|Shawn Thornton on D&C: Jaromir Jagr has ‘bought in’ to Bruins system||06.19.13 at 9:35 am ET|
Despite the Bruins’ domination in their 2-0 victory in Game 3 on Monday night, Thornton said his team is not overconfident.
“It’s just one game,” he said. “We played pretty well last game. [But] we had some frustration, too. We took a few penalties and we had some emotions at the end, too. So, it could have went either way. We just were fortunate enough that Tuukka [Rask] stood on his head and got us that shutout. To say that we’re in control I think is a little bit of a stretch at this point in the series.”
The Blackhawks were never more inept than when on the power play, as the Bruins stopped all five opportunities (allowing just four shots) and had better scoring chances shorthanded.
“They have pretty dangerous players over there,” Thornton said. “Our PK has done a very good job so far. But when I was in [penalty box] last game for two minutes, I was sweating the whole time hoping that my penalty wasn’t the reason they scored.
“They were missing [Marian] Hossa, one of their best players, last game. I don’t know what happened to him. But he’s back tonight, as far as I know. I think it will be a little bit of a different game tonight.”
The Bruins have demonstrated a solid team approach, committing to coach Claude Julien‘s defense-oriented system. Asked who the most important Bruin is, Thornton said newcomer Jaromir Jagr deserves credit for adjusting his game to fit the B’s style.
“Everyone has to buy in for us to be successful,” Thornton said. “The most impressive is probably I’d say Jagr, being that he just got here. I don’t know a whole lot about where he was before this — other than what you read on paper, and everyone knows — but I’m pretty sure that he’s pretty used to doing his own thing out there, and it’s worked out pretty well for him the last 22 years. He comes in here and he’s backchecking and finishing checks and battling on pucks. That’s pretty impressive when you’ve been doing something one way for 21 years and now you’re told you’re going to do it this way if you want to have success, and he’s bought in.
“The other guys, top to bottom, the whole time I’ve been here, it starts with those big boys. Then the little guys like myself have to fall in line and follow the system or else you’re not around. So, I think all the way throughout it’s been pretty good.”
Patrice Bergeron has stepped into the national spotlight with his all-around play in this series, something Thornton noted is long overdue.
“I think he’s finally getting his due,” Thornton said. “We’ve appreciated him in that room for the last five, six years that I’ve been here. He’s so good defensively. And the players he plays with — this isn’t taking anything away from [Tyler Seguin] or [Brad Marchand] when they’re together, or Jags and Marchy now, but if you put another centerman in between them, I’m not sure if they’re as successful in their own zone. He does a lot of things to cover up — not cover up, but he’s in the position to let them maybe take advantage a little bit more offensively, because he’s so good at being in the right spot and making sure that he’s behind you 100 percent defensively.”
Added Thornton: “On the other side of the puck he doesn’t get enough credit, how good he is offensively. He’s finally starting to get some due because he’s scored some timely goals for us in the playoffs. But when we skate with him in the offseason and in training camp and on a daily basis, the things you see him do with the puck, and how strong he is on it and how quick he is, there’s not too many guys that can control it like him.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘a very, very difficult team to play against’||06.18.13 at 1:14 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to dissect the Bruins’ 2-0 victory in Monday’s Game 3.
The B’s frustrated the Blackhawks by limiting Chicago’s scoring opportunities.
“First of all, [the Bruins] were really doing a good job controlling the puck and controlling the neutral zone and dictating the terms of the game, that’s No. 1 and 2,” McGuire said. “I think the third thing they did, obviously, is they were able to get last change, so they had the matchups they wanted. Not having Marian Hossa in the lineup for Chicago really hurt them in terms of manufacturing offense. ‘¦ That’s a big loss for Chicago; that’s not Boston’s fault.
“And then for both teams, the ice conditions. Tuukka Rask alluded to it when I interviewed him, and Dennis Seidenberg and I talked about it after the game. The ice conditions were not good. I could tell in the morning they weren’t going to be good because of the humidity in the city of Boston yesterday. There’s not a building in the league that would have had good ice yesterday, just because of the humidity. You’ve got to hope it cools off.
