about Jaromir Jagr‘s role on the Boston power play, Tyler Seguin shifting to center, and what the Bruins need to do against the Canadiens on Saturday.
McGuire reminisced about his days working with a young Jagr in the Penguins organization, saying, “We had to kick him off the ice because he was such a workaholic. That’s how much he wanted to be great.”
The Bruins got their first look at Jagr on the power play on Thursday, and McGuire said he expects Jagr to be as much of a force low in the zone with the man advantage as he’s always been.
“That’s where Jaromir’s so good,” he said. “From the hash marks down to the icing line, just getting him to get the puck — he can spin and control, he can dish it off or he can take it to the net. So, when he has that kind of multiple-weapon attack from that area, it opens up the one-timer for [Zdeno] Chara. It opens up the back door for potentially Tyler Seguin. It opens up getting the puck to other areas on the ice, maybe for Nathan Horton. So again, where he’s posted right now, he’s going to be a very effective player playing down there. He always has been.”
To beat the Canadiens, McGuire said, the Bruins have to shut down P.K. Subban the same way opposing teams targeted Ray Bourque during his time in Boston.
“The biggest thing is you have to identify certain players,” McGuire said. “Whenever Raymond Bourque was on the ice we had a Ray Bourque rule. You had to hit him every time he was on the ice, and as you skated by him, you had to hit him in the hands with your stick. Our guys lived by it for two straight years and it paid huge dividends for us. … It’s the same thing with Subban. Their power play’s effective, yes, because [Andrei] Markov‘s good, but Subban’s got that overwhelming shot and the ability to distribute, and he’s a breakout player, and he’s a trap-breaker. So if you’re giving that guy free minutes, he’s going to eat you up. You’ve got to punish that guy.”
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