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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Pittsburgh ‘has an answer for the Bruins’ fourth line’ 05.29.13 at 1:00 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview the Bruins-Penguins Eastern Conference finals.

Boston’s fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton came up big for the Bruins against the Rangers, playing key roles in Games 3 and 5. McGuire said Pittsburgh’s depth will negate that advantage.

“There was no answer from the Rangers for Boston’s fourth line. … Pittsburgh, I can tell you, has an answer for the Bruins’ fourth line,” McGuire said. ” Paille, Campbell and Thornton aren’t going to run around and dominate the way they did the Rangers. Because guys like Jussi Jokinen, guys like Joe Vitale, who played at Northeastern University, a kid out of St. Louis, guys like Craig Adams, who played at Harvard. You’re going to see, these guys can make a mess and they can put you through the boards as much as Thornton can, as much as Paille can, they can fight as much as Campbell can. That’s going to be the X factor that really helped the Bruins last series, it won’t be as much of an impact this series.”

Andrew Ference, who missed the entire Rangers series with what the Bruins called a lower-body injury, skated with his teammates at Tuesday’s practice. That’s let to discussion about which young defenseman the B’s might sit if the team wants to make room for the veteran. McGuire suggested the B’s might want to give Ference more time to recover fully.

“He’s walking around with a walking boot on, so clearly there’s a problem with the lower part of his foot or ankle,” McGuire said. “It’s not easy to come back from something like that at this time of the year. So, I don’t think they’re in a rush. And Andrew would probably be the first person to tell you: You know what, when a team’s playing as well as Boston’s playing, especially those players, you probably don’t take them out of the lineup.”

Another topic of discussion around the Bruins is whether the team should move Tyler Seguin back up to the second line in place of Jaromir Jagr.

“We saw what Jaromir could do in confined areas against the Rangers, and there were points in that series where he really wanted to take the puck over but he was overextending his shifts and you could see he was breaking down a little bit,” McGuire said. “Tyler, you could see, and I talked to Tyler a couple of times during the series, he was fighting it in terms of getting pucks in, but he was still making plays. I know he turned the puck over a couple of times. That’s going to happen with offensive players, you’re going to turn the puck over because they’re trying to make stuff happen with the puck. It’s the checkers that you can’t afford having them turn it over. Because they don’t do much with it. They chip it in and chip it out, and they usually don’t score a lot.

“Tyler will probably get augmented minutes. I’ve got to believe the coaching staff is seeing what we’re seeing, and that is that here’s a kid that’s got a chance to be a difference-maker, and his speed is going to be huge.”

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Matt Bartkowski on M&M: ‘It’s not my call’ who suits up for Bruins 05.28.13 at 2:16 pm ET
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Mat Bartkowski

Bruins defenseman Matt Bartkowski checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday afternoon to chat about the upcoming Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins.

Bartkowski and fellow call-up Torey Krug have played well since joining the team in the postseason following injuries to veteran blueliners. With Andrew Ference and Wade Redden back skating with the team, coach Claude Julien might soon have to make a roster decision.

“I don’t really think about it too much,” Bartkowski said. “I’m just trying to keep playing and assuming that I am going to play in the games. It’s not my call once it comes down it, who plays. All I can really do is put my best foot forward and see what happens.”

Bartkowski said the fact that he started the postseason playing in the AHL rather than sitting in Boston has played to his advantage.

“I think it was key that I went back down to play in Providence,” he said. “I think if I was just sitting up here and riding the bike, I don’t think I could have played the way I have. We were playing playoff hockey in Providence. It’s not the same level or speed or anything like that, but all in all, it’s still playoff hockey and you’ve got to bring the same intensity. That made a world of difference in being able to prepare for the role I’ve assumed up here.”

A Pittsburgh native who grew up a fan of the Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr-led Penguins of the 1990s, Bartkowski knows the Bruins will have their hands full with this edition of the Pens.

“Pittsburgh, you don’t want to call them an All-Star team, but they’ve got a lot of high-end talent,” he said. “I guess they’re more of a risk-reward team [than the Rangers]. I think it will be a pretty good matchup. We’re pretty defensively sound and we’re a strong team. It will be a fun series to play in.”

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Shawn Thornton on D&C: Penguins front lines ‘a force to be reckoned with’ 05.28.13 at 10:21 am ET
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Shawn Thornton

Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning and previewed the B’s Eastern Conference finals series against the Penguins, talked up “underhyped” goalie Tuukka Rask and revealed that he received a congratulatory text message from former teammate Tim Thomas after Game 3 vs. the Rangers.

The Bruins return to practice Tuesday following two days off since dispatching the Rangers in Game 5 on Saturday night, preparing for what is expected to be a much tougher test from the top-seeded Penguins.

“They’re a pretty deep group up front, that’s for sure,” Thornton said. “They’ve got guys like Brenden Morrow on their fourth line. That’s some pretty good players back there. So, yeah, they’re a force to be reckoned with up front.”