“But Boston’s doing exactly what they did to Pittsburgh: They’re killing the stars. Look at the hits on Jonathan Toews. They’re just crushing him. Hey, that’s all fair game in hockey. That’s part of the sport.”
McGuire also praised the Bruins defense and noted: “You add in the Patrice Bergeron factor and the faceoff-winning factor for the Bruins, and they’re a very, very difficult team to play against.”
McGuire noted that the Blackhawks’ comeback in Game 1 might have come at a cost.
“The one thing I’ll you that I don’t think is getting talked about enough: The wear and tear of Game 1, the three overtimes, I think it took a lot more out of Chicago, even though they won, compared to what it took out of Boston. I really do,” he said.
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: No excuse for Bruins’ slow start in Game 2, ‘can’t let it happen again’||06.17.13 at 9:50 am ET|
The Bruins were outshot 19-4 in the first period of Saturday night’s Game 2, but some inspiring words in the locker room got the B’s motivated and they responded with a 2-1 overtime win. Thornton wouldn’t reveal which players led the talk, but he said the feeling in the room was mutual.
“We knew we were not good enough,” he said. “But we also brought up the fact that even though we were terrible, that was probably as good as they were going to be be, and maybe as bad as we were going to be, that Tuukka [Rask] gave us a chance to only be down 1-0. If we could regroup, then we could get things going.”
Thornton said while the Bruins started slow, the Blackhawks deserve some credit for dominating the opening 20 minutes.
“I don’t have a reasoning for [the slow start]. All I can say is it wasn’t good enough, and we can’t let it happen again,” Thornton said. “Give them credit, though. They came out flying. They were ready from the drop of the puck. They really pushed the pace. We’re fortunate to have [Rask] in there backstopping. If it wasn’t for him, it would have been a lot different.”
Pressed as to why the Bruins came out so flat, Thornton said: “I have no idea. My only thought is maybe it took 20 minutes for guys to get their legs underneath them after the long game [Wednesday]. But I don’t want to sound like excuses, because there isn’t. I have no idea why everyone wasn’t ready to go right from the drop of the puck. There’s no excuse for it.”
Thornton said he expects a stronger start in Game 3.
“It better be,” he said. “We’re at home, we should be able to feed off our crowd and be ready to go for the drop of the puck. The good news is it’s an 8 o’clock game [the first two games started at 7 p.m. Chicago time]. Last time we didn’t show up ’til 8.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Zdeno Chara’s presence ‘mammoth in a series like this’||06.10.13 at 1:38 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to preview the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.
The B’s and Blackhawks have a number of similarities, but McGuire said no other team has someone who can compare to Zdeno Chara.
“They’re similar in a lot of different respects,” McGuire said. “They’re similar in terms of their star power through the middle. They’re similar in terms of their size and their speed on the wings. They’re similar in terms of veteran experience in goal — or lack thereof. They’re similar in terms of their depth on defense. Chicago’s left defense [Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy] is much faster than Boston’s left defense. That’s a key part of the Chicago team. But nobody outside of Boston has Chara. That is mammoth in a series like this.”
Added McGuire: “Chara’s made a huge impact on these playoffs, as he usually does, and he’s made a huge impact especially in the last series.”
Another similarity is the fact that both teams have an agitator who has some talent: Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw. Of Shaw, McGuire joked that Bruins fans “are going to learn to love him quick.”
“Like Marchand, Shaw has tremendous offensive skill. ‘¦ He’s not a guy that’s just a super pest. He’s a player. He’s a real player,” McGuire said. “He’s very similar to Marchand. I don’t know if his top-end skill is as good as Marchand; in fact, I would say it’s not. But his pest factor is as high if not higher. He’s fearless, absolutely fearless. Tremendous player. There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t want this player.”
|Stanley Cup finals schedule: Bruins host games next Monday, Wednesday||06.10.13 at 11:04 am ET|
The NHL made official the schedule for the Stanley Cup finals — pitting the Bruins against the Blackhawks — confirming that it will open on Wednesday night in Chicago (televised on NBC). All games will start shortly after 8 p.m.
