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Barry Melrose on D&C: Maple Leafs have to ‘be the Boston Bruins to be successful’ 05.02.13 at 12:33 pm ET
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Barry Melrose

ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose talked with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday to analyze the Bruins’ Game 1 victory over the Maple Leafs. Game 2 is Saturday in Boston, before the series shifts to Toronto on Monday.

After trailing 1-0 early in the first period, the Bruins quickly answered with two first-period goals and coasted to a 4-1 win.

“[The Bruins] were awesome after [Wade Redden's goal],” Melrose said. “They looked like the old Bruins after that. They were physical, their play in the neutral zone was great. I can probably think of 10 passes and plays intercepted by the Boston Bruins in the neutral zone. They attacked the net with ferocity. And [Tuukka] Rask, he didn’t get a lot of work, but I thought he made three or four key saves when the game was on the line. It was just what the doctor ordered if you’re a Bruins fan.”

Melrose also discussed the importance for the Maple Leafs to be more physical in the coming games, and the consequence of not doing so — a quick exit in the playoffs.

“They have to play more aggressive,” Melrose said. “They’ve got to do some hitting. Toronto’s got to play on the edge. They’ve got to be finishing checks, winning battles. They’ve got to be the Boston Bruins to be successful, and they weren’t last night. They were always retaliating, they were never initiating, and that’s got to change for the Toronto Maple Leafs. If it doesn’t, this will be a short series.”

The Maple Leafs’ top offensive weapon, Phil Kessel, was essentially neutralized by the Bruins in Game 1. This is becoming all to familiar for Kessel, as he has struggled in his career against his former team, due in large part to Zdeno Chara‘s stellar defense.

“Chara’s on the ice every time Kessel’s on the ice,” Melrose said. “That just shows how good Chara is. Year in and year out I would give Chara the Norris Trophy, he’s that good defensively and that’s what he did last night. He’s out there with that huge reach. He’s got that mean streak to him, and Kessel just has no open ice. Kessel needs room, Kessel needs some space to make plays and with Chara and that long stick and that huge reach, he just doesn’t have any time or space to make plays. Chara always eats Kessel up.”

The favorites out of the Eastern Conference are the top-seeded Penguins, who took care of the Islanders 5-0 in their playoff opener. However, as we saw last year with the Kings, anything is possible in the playoffs.

“We see that every year,” Melrose said. “We see LA last year make the eighth spot and win the Stanley Cup and win it easily. It’s about getting your game together, it’s about getting hot at the right time, it’s about great goaltending, it’s about your special team kicking in key goals at key times and stopping their power play. We see it all the time. A team that looks unbeatable at the start of the playoffs loses in four straight. So, without a doubt things can change and change very quickly.”

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Read More: Barry Melrose, Phil Kessel, Tuukka Rask, Wade Redden
Barry Pederson on D&C: ‘Very important playoffs for Tuukka’ Rask 04.30.13 at 10:48 am ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to break down the B’s first-round playoff series against the Maple Leafs.

Tuukka Rask enters the playoffs looking to build on a strong regular season. (AP)

One of the potential question marks heading into this strike-shortened season for the B’s was goaltending. During the 2011 Stanley Cup run, Tim Thomas was a standout. Now Thomas’ former backup, Tuukka Rask, is the No. 1 netminder. Rask proved up to the task, finishing sixth in the NHL in goals-against average, third in save percentage and tied for first with five shutouts.

“This is going to be a very important playoffs for Tuukka,” Pederson said. “By most standards he had a very good season. I think he’ll be one of the finalists for the Vezina. He did not get enough support, especially through the power-play scoring and the offensive side. I expect the Bruins to have a little bit of an advantage over Toronto in the goaltending department, which is one of the reasons when we were doing our previews for the playoffs and who the Bruins would match up well against; I thought the Bruins would do much better on a matchup basis with Toronto and the Islanders vs. the Rangers and Ottawa. … The Bruins, when they’re successful, they attack. They come at you in waves. They forecheck, they put pressure on your defense, they have turnovers, they’re physical, they’re intense. Then they go to the dirty areas, that’s what I want to see.”

On offense, the Maple Leafs are led by former Bruin Phil Kessel. The 25-year-old led the team in goals (20), assists (32) and points (52), ranking eighth, ninth and sixth in the league in those categories, respectively.

[Kessel] is a very important player and the key guy there will be [Zdeno] Chara,” Pederson said. “It could also be [Dennis] Seidenberg if they’re going to go after them that way. So far, obviously the stats speak for themselves. Phil has had a tremendous offensive season except when he plays the Bruins, and there’s one reason for that. It’s Chara. He’s that good defensively.”

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Read More: Barry Pederson, Phil Kessel, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara
Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘definitely need another defenseman’ 03.28.13 at 1:01 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN’s Andy Brickley talked with Mut & Merloni on Thursday about the Jarome Iginla trade, Wednesday’s shootout loss to the Canadiens, and the tremendous play of Patrice Bergeron.

