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Mike Milbury on D&H: Bruins will be very conservative with Marc Savard 01.26.11 at 1:00 pm ET
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NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury gave his thoughts on the Marc Savard situation, after news broke Wednesday morning that Savard went home to Ontario to rest his head.

“With the two hits that he took recently, and now this reaction, I think long term is the way it’s going to be,” Milbury said. “Whether they do it officially or not is I guess another matter to discuss. Either way, they’re going to have to handle this one very delicately. We all know the concussion thing is a huge concern these days and a huge topic of discussion in the NHL. So, I think the Bruins will handle this one very conservatively.”

Milbury said people who want to remove the instigator penalty are barking up the wrong tree. “Does anybody really think that being able to go up and smack somebody in the head with his fist without the guy being ready is a really good thing for concussion prevention?” he said. “I just don’t get it when I hear the argument about the instigator penalty. You want to fight somebody, who cares about the two minutes? Just take the two minutes. But you’ve got to leave the instigator penalty in, and we can stop talking about it, in my opinion.”

When co-host Dale Arnold said he disagreed, Milbury deadpanned: “I know you disagree with me, but if I come up and smack you in the head, you might change your mind. And I’m likely to do it if you continue along this path.”

Milbury was asked his opinion of David Krejci. “He doesn’t look like he’s reacting as quickly as he has in the past,” Milbury said. “And I can’t tell that this is the reason why, but listen, he had a severe concussion last year. It took Patrice Bergeron a full year and then some to come back from that. It takes a lot of guys a full year to come back from an injury. That could be it. His timing seems to be OK, his vision seems to be OK, but he just doesn’t have that sharpness to his game that you like to see. But otherwise, it’s the same Krejci. It’s just the pace isn’t where I think it’s been at in the past.”

Milbury also opined on Michael Ryder: “They signed him to be a goal-scorer. He’s not. He’s going to be a 20-plus goal-scorer. He’s not a physical presence. He and [Blake] Wheeler are in the same boat, as far as I’m concerned. They put some effort into the game, I think there’s more there.”

As for Milan Lucic and his lack of physical play this season, Milbury said: “I firmly believe that if he doesn’t bring that [physical] element to his game, he sells himself short and his team short. He was, as you remember, in his rookie year, changing games not with scoring lots of goals but with momentum-changing hits and an occasional fight. Those are almost as important as scoring goals. And he doesn’t bring that that often anymore. I know he’s being dinged up a little bit. ‘€¦ I’d like to see it a whole lot more often. I’d like to see it from the Bruins in general more often.”

Read More: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Marc Savard, Michael Ryder
Mike Milbury on D&H: Problems loom for B’s if first line cannot improve 01.19.11 at 12:49 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports NHL analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury said this is the best he’s seen Patrice Bergeron play. “[He's] seeing the ice, quick to the puck, totally unafraid, does all the little things right, good on the draws, goes to the front of the net, sees the ice well ‘€” there’s nothing to not like about his game,” Milbury said.

The lack of production from the first line is a concern to Milbury. “[Nathan] Horton, [Marc] Savard and [Milan] Lucic have got to find a way to put points on the board,” he said. “They’ve been winning a whole bunch of games without a lot of support from those three guys. Listen, there’s no getting around, it’s their top line. And if your top line isn’t producing the way you expect it to, you’re going to run into problems sooner or later.

“The flip side of that is, because of the balance that they now have, they’re able to do it while the first line finds their rhythm.”

Of Horton, Milbury said. “He’s yet to get fully engaged in the game on a regular basis. By that I mean hustle to loose pucks, work really hard to get there. I’ve seen him fight and he can really go, so I know he’s not afraid. But the point is ‘€” and this is the common catchword ‘€” there’s got to be more urgency to his game. He’s got to want it more. He’s got to fight for loose pucks a little bit more. He’s got to be a little bit more reckless in his game. Until he gets that, his progress is going to be checked, in my opinion.”

Meanwhile, Milbury likes what he’s seeing from the fourth line. “The Bruins have as good a fourth line as there is in the game right now with [Brad] Marchand, [Gregory] Campbell and Shawn Thornton,” Milbury said. “[Campbell] plays hard every night. He’s a coach’s dream, because you know what you’re going to get shift after shift.”

