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Ward on D&H: ‘Boston’s on the upswing’ 05.18.10 at 12:54 pm ET
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Former Bruin Aaron Ward, who is serving as an analyst for NHL coverage on Versus, joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Ward said the Bruins were in a difficult situation in their series vs. the Flyers. “It’s tough to overcome the loss of your two top scorers in Marco Sturm and David Krejci. And then couple that with Philadelphia getting back Simon Gagne. That’s a tough one to deal with,” said Ward, who finished this season with the Anaheim Ducks.

Ward said Bruins fans can take solace in the fact that the future is bright for this team. “Boston’s on the upswing. They’ve got a great situation now with the draft, they’ve got a great situation where they have a lot of key, young guys that have that experience in the playoffs, regular season, that familiarity with the city. And it means a lot to a team to where you can start forming some sort of consistency and looking toward becoming a dynasty.”

Ward, who said he would return to Boston “in a heartbeat,” defended the leadership of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, saying: “He possess every intangible. … He knows when to say something and when not to.”

Ward was traded by the Bruins last offseason to the Hurricanes. There he became teammates with Scott Walker, who sucker-punched Ward in the face during their playoff series last season. Ward said it didn’t take long to put hard feelings aside. “The first phone call from a player [after the trade was finalized] was Scott Walker,” Ward said. “That was pretty easy to deal with, because we aired it out right there, put it right on the table, and there was no issue. We’re big boys. One of the things I found out right after that punch was that Scott’s wife had cervical cancer, and that was the day he found out. So, you know what, there’s times in the game as a player, as a human, you figure out you’ve got to cut him some slack because you never know what kind of frame of mind you’d be in in that situation.”

Read More: Aaron Ward, Bruins, Zdeno Chara,
Melrose on D&C: B’s ‘playing a great brand of hockey’ 05.07.10 at 9:05 am ET
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ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to talk about the Bruins-Flyers series. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“I think Boston, of the eight teams left, are playing the best playoff hockey,” Melrose said. “They’re giving up nothing. They’re playing a great brand of hockey right now.”

Melrose said the Bruins’ discipline in coach Claude Julien’s system has been great to watch. “I love the way Boston’s playing,” he said. “When they give up a shot, it’s from the side. Tuukka Rask is playing great. No outnumbered chances — no 3-on-2s, 2-on-1s. Boston’s playing the system to a ‘T.’ But again, are they going to be able to score? [David] Krejci’s out, [Marco] Sturm’s out, [Marc] Savard’s probably about 75-80 percent. It’s been amazing how they’ve been able to score with all these guys out of the lineup.”

Melrose said that if the Bruins take command in this game the Flyers will focus on the physical aspect, but don’t expect any brawls. “It won’t get ugly like it did in the ’70s, but it will get chippy,” Melrose said. “Philly’s a chippy team anyways. They always take a lot of penalties. They’ve got some guys on the ice that will go a little stir crazy. But it will be nothing like the old days. There won’t be any fights or anything like that. There will be maybe a couple of pushing and shoving matches, a few scrums. The dark days of hockey are over. It will never be like those days. But it will get chippy if the game gets out of hand.”

If the Bruins can close out the Flyers, Melrose suggested B’s fans should pull for the Canadiens to upset the Penguins in the other Eastern Conference semifinal. “I think if Boston plays Montreal they can beat them,” he said. “I don’t think Boston can beat Pittsburgh.”

Read More: Barry Melrose, Bruins,
Boychuk on D&H: Krejci ‘took a hit for the team’ 05.06.10 at 1:35 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk joined the Dale & Holley show Thursday afternoon to talk about the Bruins’ success in the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, click on the Dale & Holley audio on demand page. Boychuck was asked if he felt capable of providing more offense to help make up for the loss of Marco Sturm and David Krejci to injuries. “I know I can do it for sure,” Boychuk said. “With those two guys out, everybody’s going to have to step up their game. I can’t really jump up in the rush at the wrong time, but when I see an opportunity to jump up in the rush, I’m going to make sure to do it and try to put the puck in the back of the net.”

On the hit from Flyers forward Mike Richards that injured Krejci Wednesday night, Bochuk said: “It actually looked like a clean hit to me. It was unfortunate that Krejci got hurt on it, but he made a play and we scored a pivotal goal in the game last night. He took a hit for the team, and we made sure to capitalize when it happened.”

