|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.”
|Leafs’ Joffrey Lupul: ‘That hockey game will haunt me until the day I die’||05.14.13 at 1:27 pm ET|
While Boston is celebrating the Bruins’ historic comeback in Monday night’s Game 7 against the Maple Leafs, the feeling in Toronto is, understandably, one of misery.
Leafs forward Joffrey Lupul tweeted his feelings early Tuesday afternoon.
That hockey game will haunt me until the day I die…
‘ Joffrey Lupul (@JLupul) May 14, 2013
The Toronto Sun greeted its readers with a harsh take on the Leafs’ third-period collapse, using the headline “The choke’s on us.”
In one breath, [coach Randy] Carlyle felt about his team the way so many Leafs fans felt about this team. He was proud of them. He saw the progress that was made. He saw how close they were — how they had it, really. And then he watched it taken from them, not stolen, more like mugged by the physical Bruins in the final two minutes of regulation time, with the Bruins’ goalie on the bench.
In another Toronto newspaper, The Globe and Mail, Allan Maki compared the Leafs’ collapse to the Wall Street Crash of 1929, among others:
What happened to the Leafs on Monday night was madness heaped on chaos doused in disbelief. For the Bruins, it was a historical first, the biggest third-period comeback by a team in the third period of a Game 7 in NHL history. For the Leafs, it was like being Bill Buckner as the ball bounced between their legs.
Up by three goals, the Bruins shy of bodies on defence, their hometown fans clearly restless, Toronto had it in the palm of its gloves — the game, the series, who could say how much more? And then Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic scored before Patrice Bergeron netted the tying goal followed by the winner in OT. Just like that 5-4. A miracle comeback, an epic failing.
|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘Who can handle’ a determined Milan Lucic?||05.14.13 at 1:06 pm ET|
NESN Bruins commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to talk about the Bruins’ historic comeback in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs.
Brickley admitted he started questioning his faith in the Bruins when they fell behind by three goals in the third period before rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory.
“My believability was challenged that they could come back once we got close to that 10-minute mark,” Brickley said. “But I will go back to the beginning of the third period. When we were trying to set the stage, we talked about — I think Jack [Edwards] used the phrase ‘final 20 minutes of someone’s season.’ I wasn’t convinced of that. I thought that game would go to overtime. But when it did get 4-1, yeah, I certainly had my doubts. It was creeping in.
“No surprise, though, when you look back at that third period, that a guy like Milan Lucic would spearhead that charge. It’s in his DNA, it’s in his makeup. When he’s that determined, that committed and refuses to lose that attitude, who can handle him?”
When the Bruins started to exert their will late in the third period, the Maple Leafs showed their inexperience.
“Absolutely unchartered water for these guys, and that certainly worked in the Bruins’ favor,” Brickley said. “The minute you start to put a little pressure on a team that’s trying to protect a three-goal lead, and really, because they haven’t been in that closeout situation in the NHL playoffs — you can be in those positions during the regular season, with a three-goal lead or a two-goal lead in the third period, it’s a heck of a lot easier than it is in the postseason. Especially when you’re playing a team that supposedly, and in all probability, is a superior team to you.
“The minute [Nathan] Horton scores on that great rush up the ice by Lucic, the power move around the net and the nice pass out front, now that doubt seems to creep in. You start sneaking peeks at the clock, you start to watch the clock a little bit. You have the believability in your goaltender, even though he played really well in Game 5 and Game 6, can he handle the onslaught that you know is coming here in the final surge by Boston. And because they don’t have that experience on their resume, you knew that there was a lot of doubt, or at least some level of doubt for the Leafs.”
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