|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘Those defensemen are playing unbelievable’||05.20.13 at 10:16 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the B’s-Rangers series.
The Bruins took a 2-0 series lead with Sunday’s 5-2 victory, as Henrik Lundqvist and the Rangers continued to play below par.
“I think they had their chances, to tell you the truth,” Thornton said. “I think the second period, it could have went either way. We were fortunate to get out of that with the lead. It could have been a different game if Tuukka [Rask] didn’t stand on his head for us in the second period.”
The big story of this series has been the play of the Bruins’ young defensemen, Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton, who have sparked the Bruins with their fresh legs.
“Those defensemen are playing unbelievable,” Thornton said. “Torey Krug, obviously — not just the goal and the assist, those are great plays — but there were some plays he made that probably went unnoticed during the game that made our lives as forwards a heck of a lot easier. Some of the vision he has and some of the plays he made look easy, but they weren’t really easy plays, especially in the neutral zone.”
“I don’t know what the timeline is for those guys, but I’m sure Claude [Julien] will have some decisions to make once everyone’s healthy,” Thornton said. “Not easy decisions, I’m sure, but good decisions. It’s nice when you have that many options. It’s better than the opposite, when you’re like, ‘Oh, my God, we can’t find anyone to put in the lineup.’ ”
As for the possibility of hard feelings if a veteran sits in favor of a rookie, Thornton insisted it won’t be issue.
“Not in our locker room,” he said. “I’ve been that veteran guy squeezed out of the lineup for the playoffs. It’s all about winning this time of year. There’s no time for any personal feelings or agendas. It’s all about the team. We have a good bunch of guys in that room, and everyone’s aware of it.”
|Barry Pederson on D&C: Rangers’ shot-blocking style causing problems for Henrik Lundqvist||05.20.13 at 9:45 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Bruins’ strong start to their series against the Rangers. Boston holds a 2-0 series lead following Sunday’s 5-2 victory.
The Bruins have been rejuvenated by the play of young defensemen Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton.
“I think right now they’re showing some signs of [being a better team with the rookies], just because of the element that these three young kids have brought, which is mobility, speed, I think right now playing with a lack of fear, a lot of confidence,” Pederson said. “But you can really see it, to me, from their offensive side. What I mean by that, a lot of times throughout the year when the offense has been struggling, everybody always points at the forwards. And vice versa, when the defensive game is struggling, everybody always point to the defense. I’ve always been a firm believer that your defense creates your offense, and your forwards create your defense.
“So, these guys are doing a really good job, to me, by jumping into plays, recognizing when there are outnumbered opportunities to make it a three-on-two, a four-on-three. Hamilton did a good job of that yesterday as well as Bartkowski and Krug. For now they’re doing I think a really good job of creating some offense and ‘¦ they are bringing a little bit of speed and mobility that maybe the Bruins have not had back there in a while.”
With the strong play by the rookies, it’s led to a discussion about what coach Claude Julien will do if and when injured veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden are ready to return. Pederson said he does not anticipate a problem in the locker room.
“The guys recognize what this is all about, is trying to win hockey games,” he said. “It’s one of those problems that you love to have. ‘¦ You can never have enough good, young defensemen, because they’re first of all hard to come by. And it’s a situation where these guys right now are playing this way. We’ll see how things go when you go into a more hostile environment in New York.”
Added Pederson: “I think if I had to look at how I would rank them, the rookies being taken out, starting with the first guy, I would probably take a look at Hamilton, it would probably go Krug, and then last would be Bartkowski to be removed from the lineup when and if they came back.
“If Redden was the first guy back, I’m not so sure if I would make a move quite yet. These guys have, I think, kind of earned an opportunity to continue. If it was Dennis Seidenberg who was healthy, there’s no doubt that he’s coming back immediately. I just don’t get a sense with Ference that he’s even that close, but again we don’t know anything about the injuries, so we’ll have to wait and see.”
|Matt Bartkowski on M&M: ‘It’s a great opportunity’||05.17.13 at 1:59 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski, during an appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday, talked about jumping into the Bruins lineup and contributing to the team’s postseason success.
Bartkowski, 24, was called up from AHL Providence last week following injuries on the Boston blue line and has appeared in three playoff games since.
“It’s a great opportunity,” Bartkowski said. “It’s what you dream of as a player, being able to step in in the playoffs and hopefully perform and then help the team win. It’s what you want to show everybody in the hockey world and the organization that you can do. It’s just a great opportunity for me.”
Bartkowski played almost 27 minutes in Thursday night’s Game 1 win over the Rangers, as he and fellow call-up Torey Krug were forced into a regular role due to injuries to Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden.
“Before the game the coaches talked to us and said we’re going to be playing a lot of minutes,” he said. “I knew I’d be playing with Johnny [Boychuk] against the [Ryan] Callahan line. So I figured I’d be playing quite a bit.”