Boychuk took some heat from Sabres fans for his hit that injured forward Thomas Vanek in the first round, but Boychuck said he doesn’t care if he’s the bad guy in Buffalo. “I don’t even think it was a cheap shot,” he said. “It was just a hockey-instinct play. It wasn’t like I was trying to hurt him. But they had to point the finger at somebody, so they had to point it at me, I guess. I just take it as it is. If they want to point the finger for their loss at me, then go ahead. That’s fine by me. It won’t bother me at all, and I’ll just keep playing the way I am.”

On the contributions of veteran forward Mark Recchi, Boycuk said, “I think we have to check his birth certificate, because he sure doesn’t play like a [42]-year-old. He’s a great team leader, and he plays like he’s 25. Having him in the dressing room — just his presence in the dressing room helps our whole team out just by keep it calm, keeping it cool. He gets goals for us that we need and want.”

On goalie Tuukka Rask, Boychuck said, “He’s kind of like an ice man. Nothing really bothers him. He’s always focused and into the game. You can’t really get him off his game easy.”

Read More: Bruins, Johnny Boychuk,
Recchi on D&C: Flyers woke ‘sleeping giant’ 05.05.10 at 8:42 am ET
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Bruins forward Mark Recchi joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to talk about the B’s playoff run. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Asked about advice the 42-year-old veteran gave to the team’s younger players, Recchi said: “This is a great time of year right now. Enjoy it. Embrace it. Don’t let the pressure grab you. If you do that, you’re going to really have a good time with this and we’re going to be a better team for it.”

The Flyers have been trying to get under the Bruins’ skin in the first two games, but Recchi said all they’ve done is “wake the sleeping giant.” Said Recchi: “When we get involved in these games, we seem to really get the emotion and are able to play a better hockey game.”

Recchi said the key reason for the Bruins’ late-season turnaround was the team sticking together. “We believed in ourselves in the dressing room, and what we were trying to do,” he said. “We knew we weren’t consistent, so we really didn’t give [the fans] a lot of reasons to believe in us. But at the same time, we knew that if we found that consistency and that competitive edge every night, then we would be a team that’s very tough to play against. We found it at the right time. With all the injuries and everything we’ve been through, we really stuck together as a group. Through all the doubters and the naysayers, we hung in there together. We didn’t push apart. We actually grew together as a team more than anything.”

Recchi said he never lost faith in his team. “When you believe in the guys sitting beside you, in the dressing room, that never crosses your mind. My biggest thing was I knew we had it in us, because we could control games and dominate games, but then we just couldn’t find that consistency. And I knew it was there. We did it the year before.”

Recchi was asked which players are the best and funniest trash-talkers. “Shawn Thornton, he’s really protective of his players, his teammates,” Recchi said. “Our coach behind the bench is probably one of them, too. It’s pretty funny.” Asked about Flyers instigator Daniel Carcillo, Recchi said: “He’s actually not funny at all. There’s nothing funny to his repertoire at all.”

Read More: Bruins, Dennis & Callahan, Mark Recchi,
Lucic on D&H: ‘You can’t be intimidated’ 05.04.10 at 2:57 pm ET
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Bruins forward Milan Lucic joined the Dale & Holley show Tuesday afternoon to discuss the B’s 3-2 win over the Flyers on Monday night. Lucic scored the game-winner with 2:57 left in the third period, sending the Bruins to Philadelphia with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinal showdown. Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click on the Dale and Holley audio on demand page.

So you picked that corner, took the shot, and knew exactly where it was going, right?

Exactly, and it’€™s easy to pick them when the puck is bouncing like that, too.

I said the same thing about Savard’€™s goal in Game 1, it was bouncing around and he tucked it in then top corner.

Yeah, it’€™s weird, both game-winning goals so far, the puck was in the air, landed, and we caught it on the first bounce. Those are real hard shots for goalies to read because they don’€™t really know where it’€™s going to go, and for us, as players, those are the ones we just have to get on net, and sometimes they find a way and find a hole.

So was that the plan ‘€” just get it on net and maybe something will happen?