As for Marchand, Milbury said: “He uses his assets, which are his feet, and a little bit of grit to get where he needs to go. ‘€¦ We talk about Horton and engaging and getting the most out of what you’ve got. Well, this kid is getting all of what he can give and then some.”

Looking at the Eastern Conference, Milbury said, “I still think Pittsburgh is the team to beat, and Philly second.”

As for the Bruins, “It’s still a team that I think has yet to hit its full stride,” Milbury said. “But things have changed now for the Bruins. [Tuukka] Rask is back in the picture, [Tim] Thomas is still playing incredibly well, the defense is starting to act like it can jump into the offense or produce when it comes to getting shots on goal, and you’ve got three lines, at least right now, that are playing I think well enough to win on most nights ‘€” and they are winning on most nights. If they can ever get that first line humming, they’ve got to be be a strong candidate to come out of the Eastern Conference.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Gregory Campbell, Marc Savard, Mike Milbury
Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise’ 01.05.11 at 12:52 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury checked in for his weekly visit with the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury said the calls for Claude Julien to be fired during the Bruins’ recent slump were uncalled for. “I didn’t think it was fair,” Milbury said. “I mean, here’s a guy a year just removed a year from the Coach of the Year award and a team that was second overall in the National Hockey League, and I know the story of the collapse as well as anybody, but one game from the conference championship. Then he comes into this season and because of bumps in the road, all of a sudden it’s all his fault.”

Added Milbury: “I don’t think at any time did Peter Chiarelli have in mind that this was Claude Julien’s fault.”

Describing Julien’s coaching attributes, Milbury said: “I think he’s an honest, diligent coach who’s fair to his players. I think he’s a very even-keeled coach. He’s not a ranter or a screamer. I don’t think there’s as much room for that in today’s game with today’s player as there was in previous years. ‘€¦ I think he’s a good coach.”

Milbury has consistently preached that the Bruins need to give more playing time to Tuukka Rask because he is the obvious goalie of the future in Boston while Tim Thomas is toward the end of his career. In the past week, Rask was pulled after one period of a loss to the Sabres but inserted the following game and delivered in a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs.

“I think they’ve been a little unfair to Tuukka Rask,” Milbury said. “I think they yanked the chance to be the No. 1 goaltender. And again, we’ve kind of gone through this before, but Thomas has been incredible. But Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise in terms of goaltending. I don’t think he deserves to be given second-tier status or backup status. I would have thought they would have gone to two No. 1 goaltenders for a while. And I was happy he got back in net. I’ve been wanting to see more of Tuukka Rask, because I think down the line, they’re going to need him. It was a great sign that he bounced back. It was a great sign that they gave him an opportunity and a great sign that he bounced back.”

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Read More: Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Milbury, Sidney Crosby, Tuukka Rask
Mike Milbury on D&H: Nathan Horton ‘needs a size 12 up the derriere’ 12.29.10 at 1:58 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday with guest hosts Mike Mutnansky and Chris Villani. To hear the interview, including Milbury’s thoughts on the upcoming NHL Winter Classic in Pittsburgh, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury said enforcer Shawn Thornton deserves credit for sparking the Bruins with his fight just seconds into the game against the Thrashers last Thursday. The B’s won that game and now have won three straight. Said Milbury: “I thought Thornton was tremendous in the game where the team needed emotion, and he clearly once again established himself as a guy that won’t relent and won’t fall off the map, even though others around him might be suffering and feeling sorry for themselves. This guy just does it. It was a huge pick-me-up.”

The Bruins won Tuesday night after a controversial call went their way late in the game, with the Lightning getting penalized for Steve Stamkos‘ shoulder-to-shoulder hit that sent Gregory Campbell sprawling into the boards and the B’s scoring the game-winner on the ensuing power play. In a story in Wednesday’s Tampa Tribune, writer Erik Erlendsson brought up the fact that Campbell’s father, Colin, is the NHL’s senior vice president of hockey operations. Milbury agreed that the call was incorrect, but he was not pleased with the insinuation that Campbell’s father’s role had any effect on the referee’s decision.