Added Thornton: “I know there’s a lot of hype with the guys we’re playing against, and rightfully so, they’re great players. It’s always kind of the Sidney Crosby show wherever he goes. He’s the face of the league and he’s probably the best player in the game. You can’t get caught looking at that. We have to worry about what’s going on in our locker room, like we did last series with the Rangers and the series before with Toronto. You can’t really worry about what’s going on outside. We’ve got to play our game if we want to be successful. … You get caught just trying to react to what they’re doing, you’ll get caught with your pants down. They’re a dangerous team.”

Asked if Crosby is the best player he’s played against, Thornton said: “Yeah, I’d say, all-around. There’s not much he doesn’t do well. He competes hard. Not only how skilled he is, his compete level is right up there. He never seems to take a night off. I think that’s part of the reason why he’s so good. ”

Thornton said there are no hard feelings toward Jarome Iginla after the veteran forward chose Pittsburgh over Boston at the trade deadline.

“No, I don’t care,” Thornton said. “He made a decision based on his personal opinion. He has a no-trade, he’s entitled to that. He earned it. He played a lot of great years in Calgary for that right. As a player, you can’t really fault him for it.”
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Reports: Bruins-Penguins series to start Saturday night 05.28.13 at 6:43 am ET
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According to multiple reports, the Bruins will open the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night in Pittsburgh. This would mean a week between games for the B’s, who finished off the Rangers at TD Garden in Game 5 this past Saturday.

The delay is due in part because both Western Conference semifinals are headed to Game 7s. The Blackhawks beat the Red Wings on Monday night in Game 6, and the final game in that series is scheduled for Wednesday. The Sharks and Kings play Game 7 Tuesday night.

Games 3 and 4 in Boston are likely to be next Wednesday and Friday. TD Garden is booked next Sunday and Monday nights for concerts featuring New Kids on the Block.

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Virtually impossible play’ for Dougie Hamilton on game-ending goal 05.24.13 at 2:01 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to offer his take on the Bruins’ mistake-prone 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers in Game 4.

McGuire said that despite Thursday’s loss, the Bruins have no reason to be overly concerned.

“The Rangers can talk about coming back and getting back in this series. It’s still 3-1. You’re going back to Boston for Game 5. And the Rangers should have lost that game last night,” McGuire said. “The Boston Bruins were full of self-inflicted wounds. … Whether it’s Tuukka Rask falling down, Tuukka and Zdeno Chara not communicating properly, Chara being lackadaisical with the puck. But also give credit where credit’s due: Henrik Lundqvist was phenomenal, especially in overtime.

“So, stuff’s going to happen in a playoff series. You can’t overreact to it. You move along, you play Game 5 and you do a good job in front of your fan base.”

McGuire said he was impressed with how the Bruins started Thursday’s game, and surprised at the Rangers’ performance.

“The Rangers had nothing going on,” he said. “The first period I was shocked. The shots were 12-4 and I was absolutely shocked at how the Rangers were playing. Jaromir Jagr in particular really had a sense of urgency to start that game. You could see the Bruins were jumping. They were good. They were ready to play.”

Added McGuire: “I’m telling you guys straight up: People are underplaying how deep Boston is and how good Boston is. And the Rangers don’t match up particularly well with Boston. That’s just the reality because they don’t have the same kind of offensive depth, especially down the middle, as they have in Boston. That’s a big problem. You compound that with the Chara factor and with the [Johnny] Boychuk factor in terms of size. You’ve got some very big defensemen. Whatever offensive press you might have if you’re New York, it gets shut down pretty quick.”

Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton was beaten on the game-winning goal when Chris Kreider redirected a pass from Rick Nash past Rask in overtime. McGuire said Hamilton was in a tough spot.

“That play, by the way, you’ve got numbers back, you’re in a good position,” McGuire said. “I will say this, and I’m not trying to be overly defensive of the young player: You tell me, in this new NHL, what Hamilton’s supposed to do against a player that’s 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, and can skate as fast as almost anybody in the league. That is a virtually impossible play. It’s a beautiful pass by Nash. And the only thing Hamilton could have done — and if he’s a little bit older, maybe he does do — he takes a penalty. … Because that is an unbelievably difficult play to defend. Because of the size of the man attacking the net, because of the speed of the man attacking the net, and because of the precision of the pass made by Rick Nash. That’s an unbelievable pass by Nash and a great finish by Kreider. This is something he’ll learn over time. In that situation you may just take a penalty. Just tackle the guy as he goes to the net.”

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Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘I had my problems with the officiating’ in Game 4 05.24.13 at 12:21 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley, in an interview with Mut & Merloni on Friday, talked about the B’s letdown that cost them Game 4 against the Rangers.