Yeah, to be honest, I didn’€™t really have a play, because [Miroslav Satan] and [David Krecji] were kind of covered by the defensemen there, and both our D-men were kind of covered, so I thought if I could just shoot it and get it past the first man, then I had a chance. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brickley on D&C: Savard has to apologize for nothing 05.04.10 at 2:31 pm ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley, who also was part of the play-by-play team for Monday night’s game broadcast nationally on Versus, joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the B’s victory over the Flyers Monday night. Following is a transcript. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

How does Savard bite a gloved finger, and how is he the only one to go to the box after that little exchange?

Yeah, when you do a game for Versus, you’€™re supposed to be right down the middle, but I was lost for an explanation as to why there were no penalty minutes at all for the Flyers in that scrum. I’€™ll give you the fact that if you want to give Savard a slashing penalty because they really try to protect the goalie, even though it wasn’€™t all that much, it was not an uncommon play ‘€” if you want to give him a slash, fine. But there had to be some kind of penalty for either [Daniel] Carcillo and/or [Kimmo] Timonen in that scrum, but that’€™s not the way the officials saw it, and it’€™s not my job to beat them up, because those are the things you have to play through as players. The officiating has not been strong across the board in the playoffs this year.

Did Carcillo drop the gloves, or was he face-washing him with the gloves on?

He started with the gloves on, but eventually they came off in that skirmish. But you know, biting somebody’€™s hand when you can’€™t throw punches is not an uncommon thing. It has happened certainly several times in my career in the last 30 years, and I don’€™t see what the big deal is.

You say it happened ‘€” meaning you did it to somebody else, right?

OK, I was playing in Pittsburgh, we played Montreal, I hit Ryan Walter with an open-ice hit, where my shoulder caught him right in the side of his head, he was knocked out before he hit the ice, and obviously you knew what was going to happen as soon as that happened ‘€” it was just an all out five-on-five brawl. I’€™m on the bottom of the pile, Mark Hunter jumped on my back, neither one of us could throw punches, and he was trying to eye-gouge me. What was my defense? I had to bite his hand in order to protect myself.

So tell me what Savard did that he needs to apologize for?

He defended himself, in a position where he was outnumbered. He has to apologize for nothing.

I think this is significant ‘€” but you tell me. Of the Bruins’ six playoff wins, two were in OT, three were one-goal games, and the other was a two-goal game with an empty netter at the end. Significant?

The Bruins are comfortable in those types of games. They’€™ve played their share of them throughout the regular season, and I know the playoffs are a different animal altogether, but they’€™re comfortable because they believe in the system that they play. They know they don’€™t have all their weapons at their disposal, some key injuries, as do the Flyers, but they expect to play those kinds of games, where it’€™s just going to be one goal, one way or the other, whether it’€™s special teams, five-on-five. But they really feel that if they play their system, execute it, get contributions from everybody on their roster, they like their chances, because they also feel they have one of the best goalies if not the best goalie in right now in the National Hockey League playoffs. So, when you have that kind of formula, and you get the lead, which is what they’€™ve been able to do the last couple of times at home, they feel like they’€™re going to win most nights.

Are the Flyers now confident that they nearly won two games in Boston, or quite the opposite, being that that they lost two games they could have had?

Their mindset has to be that this could be a 2-0 series for them, it could be 1-1, OK, it’€™s 0-2. What we’€™ve proven is that we’€™ve given ourselves an opportunity to win games, what are the adjustments we have to make in order to make sure we win some one-goal games on home ice? We’€™re going to use the crowd, number one, we’€™re going to try to be very aggressive on our forecheck, which they tried to do more of last night, and were successful at times, although I thought the Bruins almost gave them their two goals, certainly their opportunities to score those two goals in that 3-2 win last night, but they will play with even more of an edge, and try to maintain a certain amount of discipline, and kind of intimidate Boston a little bit. Philadelphia has a rich tradition of being good at home, intimidating at home, use the crowd and up their desperation. I mean, it’€™s that simple. They cannot go down 3-0. They know if they’€™re going to win this series they’€™re have to come back to Boston and win in Boston, but the only opportunity they will have is if they hold serve in Games 3 and 4.

Rumor has it when you tried to interrupt Jack Edwards during his soliloquy about the Edmund Fitzgerald, he bit you ‘€” is that true?

I’€™m going to take the fifth on that.

You know how good you are, Brick. You don’€™t seem like a homer on NESN, or a homer now on Versus.