Said Milbury: “No. 1, that’s really dirty pool cheap shot involving Greg Campbell. No need to go there. ‘€¦ This call had nothing to do with who was involved in the play. A lot of times you say a guy like Stamkos gets the benefit of the doubt. The star player usually gets a little bit more room by and large in the league. So, knock that off the table as consideration and call it really low-down journalism in my impression.”

As for the penalty call, Milbury said it’s another example of a negative trend in the game. “Where are we going with this?” he said. “I’ve called it a number of things; I’ll leave it at wussification. To me, that was a great hit, good body position, [Campbell] lost his balance. The whole climate throughout the league has been, sorry, soccer mom mentality. Little Johnny might get hurt if he gets hit hard enough, and we’re all worried about hits to the head and overly sensitive to stuff that occurs.

“It’s a dangerous sport and guys will get hurt and they can get hurt, but if we’re going to eliminate hits like the Stamkos hit on Campbell ‘€” [Devils analyst] Ken Daneyko was saying last night, ‘This is a courageous game.’ We’re taking the courage out of the game when you take away a hit like that. You’ve got to put guys in a little fear and a little jeopardy. And when those people have to face that, they have to get through it somehow or other. If we eliminate those circumstances, I think we’re doing the game a disservice. Last night I thought was a terrible call.”

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Read More: Blake Wheeler, Gregory Campbell, Marc Savard, Michael Ryder
Mike Milbury on D&H: Bruins ‘need some passion’ 12.22.10 at 1:02 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show to give his opinions about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Asked if the Bruins might consider a change behind the bench, Milbury said it’s too early for Claude Julien‘s job to be in jeopardy. “I don’t think so, no,” he said. “This team has shown remarkable resiliency. When they get down, you think that the wheels are falling of the wagon, they pull it together. And I think they’ll pull it together for Claude again.”

Added Milbury: “They need to loosen the screws a little bit offensively. Go after it, make some mistakes, try some things, do some things differently. Do I think they’re ready to knock on Claude Julien’s door? Absolutely not. I don’t think that’s a consideration right now. Tell me 10 games from now when they’ve won one, and it’s a different story.”

Milbury said there are plenty of other people who need to answer the critics before the coach. “[Marc] Savard hasn’t quite hit the plateau that he wants to be at,” he said. “[Patrice] Bergeron has not had a great year offensively. [Milan] Lucic is not doing what he’s supposed to do in terms of being an explosive chemistry set ‘€” just get in there and create some mayhem. That’s important to that team, and it’s been lacking. I’m on [Blake] Wheeler and [Michael] Ryder all the time for that. These are pretty smart players and gifted players. But the games needs passion. And the Bruins more than anything right now need some passion.”

Milbury said there are individuals showing that passion, but the team’s marquee players need to step it up. “The guy that leads the most for me in terms of effort is Shawn Thornton,” he said. “And he does it on a regular basis. He’s a really important part of this team. [Zdeno] Chara needs to pick it up physically. Just because he’s playing 30 minutes [a game], it doesn’t mean he can’t whack and bang and play with some sort of Kevin Garnett-like attitude once in a while ‘€” more in-your-face. All these guys. Savard, when he’s playing well, he’s a bouncy, in-your-face guy. Bergeron in his own quiet way will get there and be in the way and get in the way.

“I don’t know what’s ailing them, but I’m not going to pin it on young guys/old guys, I’m going to pin it on the team and the coach, that somehow have got to refocus their priorities ‘€” not to forget about defense, but to make sure they know that the way they’re going to score goals is causing turnovers. And doing that means ‘€” dammit, there’s not a better word than hustle.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, Mike Milbury, Shawn Thornton, Zdeno Chara
Mike Milbury on D&H: NHL salary cap ‘un-American’ 12.15.10 at 1:01 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury said it was tough to see Marco Sturm go, as the Bruins completed the trade with the Kings to clear up cap space. Said Milbury: “I wish there were another way to go, because on this team he would have been a great fit on the third line and allowed a bunch of other guys to try a hand at a top-six forward position. And that’s where I think Sturm fits best. He can play up to the second line. He’s a real good third-line player on a terrific team, and the Bruins are working their way toward that.”