In Game 7 against the Maple Leafs on Monday night, Bartkowski opened the scoring with a first-period goal. He said that helped him mentally, although he never felt out of place.
“I felt pretty in control. The more I played, the more comfortable I got,” he said. “Being able to score that goal pretty early kind of settled me down. It just gave me an opportunity to play my game.”
Bartkowski grew up outside Pittsburgh as a fan of the Penguins when Jaromir Jagr was in his prime in the 1990s. Now the two are teammates in Boston.
“I remember growing up watching him play,” Bartkowski said. “Then, I don’t know what year it was , but him going away from the Pens and it was like this heartbreak for the city. I just every year remember watching him do something different every game. It was pretty amazing. And now being able to play with him, it’s pretty cool.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Game 1 changed after Johnny Boychuk was injured on hit from behind||05.17.13 at 11:35 am ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire made an appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning to dissect the Bruins’ Game 1 win over the Rangers.
After an uneventful first period, the teams traded goals in the second and third periods before Brad Marchand scored the game-winner when he tipped in a pass from Patrice Bergeron 15:40 into overtime. McGuire said the intensity level starting picking up after a play early in the second period.
“I really felt the whole game and the intensity of the game changed after the [Taylor] Pyatt hit on Johnny Boychuk,” McGuire said. “That amped up the entire energy in the building and amped up the entire energy between the two teams. And it created some good opportunities for some phenomenal athleticism from both teams. ‘¦ In overtime it was clearly the Bruins’ overtime and they dominated it. Obviously, they had the power-play opportunity, they felt comfortable. That’s one of the reasons why home ice matters, because you have such a raucous crowd there. And I think the crowd really helped energize the Boston Bruins, especially during that power-play sequence.”
Added McGuire: “I’m not surprised they had a bit of a slow start. But I really, again, I can’t stress this enough: I thought the whole game and the whole energy of the game changed after Taylor Pyatt hit Johnny Boychuk from behind. That really changed the entire chemistry of the game. That’s good for the series going forward.
“I asked Brad Marchand last night on my interview after the game what kind of series he was expecting. He says, ‘Nasty, physical, mean.’ I would agree.”
Jaromir Jagr didn’t register a point Thursday, but McGuire said he believes his presence will be felt eventually.
“I think he can help the power play. That’s where I think he’s going to be a huge benefit for the Bruins, because of his ability to dominate the puck and make good decisions with it,” McGuire said. “Fatigue was a very real issue for Jaromir last night. That’s why I made the comment that I made [about Jagr needing short shifts].
“I was part of the management team that drafted him, I coached him, I skated with him a ton earlier in his career. I know the body of work that he’s presented, and I know when he’s tired and when he’s not. And you could just see he was breaking down last night after about 25-30 seconds. That’s normal; he’s 40 years old. But I expect that he’s going to help their power play. And I think at some point they’re going to have to look to put Tyler Seguin back on that line in five-on-five situations, especially in the second and third period.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘We didn’t have any passengers’||05.17.13 at 10:03 am ET|
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to talk about Thursday night’s 3-2 overtime victory over the Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
The Bruins appeared to be in control for much of the game, but Thornton said there was no overconfidence heading into OT.
“I was actually thinking that we’ve hit a lot of posts tonight,” Thornton recalled. “I don’t know how many times you’ve seen it where you have that many chances to win and then all of a sudden they come down the other way and pop one. We talked about it, we wanted to come out in overtime and put the pedal down. They’re a good team, so you can’t give them any reason to get going.”
Added Thornton: “I thought it was pretty even until overtime. We stepped it up. I liked that pretty much all the guys were going last night. We didn’t have any passengers. It’s been a while since we’ve had everyone, all lines going. That was positive.”
Brad Marchand, who left the team’s morning skate with an apparent injury, bounced back with a strong game and scored the winner in overtime — something Thornton said he predicted.
“That was his best game last night of the playoffs,” Thornton said. “I told him it was such. I actually called him in between the third and overtime for scoring — I was very psychic, obviously. He played really well. He wants to do better. He’s a competitor, you can tell. His whole life, everyone has told him he’s too short, too whatever. He wants to win. It was good to see him get back to those ways last night, that’s for sure.”
The Bruins were playing without three injured defensemen, but young blueliners Dougie Hamilton, Matt Bartkowski and Torey Krug came through with solid performances.
“They were really good,” Thornton said. “I thought maybe one of them out of the three might have had some jitters — no one in particular. I saw Bart and Dougie in Game 7, and they were both spectacular in Game 7, too. But Kruger’s first game in a while, he scores a huge goal. I think his first shift he had a couple of plays where he skated out of the zone, and I think that settled him down. I think all three of them were unbelievable back there last night. A little — I don’t want to say surprised, because I’ve seen them all play, and I know they’re very capable of playing in those games. But you’re right, when it’s your first playoff game or your second playoff game, you could have those jitters, and they didn’t. They were unbelievable.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: With Bruins’ depth down middle, ‘I do think this is a team that can flip the switch’||05.15.13 at 12:11 pm ET|
NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire was a guest of the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs.