Well that’€™s not my concern. I guess what I’€™m saying is when I watch a Bruins game or analyze a Bruins game, I try to analyze it from a Bruins point of view or a Bruins fan’€™s point of view, but when you do Versus you really have to try to see both sides. I don’€™t think it’€™s walking the line that’€™s the issue, because I have an educated fan base, they’€™re watching television, they’€™re seeing basically the same stuff I’€™m seeing, even though I have a full view of the ice and I can answer the question why, but they see it so I don’€™t have to make things up, I just try to explain what’€™s going on and what the players are thinking.

When did you see this coming. When was it possible for the Bruins to make this kind of run ‘€“ and do you think it could continue?

To be honest, I had my doubts like any other Bruin fan. I don’€™t think I was as negative, even when they were winless in 10 straight. I thought that if they could just get to the postseason, that if they drew the right matchups they could advance. What convinced me was those final 12 games of the regular season, how they played with guys going down, and still able to use the system and believe in it, and excuse a game-plan. And then, become accountable to one another. I don’€™t think they had that accountability throughout the year, for a variety of reasons. But once they arrived there, they looked at the he postseason as a season of redemption, a chance to prove themselves ‘€“ and the experience that they had last year, that bitter disappointment in Round 2, especially for the young guys that were really just kind of finding their way in the postseason, those were the things that convinced me that they had a real good chance, certainly to beat Buffalo.

Wasn’€™t Carsillo’€™s hit on Begin way closer to crossing the line than [Steve] Begin’€™s hit on Carcillo, which, by the way, Carcillo put a major swan-dive flop on?

Yeah, if you watched a lot of that Sabres series, the guy kind of reminds you of Patrick Kaleta a little bit. You know, plays on the edge, finishes his hits high, even though they start within the rules, and then when he’€™s on the receiving end, the embellishment, and the flopping, I agree with all of that. I thought his hit was a little high, and possibly a penalty on Begin. You know, you have to make a split-second decision at that point if you’€™re Begin. You have to calculate, what am I going to do here to retaliate? Do I wait? Do I bide my time? Do I take a number? Do I react right now? And you have to say ‘€” early in the game, home ice, it’€™s Carcillo, we’€™re up 1-0, I need to respond right now. And I agreed with the response, even though it put his team down a man.

When does Philly get ugly, if they lose Game 3?

No, I think it could happen in Game 3, I think it could happen early. I don’€™t know if ugly is the right word, but certainly a far more aggressive, if they can, game plan against Boston. Again, it’€™s that home ice, it’€™s that raucous crowd, it’€™s that desperation, ‘We’ve got to win this game, let’€™s try to get this lead and win the game in the first period,’ but that could be problematic. If you get outside your discipline, and you take some penalties, and you give up some two-on-ones, three-on-twos because you’€™re taking yourself out of position to be over-aggressive, then it can work against you. So it’€™s a fine line, if you’€™re Peter Laviolette, he’€™s got to really channel his guys in the right direction. But using what they use best, and that is that very physical, aggressive stuff.

A lot of expectations were placed on Lucic when he showed up. Compared to Cam Neely, would you say he’€™s an underachiever?

No, even when he was playing his best at whatever time over the last two, three years, it was totally unfair to make that comparison. Sure, he’€™s a big guy, he’€™s a tough guy, he can be intimidating, can drop the gloves, won the majority of his fights, showed a goal-scoring touch you know, with 17 goals on a team that was one of the best offensive teams in the league, everybody had terrific seasons, and that got the Bruins fans excited about what he could be. But to compare him to Neely is totally unfair. I think he’€™s a different kind of player, a different kind of skater. Would he develop into a consistent 30-goal guy? That would be awesome if he did that, and did everything else that he does do. But his game is really based on that hard forechecking, get to the front of the net, get some ugly goals, like that turnaround ‘€” I wouldn’€™t say it was ugly, but it wasn’€™t a thing of beauty last night, it was just a monster shift where you win a lot of one-on-one battles. Cam really took his game to another level, especially when he got hurt. He learned to use the ice and the players around him, he got smarter, he got to areas in a different way, he didn’€™t have to run over people, he did it in more of a Brett Hull style, where he was in the slot, out of the slot, got back in there, took nice passes and that great, quick release. So, if Milan Lucic gets to anywhere near that comparison, I think he’€™s had a good career.

