|Chris Nilan on D&C: ‘If anybody has an edge in any way in this series, it’s Boston’||04.30.14 at 10:16 am ET|
Former Canadiens and Bruins forward Chris Nilan joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to discuss the upcoming playoff series between Montreal and Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Canadiens and Bruins met four times during the regular season, with Montreal winning three and Boston winning one. Despite that, the Bruins finished with the best record in the NHL and are considered not only the best team in the Eastern Conference but the favorite to win the Stanley Cup. Nilan sees Boston as having the slight advantage because of its tough, hard-nosed approach.
“If anybody has an edge in any way in this series, it’s Boston, and I think it’s the edge physically and size-wise,” Nilan said. “Montreal, I think they’re a better skating team, but if Boston takes that away from them, and they’ve done it before, then the Canadiens will be less effective. If Montreal can get their skating game going, and they have good support in all the areas of the ice, and they’re willing to pay the price, they’re willing to go the areas that are difficult to go to, then they can have success.”
Nilan, a Boston native who played for the Canadiens for 10 years and the Bruins for two years, has seen the rivalry from both sides.
“When you’re in it and you’re involved in it, you quickly realize how difficult it is to play against — I mean when you’re on either side,” Nilan said. “I was on both sides, I was in Montreal, and being in Montreal playing against the Bruins back in the day was extremely difficult. You’re always in for a tough game. You had to fight, you had to take the hit. You had to do some things that were very uncomfortable.
“It was the same for the Bruins when I was there. The same thing. Both teams come on at each other. Both teams dislike each other. And it doesn’t matter back in ‘53 or what happened in ‘79, but it all builds and it all lends credence to the tradition of such a great rivalry.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘Sometimes you don’t go down, you don’t get the call’||04.23.14 at 11:05 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about the hit on Brad Marchand‘s knee, flopping and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Even though the Bruins dominated on Tuesday, winning 3-0 and going up in the series 2-1, there was a moment during the second period when Marchand went down with what looked like a knee injury after Red Wings defenseman Brendan Smith tripped him, hitting his left leg. The only issue was Marchand grabbed his right leg. Thornton isn’t sure what happened, theorizing that Marchand may have injured himself on the fall.
“When he tried to jump around him, I don’t know if he twisted something or if he just fell awkwardly when he came down,” Thornton said. “I don’t know. I know Marchy has a reputation that will probably follow him forever. After the penalty was called, I don’t think he would have laid there if he wasn’t in a little bit of pain.”
While hockey isn’t known for flopping, it does occur in the game. Thornton isn’t a fan of embellishing in general, but he admits that sometimes it helps to get the referees’ attention and get the correct call.
“You shouldn’t have to fall down every time you get slashed or cross-checked to get a call, but depending on where you are in the situation, it seems that sometimes you don’t go down, you don’t get the call,” Thornton said. “I think a lot of the reason we didn’t get as many power plays as maybe we should have during the year is because we, as a group, probably just played through things instead of rolling around on the ground.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘I just totally don’t expect’ Dennis Seidenberg to return||04.16.14 at 1:11 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Dennis Seidenberg and the upcoming playoff series against the Red Wings. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
When Seidenberg tore his ACL last December, most assumed he was done for the season. But with Seidenberg back on the practice rink, some have speculated that he could be back at some point, including Peter Chiarelli. Brickley said if Seidenberg is going to come back, he has to come back at full strength.
“He’s just such an incredibly strong athlete that if he can look like he’s able to play and actually get up to speed and be a productive player then that would be a tough decision, but a good decision to have to make,” Brickley said. “That being said, I’m still in the camp that I just totally don’t expect it.”
Added Brickley: “I think if he’s back he’s going to play regular minutes. And I don’t think they want him in a 10-15-minute range. … If he’s in the lineup and he’s playing, he needs to be able to handle similar minutes.”
Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was the coach of the Canadian team for the Winter Olympics in Sochi, with Claude Julien his assistant. While the two shared coaching ideas and strategies during that time, Brickley doesn’t see it as an advantage for either coach.
“I don’t think we’re at any point of the season now where there are any secrets, with all the video pre-scouting that you do, with all the actual scouts that represent Detroit that have been following the Bruins over the last month or two,” Brickley said. “Everybody is well aware of how the Bruins play and everybody is well aware of how Detroit defends as well. Usually Claude Julien gets the checkmark when it comes to who’s got the better coaching when you’re comparing two teams, but this one is a pretty even matchup when it comes down to that.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Dennis Seidenberg should not supplant Kevan Miller||04.09.14 at 1:30 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about Dennis Seidenberg, the injuries to Jarome Iginla and Kevan Miller, where Andrej Meszaros fits on the depth chart, the play of Matt Bartkowski and more. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With momentum picking up on Seidenberg playing in the postseason at some point, fans have started to wonder where the defenseman would be on the depth chart. Brickley said he didn’t think that the 32-year-old should be slotted back on the top pairing at the expense of Miller, who’s played well in his absence.