McGuire said “only in youth hockey” has he seen a comeback like the Bruins’ miracle against the Maple Leafs in Monday night’s Game 7.
“I’ve never seen anything like that with 12 minutes or less to go in an NHL game — in a playoff game, a deciding Game 7,” McGuire said. “Never seen that before.”
McGuire said the tide started to turn in the Bruins’ favor when Tuukka Rask stopped Matt Frattin on a breakaway with 3:35 left in the third period and Toronto leading 4-2.
“Boston got urgent. Boston really felt better after Frattin missed the breakaway. You could see there was a huge surge after the save was made by Tuuka on Matt Frattin’s breakaway. And you could see the better players for the Bruins every other shift were starting to take over momentum,” McGuire said.
“So, it was a combination of Frattin misses the breakaway, Boston starts to amp it up, their star players really start to amp it up and they get the feel. Then all of a sudden they put the lunar eclipse in front of James Reimer, that is Zdeno Chara, and [Patrice] Bergeron with a seeing-eye shot makes it all equal. Then they go into overtime and win.”
Looking at the Bruins’ inconsistency, McGuire said some of it can be traced to the post-Marathon fallout.
“The thing that’s impressed me the most about this Bruins team: I think that this team was emotionally hurt, like most of the city of Boston was, after the Marathon tragedy,” McGuire said. “I really mean that. I was there to do their game following the Marathon tragedy, and you could sense the emotion, you could sense how these guys felt terrible for the families, for the victims, for the entire city. It was a huge blow. It took time for these guys to rebound.
“If you remember, the first game after was against the Buffalo Sabres, and they didn’t win the game. You could sense that guys were ready to cry after the game; they felt like they had let the city down. So, I think there’s been a lot of emotion that’s gone into the season for the Bruins. Let’s remember, it was a 48-game schedule, there was a lockout, a lot of players were saying stuff they probably shouldn’t have said or didn’t want to say but it was out of character, but emotion got involved. And I think this has been an emotional roller coaster for this team all year.
“Do I think they can flip the switch? Absolutely. I respectfully disagree with Peter Chiarelli — I do think this is a team that can flip the switch because of their depth down the middle. When you look at it with [David] Krejci, with Bergeron, with [Chris] Kelly, with [Gregory] Campbell. I truly believe, when you have that kind of depth down the middle, you can flip a switch.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘We’re fighting for our lives every night’||05.15.13 at 9:09 am ET|
The Bruins pulled off a miraculous comeback against the Maple Leafs in Game 7 on Monday night, while the Rangers routed the Capitals in their Game 7 the same evening. Thornton said neither team will get an advantage from the way the previous series ended.
“It’s a whole new series,” he said. “It doesn’t matter what happened a few days ago. You clear the slate and off you go. ‘¦ For us, that was a pretty emotional overtime, obviously, and an emotional comeback. We almost have to forget about that and get started on this new one.”
Thornton missed an open net toward the end of the last game when his shot from 10 feet in front went over the goal, apparently after deflecting off the mask of Toronto goalie James Reimer, who had been prone on the ice. Thornton returned to the bench and slammed down his stick.
“I wasn’t happy,” Thornton said. “I put it where I wanted to. I didn’t know he was going to be able to get his head up that high. I was going for the top of the net. I still didn’t see what it hit. People are telling me I hit him in the mask. I was ready to put my hands up; I thought it was in. Then I didn’t see the red light go on. I wasn’t very happy, that’s for sure.
“Almost, almost. That’s kind of my life story scoring goals. A lot of almosts.”
The Bruins have been plagued by inconsistency, something that continued from the latter part of the regular season into the playoffs.
“I don’t have an answer. We should be ready to go every night,” Thornton said. “It just seems like we have a little bit of success, then we deviate from the plan a little bit, shoot ourselves in the foot, and then we have to crawl our way back out of it again. We have been crawling out of it, but you can only do that for so long. I’m sure that will be addressed. We’ve got to get back to just playing the way we want to play.
“That being said, though, other teams are trying, too. It’s not we can go out there and dominate 20 minutes. They’re fighting for their lives the whole time. Toronto’s a lot better team than a lot of people gave them credit for. Yes, we haven’t played to the best of our ability at all times every night, but you’re not going to dominate a game in the playoffs for 60 minutes. It just doesn’t happen.”
Touching on the prospects of this being a physical series, Thornton indicated he’s ready for whatever comes his way.
“They say that for every playoff series before it starts,” Thornton said. “It should be physical. It’s the playoffs. They said that about the Leafs. They said that when we played Montreal a couple of years ago, and they didn’t have too many guys that were over 5-9.
“It’s the playoffs, it’s going to be physical. Do we like that? Yeah, we should. We should be physical, they should be physical. We’re fighting for our lives every night. That’s what makes the NHL playoffs so great.”