Of the Bruins’ many mistakes Thursday night, Brickley said Tuukka Rask‘s slip-up that allowed New York’s first goal was the biggest.

“The absolute critical moment in the game was the goal that Rask let in, the first goal of the game for the Rangers,” Brickley said. “Think about the situation: This is a knockout game, you have nothing going in terms of any kind of offensive attack — I think they had somewhere between seven, eight or nine shots on goal; maybe two quality scoring chances — down 2-0, the building’s dead, there’s no signs of believability from the New York Rangers. Then [Carl] Hagelin‘s little backhander eludes Tuukka Rask in a stumble. That was the absolute most critical point in the hockey game because all of a sudden the Rangers started to believe that they had a chance.”

Brickley also took issue with the officiating Thursday.

Said Brickley: “You knew you were in trouble when [Roman] Hamrlik gets the first penalty — that’s black and white, no-brainer, over the glass, delay of game. Then the next penalty comes to [Matt] Bartkowski. He gets locked up with [Ryan] Callahan. Callahan punches him in the head when they’re in separation. Bartkowski gives him a love tap to say, Hey, I’m aware of what just happened, and he’s the only one that gets the minor penalty. I said, Oh, this is going to be a tough night for me to analyze these officials and say that this is going to be OK. And you can even throw the [Jaromir] Jagr penalty in there — how late did that arm go up after the crowd reaction when he was trying to protect the puck in the neutral zone.

“I had my problems with the officiating. Can it be better? Absolutely. But it is what it is, and you’ve got to play through it.”

Another questionable decision came when Rangers forward Derick Brassard threw down his stick and gloves in hopes of fighting Brad Marchand, only to see Marchand skate away.

“I thought Brassard deserved a penalty in that situation,” Brickley said. “Marchand doing his job, getting under his skin. But I’ve seen it both ways. These are judgment calls.”

Dougie Hamilton was beaten on the game-winning goal by Chris Kreider. Brickley said how the 19-year-old defenseman responds will tell us a lot about his future.

“There was some good from Dougie last night and some not so good,” Brickley said. “On that game-winning goal, he’s not out of position. It’s a two-on-two and he’s fronting Kreider. He tries to get his stick right around the top of the circle knowing — and you heard the sound bite, he said, ‘I knew exactly where he was going and what he was going to do.’ But he didn’t get his stick. And when he tried a second time to get it, it was too late and he allowed Kreider to get that inside position. It was a well-executed play, but the microscope is on him because it’s the game-winner.”

Added Brickley: “These are good lessons for a young player. You have to have the heartache and the disappointment in order to reach the levels that you expect to reach as a professional athlete. These are the growing pains that are good to experience. It’s how you bounce back that determines your character.”

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Barry Pederson on D&C: ‘The Bruins are going to need a lot more intensity from their leaders’ 05.24.13 at 10:20 am ET
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Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk levels Rangers forward Derek Dorsett during Thursday night's Game 4. (AP)

NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to examine the B’s mistake-prone effort that cost them Game 4 vs. the Rangers.

Tuukka Rask had the most glaring error when he fell and let the Rangers break through with a cheap goal that cut the B’s lead to 2-1 in the second period.

“It’s one thing to give up a goal and kind of keep momentum. But the way that goal went in, with Tuukka falling flat on his butt and the puck going in, in one of the softer goals we’ve seen, that kind of started to change momentum,” Pederson said. “And then once [Zdeno] Chara gave up the other one it was as if kind of the floodgates opened up a little bit.

“But the Rangers still didn’t show me a lot last night. … It’s up to the Bruins. The Bruins are going to need a lot more intensity from their leaders. It wasn’t only Tuukka that I thought lost his concentration — because of probably lack of action — but also I didn’t think Chara, [Milan] Lucic and [David] Krejci, the three leaders that they’ve had so far this playoffs, I didn’t think they were nearly as intense as they had been. And that’s what makes it hard to win four games in a row. It’s not only the team that you’re playing is usually a little bit more desperate and playing with pride. It’s also the fact that you kind of let up a little bit.”

Added Pederson: “The Bruins just weren’t as intense and as focused as they need to be as a team. … You had the opportunity, you just let it slip through your fingers.”

Pederson said he was surprised at the effort — or lack thereof — from the Rangers.

“I didn’t see much at all from the Rangers last night that tells me, Oh, boy, this offensive juggernaut now all of a sudden is going to click; here they go. I thought it was a situation where the Bruins totally dominated the first part of that hockey game. I was shocked again at the end of the first period at how bad the New York Rangers looked. And then once the Bruins took that 2-0 lead I kind of felt like it was over and that the Bruins had complete control of this because the Rangers hadn’t showed us anything up to that point.

“So, the Bruins have to come home and be ready Saturday night right from the open, give the Rangers a reason to not show up. They have to bring that intensity level that they showed earlier on. I’m kind of counting on that, I think.”

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