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Andy Brickley D&C: Phil Kessel ‘was just a really immature kid’ 11.30.11 at 9:42 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan for his weekly appearance to discuss the Bruins’ upcoming two-game series with the Maple Leafs that starts on Wednesday night in Toronto. The teams will square off in Boston in the second game on Saturday.

The Leafs lead the Northeast division with 30 points, while the Bruins are right on their heels with 29 points in second place. Boston is already 2-0 against the Leafs this season, though, winning the latest game on Nov. 5 in blowout fashion, 7-0. Brickley explained that the Bruins match up well with the Maple Leafs.

“I like the match-ups. I think Boston matches up pretty good against Toronto,” Brickley said. “It’ll be a little bit more difficult here in Toronto because of the change situation so you’ll see a little bit of chess match tonight trying to get [Zdeno] Chara basically and his partner out there tonight against Phil Kessel and his line. I think that if you’re able to keep that line, especially Phil Kessel off the scoreboard, and then you match up the three forward lines against each other’s D-pairings, it favors Boston. That’s generally the way it goes and I think Boston has a huge advantage in goal.”

As Brickley pointed out, the Bruins will need to contain Kessel, who leads the NHL in both points (31) and goals (16). The former Bruin has flourished in Toronto since being traded from Boston in 2009, while the B’s drafted Tyler Seguin with one of the picks they received from the Leafs. Brickley said that Kessel had maturity issues during his team in Boston and that he wanted more money than the Bruins were willing to pay.

“I think he was just a really immature kid,” Brickley said. “He had some baggage, personal baggage when the Bruins first drafted him and they were well aware of that. The immaturity factor, expectation level, not only by the Bruins organization but from Phil himself. I don’t think he was prepared for that. Could not handle criticism. Could not handle you have to earn your ice time.

“When you add a breakout year when he scored a bunch of goals, you saw how much money everybody was making across the league. Based on those numbers, and he wanted that money right then and there, and the Bruins weren’t prepared to pay him.”

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Andy Brickley on D&C: Revenge on Milan Lucic could start early 11.23.11 at 9:49 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance to discuss the surging Bruins, who are on a nine-game winning streak.

Boston faces the Sabres on Wednesday night in a game between two Northeast Division rivals. But the game is also notable because of what occurred the last two teams faced off. In the Bruins’ win over Buffalo on Nov. 12, winger Milan Lucic collided with Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller, who had left his crease to retrieve a loose puck. Some perceived it as a dirty hit by Lucic, but Buffalo did not react to it during the game. In Wednesday’s game, however, the Sabres are expected to seek out Lucic and exact revenge, and Brickley said that it could happen right away.

“I’m hoping that we get a look at it right from the opening puck drop,” Brickley said, adding: “It’s either going to be a bloodbath right from the start or it’s going to be a Wednesday night November game between two teams battling for first place or something in between. You never know what you’re going to get. But the anticipation is that the Buffalo Sabres are going to let the Bruins know that they’re going to man up and stand up from themselves and for one another.”

After the Sabres missed their first chance to respond, they received widespread criticism. Although both teams reportedly have been spoken to by NHL discipline boss Brendan Shanahan, Brickley said the Sabres can’t afford to let another opportunity pass.

“You never really get that same exact genuine opportunity that they had to respond when Lucic collided with Miller — or hit him or checked him or ran him, however you want to describe it. That opportunity has come and gone. And you never get that same opportunity back,” Brickley said. “But because these guys are division rivals and they’re both very good teams, they expect to see each other in the postseason, they have to respond. And if it means you sacrifice the two points tonight to send a certain message even though it’s really not part of their DNA, it’s not really how their team is made up, they do have to stand up for themselves tonight.”

Asked who he thought would be the one to fight Lucic, Brickley mentioned Sabres center Paul Gaustad. After the game on Nov. 12, Gaustad said that he was embarrassed by his team’s failure to respond to Lucic’s hit immediately.

“I expect Gaustad, he was kind of under the microscope, he had a lot of things to say following the game about how embarrassed they were,” Brickley said. “Pretty good-sized guy. He’s not on a short list on the toughest guys in the NHL, but he’s tough.”

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Andrew Ference on D&C: Bruins take the Bill Belichick approach on trade rumors 11.18.11 at 10:11 am ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning for his weekly appearance. With their 2-1 shootout win over the Blue Jackets Thursday night, Ference and the Bruins have now won seven straight games, all in the month of November. But the win over Columbus was not as easy — or as pretty — as the other wins have been for Boston. Ference said that’s just all part of the game.

