|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.
|Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden on D&C: Penguins tired of Matt Cooke’s act||06.07.13 at 11:14 am ET|
Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden, who earned the enmity of Bruins fans earlier in the week when he insisted that Tuukka Rask is a mediocre goalie, joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning and was asked if his opinion has changed now that the Bruins have a 3-0 series lead.
“God knows, he’s had trouble winning the fourth game in the past, so I’d rather reserve judgment,” Madden said of Rask. “He’s played very well, the goalposts have done very well, too.
“But to me, the story of this series has been [David] Krejci and the job Claude Julien has done outcoaching Dan Bylsma,” Madden continued. “Bylsma did a better job in the third game, but he waited 120 minutes to make adjustments he should have been making after 40. Whereas Claude Julien has been one step ahead all the time. He’s coached an excellent series. Gutsy lineup change yanking [Matt] Bartkowski and putting [Andrew] Ference back in, but Ference has played very well. Those are the guys I give primary credit to.
“The Penguins just have not had an answer for David Krejci. He plays such a quiet game, but I mean that in a good way. Before you know it he’s open, a split-second after that it’s in the net. He’s just been amazing.”
“I think Crosby’s played a bigger role in Crosby’s disappearance,” Madden said. “I’ve got to be honest, the Penguins as a team have not handled adversity well, which is a disturbing pattern in the last four playoff years. I thought that the stars played a bit better for the Penguins in Game 3. But still, a loss is a loss, there’s no moral victories. And Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin and [Kris] Letang have no points between them and are a combined minus-12. Like Mario Lemieux always used to say, ‘When you make the most money, you’ve got to do the most.’ And those guys make the most money.”
Matt Cooke, already reviled in Boston, has not earned any new friends with his chippy play in this series. Madden said he expects Cooke to be playing elsewhere next season.
Said Madden: “Matt Cooke is perceived by a lot of people — and I bought into it at first — into having a good playoffs because he’s [doing] a good job on the penalty kill and he’s been a good forechecker. But he has zero goals in the playoffs. How can any forward on the top three lines be perceived to be having a good playoffs if he has zero goals? Plus, he’s taken a ton of penalties. The Penguins will be well rid of Matt Cooke. That’s not to say he won’t help another team. But they’re just tired of his act. That’s in the locker room, too. ‘¦ Guys are just tired of having to clean up his messes.”
|Barry Pederson on D&C: Overaggressive Penguins ‘not making any plays’||06.07.13 at 10:25 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to preview Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins can wrap up the series Friday night after taking a 3-0 series lead with Wednesday’s 2-1 victory in double overtime.
“It’s going to be tough for Pittsburgh, I think, to kind of bounce back after that type of loss,” Pederson said. “It wasn’t only a loss, it was the way you lose it, in double overtime. I think they had poured their emotion — they had obviously played a lot better than they had in the previous two games. I don’t think the Bruins played as well as they did in the two previous. But I do think the second period was kind of the opportunity for Pittsburgh to climb back in that series. They had three straight power plays and were unsuccessful. For the Bruins to come out of there in that situation, I think it kind of carried over into the overtimes.”
Pederson said the Penguins should have more urgency in this game, but they need a different strategy if they’re going to succeed.
Said Pederson: “I think the biggest surprise to me is not how well the Bruins are playing, because I’ve been around this enough and Claude Julien and his system to know how many good players they have, but it’s how poorly the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing and how out of sync they are with their game, and how they continue to sit in this game plan of — for some reason they must have watched the Vancouver series and thought that the Bruins had out-physicalitied the Vancouver Canucks, and we’re not going to let that happen to us, we’re not going to be intimidated. And they’re just running around like chickens with their heads cut off physically, and they’re not making any plays.”
With Gregory Campbell out after breaking his leg blocking a shot in the second period of Game 3, Pederson looked at the Bruins’ options going forward.