“I just find it so difficult to put a guy that’s not a hundred percent, or depending on what percent he is, in front of say, Kevan Miller, who’s been getting the job done, who’s in top form, who’s game-ready and ready to go and proven that they have trust in this guy,” Brickley said.
Miller and Iginla both missed Tuesday’s matchup with Minnesota, despite making the trip. Brickley is confident both will be ready to go for the playoffs.
“If this was playoff hockey right now, I’m convinced both would be able to play,” Brickley said. “It’s all about maintenance, it’s all about rest, it’s all about precautionary, those are the terms you’re going to hear right now. Because the Bruins put themselves in this position, they have the options to really focus on the middle of April and not so much on the results and having guys play right now.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘I have no problem with tinkering with lines right now’||04.02.14 at 12:32 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ final stretch of games in April before the playoffs begin. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
With the season winding down, Claude Julien may change some of the lineups to see how different players play together and give rest to others.
“I have no problem with tinkering with lines right now,” Brickley said. “If I expect a few guys, like [Patrice] Bergeron or even a David Krejci, get a night off between now and the final game against Jersey, the regular season, then you’re going to be forced to have different combinations. And if you choose to break up some lines in order to see what something look likes, now is the time to do it.”
The Bruins went 15-0-2 in the month of March, playing in multiple back-to-backs on their way to securing a division title. According to Brickley, the third and fourth lines were a big reason they were able to do that.
“That third line along with the fourth line and their ability to play and handle significant minutes during that month when you’re playing 17 games really sets this Bruins team apart from the rank and file,” Brickley said.
Brickley sees two distinct views when it comes to projecting the first opponent of a team during the playoffs.
“Do you want to start out with a team that you know you can pretty much handle, and then you want to gradually increase that emotion and adrenaline to keep you getting in the postseason?” Brickley said. “Or do you want someone really meaningful right off the bat, get that emotion where it needs to be in the postseason? I’m of the school of thought that it doesn’t matter. You’ve got to beat three really good teams to get to the final. You’ve got to beat four unbelievable teams to win a Stanley Cup.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘I always want to be out there’||04.02.14 at 12:27 pm ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton talked with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday about the end of the regular season, the physical nature of the playoffs and more. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins have been on a hot streak lately, going 15-0-2 in the month of March. The run has secured a division title for the Bruins with seven games to go. It has come at a cost, however, as the players are a little sleep-deprived after all the traveling and back-to-backs.
“You get sore, you get tired,” Thornton said. “I think the change in time zones — last week or the week before we were in four different time zones in five days. It just screws up your sleep pattern.”
With Zdeno Chara now 37 years old, there has been speculation that the defenseman will be rested over the next few games.
“He’s one of the hardest-working guys I’ve ever met,” Thornton said. “He wants to win at the end of the day, though, and I think that’s the most important thing. I’m not sure what’s going to happen, whether he’s going to get some games off or some road trips off or what they’re going to do, but I’m sure it’ll be a civil conversation.’
Thornton enjoyed the extra playing time in March due to all the back-to-backs. It was not only helpful for him, but for his line as well.
“I always want to play,” Thornton said. “The month of March, actually, with so many games is pretty good, too. Our line got a fair amount of ice time through the whole thing as well with all the back-to-back stuff. The more I can play, the happier I am. I always want to be out there.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins’ message to Canadiens was, ‘You cannot beat us in a long series, because we will just wear you down’||03.26.14 at 1:17 pm ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ loss to Montreal, the upcoming Chicago game, Dennis Seidenberg and the Seventh Player Award. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The 12-game win streak came to an end on Monday against the Canadiens, but the Bruins were able to get a point as they forced overtime with a goal from Patrice Bergeron in the third period. Brickley wasn’t concerned with the physicality that the Bruins showed and thought they picked the right game to be that way.
“There was some undisciplined play by the Bruins, retaliatory in nature, throughout the course of the hockey game,” Brickley said. “But if there was ever a game on the schedule, that was the time to do it. I think it helps send a little bit of a subtle message, but still try to play the game, play the game to win, which I thought they did. It wasn’t about the streak, it was about continuing to play the right way, coming into their identity.”
Added Brickley: “If you’re going to play Montreal in a seven-game series, I think part of that message was, ‘You can’t beat us. You cannot beat us in a long series, because we will just wear you down.’ ”
While the streak is over, the Bruins own the best record in the Eastern Conference. To Brickley, now is the time for them to start focusing on the postseason.
“You hear it all the time, ‘Just one game at a time,’ and so on,” Brickley said. “But they’re looking big picture given the position that they’ve put themselves in, and that’s a favorable one. … It’s really all about getting prepared for postseason, so results don’t take on as great a meaning as they normally would.”