“It definitely wasn’t a pretty thing to watch,” Ference said. “They came to play and it was a weird game, it probably wasn’t the best game to watch. What can you do? Those happen, but come playoff time, we’ll take the points.”

Coming up big for Boston was goaltender Tuukka Rask, who had 30 saves and stopped two of the three attempts in the shootout. Rask was part of trade rumors early in the week, as some have speculated that the Bruins would consider trading him for Blue Jackets high scorer Rick Nash.

The rumors only got more press when Rask appeared to have an angry meltdown in practice on Wednesday when he gave up a goal during a special teams drill and tried to break his stick over the crossbar. But Ference said he doesn’t think the team pays much attention to trade speculation.

“I’m not even really sure who pays attention to that stuff. I know most guys don’t,” Ference said. “I think most guys kind of go to the Bill Belichick, never read anything that goes on. It sounds like a cop out, but I really think guys don’t pay attention to it.”

Ference went on to say that it’s an advantage to have two solid goaltenders in Rask and Tim Thomas.

“[Rask] is great for us. I think it’s awesome to have two goalies that we can have complete confidence in,” Ference said. “From a player’s perspective, you want the best players on your team. Players that you have the greatest chance of winning with. And if I can look back and see two goalies that gives us an unbelievable chance of winning every night, why wouldn’t I want that? I’d be crazy not to.”

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Andy Brickley on D&C: Not a good idea to challenge Bruins’ manhood 11.16.11 at 9:55 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance.

The Bruins defeated the Devils, 4-3, Tuesday night for their sixth straight win. It was a game that Boston had to work for all three periods to win, as opposed to the blowout victories the B’s had earlier in the winning streak.

“I think in this six-game winning streak this is the first game that when the Bruins pushed, there was a push back,” Brickley said. “Boston had to earn just about every inch of ice that they got. The good news was that Boston got better the deeper they got in that game. They had a strong third period and their will to win in the third period was clearly evident. A team that is feeling ultra-confident right now.”

The Bruins started the season 3-7, but they have drastically turned it around, winning all six games they’ve played in November. The team is averaging just under six goals per game this month. Brickley said that many people will point to the increased goal-scoring and improvement on the power play as the main factors in Boston’s winning streak, but he thinks the biggest change has come in the B’s’ own zone.

“They went back to being and reemphasizing a Bruins team that takes away the middle of the defensive zone and tries to keep everything to the perimeter to allow their goaltenders to get good looks at pucks and not allow second-chance opportunities,” Brickley said. “When they play that way, their counterattack game now really becomes more prominent.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On Brad Marchand’s play against the Devils: “He took two offensive zone penalties, whether he agreed with the goaltender interference penalty, and then away from the puck really a meaningless roughing penalty that really served no purpose, and I know that’s part of his game. But listen, the second one’s a really bad penalty. You’re interested in winning the hockey game as well as playing to your strengths. Yeah, that was definitely a teaching moment, and I loved the fact that Claude sat him down. He got an opportunity probably to address his teammates in the locker room before the third period, saying, ‘My bad, that’s on me, I’m going to get it back.’ And to get it back the way he did on that set play right off the faceoff in the third period was a thing of beauty.”

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Andrew Ference on D&C: ‘Turn the page’ from miserable October 11.04.11 at 12:13 pm ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning for his weekly appearance. Ference talked about Boston’s win over Ottawa Tuesday night and how the Bruins are looking to rebound from a poor start to the season.

“We definitely wanted to turn the page from the last month,” Ference said. “November, it’s symbolic of a new page for us. We wanted to make it a good month. It was frustrating in October. We didn’t play as good as we want to, and then some of the games where we had multiple posts and games it was frustrating that way. It was good to get out of that month.”

After starting the season 2-7, the Bruins have won their last two games. They will face the Northeast division-leading Maple Leafs on Saturday in Toronto. Ference also talked about the importance of momentum, something Boston certainly didn’t have early in the season.