“What I would expect them to probably try and do is maybe move [Daniel] Paille up to that third line with [Chris] Kelly and [Tyler] Seguin, probably bring in [Kaspars] Daugavins or [Jordan] Caron, but I think Daugavins because I think the coach has more trust in him defensively, and he plays more of a fourth-line type of role. That means you move [Rich] Peverly to center, I think the coach trusts him there defensively and on faceoffs, he takes enough big faceoffs that you know that you can trust him in his own end. And of course with Shawn Thornton.
“So, I think they’ll try and play it that way. It will probably be more of a three-line rotation, but you will probably see this fourth line obviously a lot more than you did in the last game after Soupy was unfortunately out of the game.”
Pederson said the loss of Campbell cannot be overlooked.
“It’s big,” Pederson said. “It’s big because, we talked about going into the playoffs, if you had a strength, would you rather have a power play or penalty-killing. By far and away, when you look at the last two winners of the Stanley Cup, the Bruins and LA, we remember how dreadful both power plays were. But their penalty-killing and goaltending were exceptional. That just doesn’t give an offensive team any life whatsoever. So, they’re really going to miss him there.
“They’re going to miss him as a character player. He’s one of those guys that, like Shawn Thornton, in the dressing room the teammates just admire and respect what they do on a regular basis. It’s one thing for people just to remember him as a great role player in the sense that he goes out, he kills penalties, he does the little things that the coach really needs, and you can trust him to go out there and not be scored against. But it’s those games throughout the regular season when it’s 3-1, the Bruins are down, you need some type of momentum change. Well, he and Shawn Thornton go out there and do what they have to do to try and engage somebody. A lot of times, we all know with Soupy, he’s going to grab someone bigger than him, and he takes one for the team. And the guys really appreciate that.”
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: Gregory Campbell ‘a special kind of person’||06.06.13 at 10:08 am ET|
Following Wednesday’s 2-1 overtime victory over the Penguins, Bruins forward Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning to offer his thoughts on the instant classic that ended with Patrice Bergeron‘s goal in double overtime.
“I wasn’t too involved,” Thornton joked, as he saw minimal action and was confined to the bench after linemate Gregory Campbell was injured in the second period. “On the edge of my seat the whole time. It was exciting.
“You can’t say enough about Bergy, the way he plays on both sides of the puck. For him to get that goal for us is huge. He’s been great for us this whole playoffs. It was very deserving that he was the one that potted it.
“It was back and forth; it could have went either way. We ended up pulling it out, and that’s all that matters.”
Thornton played just four minutes in the game, in part because of Campbell’s injury and also because of a flurry of penalties the Bruins had.
“Not for lack of playing well, I was told afterwards,” he said. “We kind of went down to like three lines. ‘¦ When we have everyone healthy its easy to roll four lines. But when not, it’s a little bit tougher.”
Campbell’s toughness in taking a slap shot off his leg — reportedly breaking a bone — but getting back up and doing all he could to help the B’s penalty kill provided a spark to the team.
“Myself, a couple of guys, we talked about it in between [periods]. Somebody lays down and puts himself on the line like that, let’s not let it be all for naught, I guess,” Thornton said. “That’s huge. It’s not easy to block shots. People from the outside look in, maybe think that, oh, that’s what you’re supposed to do. But there’s that split-second before you see that guy tee it up and you know it’s going to hurt like hell and you still have to lay down in front of it. Not everyone has that in him. That was huge of him. Who knows if that would have been the shot that was the difference for that game.
“We’re very happy to have him on our team. I’ve been blessed to play with him for three years. He does stuff like that all the time. He throws himself out there and puts his body on the line, whether it’s fighting somebody or laying down in front of shots or finishing his checks. He’s a warrior for us.”
Added Thornton: “How about the courage on him to stand up and play on that leg. He wasn’t going to let anything — I think he tried to block another one. That takes a special kind of person. ‘¦ It might look simple, but that’s not an easy thing to do. I’ve been there. Every hockey player at some point has flamingoed it at one point or another. It’s not easy to do that.”
The Bruins look to wrap up the series on Friday night.
“Closing out a series is always the toughest game, to get this fourth game. Their backs are against the wall,” Thornton said, adding: “They are going to give us their best, and we’re going to have to be a lot better than we were last night. Because I think that they were probably the better team for the majority of the game, to be honest.”