Tuukaa Rask aside, who has impressed you the most in this playoff series?

Wow. I mean, that list is long for me, because of what I’€™m watching. If I start with the elite guys, like a [Patrice] Bergeron number one, I mean, this guy is just incredible. The ability to control the puck and win pucks, when they’€™re out there for 50-50s, who’€™s going to get it, he wins so many of those battles. He’€™s great in the faceoff circle, he plays in every situation, and he’€™s just a great role model for everybody else to watch. And he plays alongside Mark Recchi ‘€” this guy’€™s 42 years old, and he just keeps logging monster minutes and making all the right plays. And I love his commentary, you know, you’ve got to embrace the playoffs, enjoy this, this is why we play ‘€” and let’€™s play to win when the game’€™s up for grabs, he talked about that going into overtime in Game 1, he talked about it going into the third period last night. Don’€™t overlook Chara ‘€” the Bruins have had the ability to match up against Richards these whole first two games because they have the home ice. Johnny Boychuck, I love this kid, seventh defensemen to start the year, he played more minutes than anybody in Game 1, that’€™s how effective he’€™s been. The list goes on and on, [Dennis] Wideman‘€™s resurgence after taking a lot of heat this year, understandably. [Miroslav] Satan ‘€” where did he come from? They got this guy out of Long Island who was just practicing with some pro guys ‘€” wasn’€™t even part of an NHL camp, or had any kind of opportunity, he’€™s got big points for Boston ‘€” so the list just goes on and on of the contributions you’€™re getting from guys you probably didn’€™t expect.

Could you see this team riding on the duck boats with the Stanley Cup a month from now? Is that possible?

Why not? They’€™ve been impressive, I know that’€™s getting way ahead of ourselves, but look at the seeds in the East. The top three seeds are all out, so I think it’€™s anybody’€™s to be had in the East. And then once you get into the finals, who knows? Who knows what players are available, injuries are a big part of the postseason, what you can withstand, what you can’€™t. And then, of course, it all starts on the goal line. As we mentioned already, Rask is showing that this is a big-time, prime-time goalie.

They might have a scheduling problem, because the Celtics are going to need the duck boats one day themselves.

What a feel-good morning this is, after watching the Boston sports last night.

Brickley on D&C: Biting ‘not an uncommon thing’ 05.04.10 at 9:04 am ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to discuss the B’s victory over the Flyers Monday night. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Addressing the second-period incident in which Marc Savard was defending himself against two Flyers and allegedly clamped his teeth on Dan Carcillo’s finger, Brickley said he was not surprised. “Biting somebody’s hand when you can’t throw punches is not an uncommon thing,” said Brickley, who admitted biting an opponent’s finger when he played. “It has happened certainly several times throughout my career in the last 30 years. I don’t see what the big deal is.” Added Brickley: “[Savard] defended himself in a position where he was outnumbered. He has to apologize for nothing.”

Brickley said he could not understand why no penalties were handed out to either Philadelphia player who confronted Savard after the Bruin received a penalty for slashing Flyers goalie Brian Boucher. “I was lost for an explanation as to why there were no penalty minutes at all for the Flyers in that scrum,” Brickley said, adding: “Those are the things you have to play through as players, because the officiating has not been strong across the board in the playoffs this season.”

Brickley said to expect more physical play as the Flyers pull out all the stops for Game 3 in Philadelphia. “They will play with even more of an edge and try to maintain a certain amount of discipline, but ty to intimidate Boston a little bit,” Brickley said. “Philadelphia has a rich tradition of being good at home, intimidating at home, use the crowd and up their desperation. They cannot go down 3-0.”

Brickley was asked when he realized the Bruins had a chance to do something special in the postseason. “To be honest, I had my doubts like any other Bruin fan,” he said. “I don’t think I was as negative, even when they were winless in 10 straight. I thought that if they could just get to the postseason, if they drew the right matchups, they could advance. What convinced me was the final four games of the regular season, how they played with guys going down, and still able to use the system and believe in it and execute a game plan. And then become accountable to one another. I don’t think they had that accountability throughout the year for a variety of reasons. But once they arrived there, they looked at the postseason as a season of redemption, a chance to prove themselves.”

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