“A very powerful tool,” Ference said of momentum. “It can be really powerful. It can. Sometimes you don’t really want to believe it, especially when you’re losing. But it can work both ways. Momentum and confidence, when you say those words, you’re talking about the same thing. It’s just a matter of feeling good.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

On players trying to make plays when the team is struggling: “That can almost be a trap as well. When you start to get in that kind of mindset where it’s up to you to do something special to open up the game or change things around. There’s a difference between playing really good, solid hockey and doing your job well, and trying to do too much. Usually when guys try to do too much, it’s a bad thing.

“We’re the type of team that doesn’t really on complete individual talent or one guy doing something really special. We really do rely on a strong system.”

On his most important quality for a coach: “I think first and foremost is honesty. Just being up front. That covers a lot of things, but just being up front with his assessment of the games. Being honest in fact where he treats players, whether it’s the star or whether it’s the fourth-line guy or whether it’s the rookie or whether it’s the veteran, if he holds them to the same standard. I think those things are so important. When you start having different rules for different players and different expectations, it breaks the room down.”

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Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘I expect moves to be made’ by Bruins 11.02.11 at 9:31 am ET
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Andy Brickley

Bruins color analyst Andy Brickley joined Dennis & Callahan Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance to discuss the Bruins’ 5-3 win over the Senators Tuesday night.

Boston broke a 3-3 deadlock in the third period with goals from Johnny Boychuk and Daniel Paille just 37 seconds apart. Brickley said that it is a big boost for a team when the fourth line is able to score.

“It’s huge. That fourth line isn’t necessarily a line you look for to score, even though they did last year,” Brickley said. “You look at the momentum changes, you already brought up the Thornton fight, that’s a significant contribution from those guys. Paille’s a really good penalty-killer, as is [Gregory] Campbell. Campbell wins faceoffs, Campbell gets in people’s faces. That’s the kind of thing you’re looking for. They may start a period, they may start a game, they may set a tempo, but when they’re actually putting pucks in the net, that’s huge for the entire locker room and the bench, everybody gets a really lift from that.”

Brickley was also impressed with the Bruins defensive play, despite the three goals allowed. Boston allowed just 26 shots on Tim Thomas, as opposed to the 41 shots the Bruins put on Senators goaltender Craig Anderson.

“I liked a lot of what they did, especially defensively getting back to the very foundation of what they are and trying to reestablish their identity,” Brickley said. “I thought they played pretty well against Toronto, but I thought from a defensive standpoint, that was probably their best effort last night.”

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Andrew Ference on D&C: ‘We needed a little shakeup’ 10.21.11 at 10:47 am ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning for his weekly appearance. After the Bruins’ dominating 6-2 victory over the Maple Leafs Thursday night, Ference talked about Boston’s line changes and improvement on the power play.

“It’s one of those things, the power play was actually working pretty good, we were getting the puck around, we just weren’t putting it in,” Ference said. “We were working towards larger things on the power play and we felt that it was doing a lot of good things, so it was a matter of time.”

The Bruins scored twice on the power play against Toronto, with Ference assisting on one of those goals. In addition to better play from special teams, the Bruins also benefited from some line changes made by coach Claude Julien in recent days. The top line of Milan Lucic, Chris Kelly and Tyler Seguin was particularly effective against the Maple Leafs. Ference said that the line changes helped the Bruins get back to focusing on the simple parts of the game.

“I think it helped, it energized guys I think a bit, just to give them a little kick in the pants,” Ference said. “I think when you change linemates, you get out of your comfort zone a bit. You really just concentrate on doing simple things, like skating hard, getting to the net, throwing pucks at the net.

‪”It was a good move. We needed a little shakeup. Guys were a little bit stale with the old lines and you can always go back to them, but I think just letting guys concentrate on the simple things really helps.”‬

Ference also talked about emotions running high in the Bruins’ loss to the Hurricanes on Tuesday and forward Shawn Thornton‘s value to the team.

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

On Boston’s penalty-filled loss to the Hurricanes: “I think that game, the emotion was a byproduct of the frustration. When our team’s good, the emotion’s just a part of our game. It’s not forced, it’s just there. I think that I mentioned after the game, the game of hockey within its rules allows us to be very physical, allows us to be emotional without hitting the box all night. When our team’s playing well, sure there are fights here and there, but we’re just a physical team all the time. We’re always hitting, always forechecking, always giving teams no room. … In a game where there’s a bunch of fights and a bunch of penalties and it’s just kind of chaotic with the physical stuff, that’s going to happen once in a while but that stuff’s definitely not something that we define ourselves as.”

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