Milbury said he’s not a fan of the hard cap. “I don’t like it. I mean, what is it doing? It’s sort of leveling the playing field for everybody. Is that what we’re trying to do? It’s sort of un-American, isn’t it? You’re supposed to be out there, spend as much as you want, do whatever you want, and you reap the consequences or the benefits. After all is said and done, I miss the Evil Empire in New York and I miss the Detroit Red Wings spending all sorts of money.”

Commenting on Flyers forward Jody Shelley‘s hit on Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid in Saturday’s game, Milbury said: “It was a dumb hit. He’s paying the price for it. I think that was one that every player in the league can go, ‘Geez, you’ve got to be smarter than that.’ ” Milbury added that he supports automatic icing so as to avoid such situations.

Linus Omark made his NHL debut with the Oilers on Friday night, and the youngster turned some heads in the shootout when he did a 360-degree spin upon touching the puck, then faked a slap shot and fired the pick past Lightning goalie Dan Ellis for the winner.

The flashy moves did not bother Milbury. “We go to this shootout after an overtime, and it’s a gimmick,” he said. “It’s not hockey, it’s a test of skill. You know what? Let it rip. Let it fly. Do handsprings or backflips or whatever you think of to A) entertain the fans, and B) maybe distract the goaltender. ‘€¦ He can do whatever he wants. He can go naked at center ice, a la ‘Slap Shot.’ I’d like to see that. That would really sell some tickets.”

Read More: Jody Shelley, Linus Omark, Marco Sturm, Mike Milbury
Mike Milbury on D&H: B’s should consider trading Tim Thomas 12.08.10 at 12:56 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Asked about the aborted Marco Sturm trade, Milbury speculated that the Kings must not have been aware of Sturm’s injury situation when they apparently agreed to the deal. “Why would you trade for a guy that’s still six weeks from being ready and pay him for that long a time when he’s making, what, $3 1/2 [million], $4 million, whatever he’s making?” Milbury said. “It didn’t make any sense to me at the time that they were picking him up them, unless the compensation was impacted by Los Angeles’ pickup of the money.

“I just think the ball got dropped on Sturm’s ability to come back and play, and that’s going to hold it up. I still think it’s a possibility, but all bets are off for now, anyway.”

Milbury noted that he has a positive opinion of Sturm. “I think he’s a solid player,” he said. “He’s sort of a ‘tweener, second and third line, for me. On a great team, he’s a wonderful third-line player. But he can certainly play up to the second line. I don’t think he’s a top-three forward on any really good team, but a very useful guy who can play in all sorts of situations. Nice to have his versatility. A little bit prone to injury, but it’s a tough sport.”

Touching on the Bruins’ goalie situation, Milbury continued to push for Tuukka Rask to get more of a chance, while acknowledging how well Tim Thomas has played. “[Thomas has] been spectacular,” Milbury said. “The numbers are what they are. The save percentage, astounding. The goals-against, astounding. The win-loss record, everything’s wonderful. He’s still, what is he, 37 [actually 36]? The future is now for Thomas, and I mean right now.

“I think Tuukka Rask is going to be a wonderful goaltender. I’m worried for the first time that he may be impacted psychologically over this thing, as down to earth as he is. There are a lot of people out there that wonder what they could get if they traded Tim Thomas. Now, wouldn’t that be gutsy? But it’s a thought. But it would be really hard to do right now.

“Tim Thomas is not going to be this good three years from now. That’s just the biological clock speaking. Yeah, he’s the No.1 guy now, you can’t deny it. It’s a wonderful story for Tim Thomas. And I think the Bruins count their blessings that they have a guy of the caliber of Tuukka Rask sitting on the bench. I worry for him that he gets discouraged at some point. That would really be a crime. Because 10 years from now, when he’s in his early 30s and his prime ‘€” he’s not even close to his prime right now, and he had a spectacular season last year.

“It is what it is, and I can understand it. But there’s a part of me that says, particularly in the salary cap world, can you afford to do that? Can you afford to have two primo assets in that position, and should they think about trading one? And the only one that they could possibly trade, for me, is Thomas. I know right now that’s sacrilegious speaking.”

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Read More: Bill Guerin, Mike Milbury, Tim Thomas, Tuuka Rask
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