Game 2 is Saturday in Chicago (NBCSN). Games 3 (NBCSN) and 4 (NBC) are next Monday and Wednesday in Boston.
If necessary, Game 5 will be Saturday, June 22, in Chicago. Game 6 would be back in Boston on Monday, June 24. Game 7 would be Wednesday, June 26, in Chicago. All those games are scheduled to be broadcast on NBC.
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘You never really expect to sweep a [Penguins] team with that much firepower’||06.10.13 at 10:13 am ET|
The Bruins open the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday in Chicago against the Blackhawks, who led the league with 77 points in the abbreviated regular season.
Thornton spent five years in the Chicago organization and made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in the 2002-03 season, so he has some familiarity with a few of the current Blackhawks.
“I think their back end is as mobile as anybody’s in the NHL,” Thornton said. “I think that they’re a puck-possession team. If you give them their opportunities, if you turn that puck over they get going the other way in a hurry. They have some really, really crafty forwards up front also with [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews and [Marian] Hossa. You definitely have to be careful.
“They’re similar in that way with the Penguins. But it’s kind of tough to compare them; we haven’t played against them this year. I only know from playing with those guys years back. I don’t really watch a whole lot of hockey.”
The Bruins are coming off a surprising four-game sweep of the top-seeded Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. The B’s shut down Pittsburgh’s heralded offensive stars and limited the Penguins to two goals in four games.
“I honestly did not think we’d be able to shut those guys down for a whole series. Sweep was a little surprising, too,” Thornton said. “I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 2-0. I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 3-0 and going into Game 4. But you never really expect to sweep a team with that much firepower.”
Added Thornton: “Our D did an unbelievable job. The forwards helped out, but you’ve got to give the D and Tuukka [Rask] a lot of credit. And our penalty-killers. A lot of blocked shots. A lot of being in the right position. A lot of layers. A lot of hard work defensively. Definitely not easy. They had their chances, too. They hit a few posts and stuff like that. But I think for the most part we did as good a job as can be done against those guys.”
|Don Cherry on D&C: Brad Marchand ‘no pest’||06.07.13 at 12:15 pm ET|
Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry checked in with Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Cherry already is looking forward to a Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup finals.
“Every guy on that team has an edge, and they play with an edge, the Bruins,” Cherry said. “I don’t know when they get on against Chicago and that. But I know one thing, boy, they’re playing smoking now. And when Chicago wins — and they’re going to win, too — that’s going to be a bang-up series. Chicago doesn’t hit — I know I’m jumping ahead a little here — but they’d better be ready because it’s going to be a tough series for them. There’s a few guys on Chicago that I think you’re going to hear footsteps.”
Cherry credited Claude Julien with using a more cautious strategy in overtime of Game 3.
“One thing I’ve never seen before in the playoffs or any time: Everybody, when you get in the OT, you always say attack, get it over with quick, attack, attack, get it in the first five minutes. The Bruins, if you watch, they had five guys back. I’ve never seen it before. They had five guys back, waiting for them to come, sitting and waiting for a break. I’ve never seen that before. And they got the break when [Jaromir] Jagr took the puck off [Evgeni] Malkin, and they went in. ‘¦ You watch, just before the goal, they were back at the red line, waiting for a break. Boy, it really paid off, I’ll tell you.”
“He’s not a pest,” Cherry said. “A pest is a guy that will get you about three or four goals, or five or six goals, that will go around jabbing guys and stuff like that. This guy is above all that because he can score goals. He’s what you call a good player that goes around looking for trouble, causes disturbances and that. ‘¦ You just can’t call him a pest or dirty or anything like that, he’s too good a player for that. He’s above that stuff. He’s just a good, honest, hard player that can score goals. That’s the why I look at it. He’s no pest.”
Gregory Campbell has become a cult hero for playing with a broken leg after blocking a shot on the penalty kill in the second period of Game 3.
“There’s no other sport in the world [in which] a guy will play with a broken leg. ‘¦ That’s the spirit of the Bruins,” Cherry said.
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