Brickley said of Iginla’s decision to go to Pittsburgh: “I don’t think it’s the timeline that’s the difference here. What it comes down to, and this is the bothersome part for me certainly, the Calgary Flames, their ownership and their management team and their responsibility to their fan base, they need to make the best deal possible for the future of that franchise. If you just stack up the two deals, the Pittsburgh offer and the Boston offer, there’s no comparison. The Boston offer is better. It leads you to believe that Jarome Iginla shortened his list, shortened it to one team when the deals were on the table.”

With this blockbuster falling apart, Brickley said that a trade may be necessary, but also some key players need to play better and get healthy for the stretch run.

“They’ve got to have [Johnny] Boychuk healthy,” Brickley said. “They’ve got to have [Adam] McQuaid healthy. They’ve got to have [Chris] Kelly healthy. They’ve got to have [Milan] Lucic and [Nathan] Horton playing a far more consistent game than you’re getting right now. … They need their power play to be a little sharper than it’s been. You hope that work in progress finds a good streak when you get into the postseason and then you have to add to that. They definitely need another defenseman, there’s no question about it.”

If the B’s do decide to go the route of acquiring a new player, they will have until Wednesday at 3 p.m. to complete a deal.

“I really like [Mark Streit],” Brickley said. “It all comes down to, ‘Do you think he’s a good fit? Can you afford him, and what’s the price to get him?’ It’s always that. That’s always the formula, those are always the variables. He would be definitely a guy that I think Bruins fans would appreciate. I think he’d fit in nicely here and I think he gives the Bruins far more options — versatility, flexibility on their back end.”

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Read More: Andy Brickley, Jarome Iginla, Patrice Bergeron,
John Buccigross on D&C: Bruins are ‘going to add a significant player’ before deadline 03.28.13 at 10:19 am ET
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John Buccigross

ESPN’s John Buccigross chatted with Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, focusing on the trade of Jarome Iginla to the Penguins.

By the end of the Bruins’ 6-5 shootout loss to the Canadiens, it still seemed almost certain that the B’s would acquire the six-time All-Star, in a move that would have immediately helped Boston’s Stanley Cup aspirations.

“This is an all-timer,” Buccigross said. “I can’t remember in NHL history when a player of this impact, future Hall-of-Famer, was all set to come to a team, especially an Original Six team like the Bruins, and the whole hockey world had it coming, and then it didn’t happen, and of all teams he goes to another up-and-coming kind of organization like the Penguins. It’s a stunner.”

A key part of the potential trade with the Bruins was the fact that Iginla had a no-trade clause, and that could have been the difference.

“I think Calgary got a little better deal with the Bruins than they got for two marginal prospects from the Penguins,” Buccigross said. “But in the end, the player had the no-trade clause and he controlled where he wanted to go.”

Even without Iginla, the Bruins still have a legitimate shot at making it to the Stanley Cup finals. The current fourth seed in the Eastern Conference, the B’s still could make a trade before Wednesday’s 3 p.m. deadline.

“Last night I almost tweeted, I’d rather see Jay Bouwmeester come to Boston than Jarome Iginla,” Buccigross said. “They need Jay Bouwmeester more than they need Jarome Iginla. A defenseman who’s experienced, who can really skate. He would become the Bruins’ best skating defenseman if he got traded to Boston. You look at Dennis Seidenberg, Zdeno Chara‘s not getting any faster. To me he looks a lot slower this year, personally. … A lot of big guys who don’t move so well around the Penguins and the Canadiens. So, I would prefer really good skating defenseman, and Jay Bouwmeester’s just that and he’s big.”

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Read More: Jarome Iginla, John Buccigross, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask
Darren Pang on D&C: Bruins ‘set for another challenge at the championship’ 02.26.13 at 12:14 pm ET
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NBC hockey analyst Darren Pang checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss the Bruins’ fast start and the Blackhawks’ even-better performance.

The Blackhawks have earned at least a point in each of their first 19 games with their NHL-record 16-0-3 start.

“That is incredible. I’m just amazed at the run that they’re on right now,” said Pang, a former goalie who played three seasons for the Blackhawks in the 1980s. “I’m in St. Louis right now and going to Toronto tomorrow for a Leafs game, but I should be back on Thursday and the streak will be on the line when the Blackhawks and the Blues play at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday. That will be a heck of a game. It always is. They don’t like each other. It is actually one of the true rivalries in the game. Once they get one playoff game behind them, if they end up facing each other in the playoffs this year I think people will really see how much St. Louis and Chicago don’t like each other. But I know that the Blues will want to end that great run that the Blackhawks are on on Thursday.”

While the Blackhawks clearly are the favorites in the Western Conference, there are a few teams that could make the claim in the East. Pang said the Bruins have the best chance.

“I think we have to be fair to how both Pittsburgh and Montreal have played, but I think there’s more strength in Boston than either of those teams,” Pang said. “It’s almost like last year in the West. There were teams that had more points than the LA Kings, but trust me, no one in the West wanted to play the LA Kings even though they were the eighth team. And it’s because of the way they’re built. They’re built with big, strong redwood trees on the wing, they’ve got good centermen up the middle of the ice, good depth, good defensemen that move the puck, and a horse on the blue line, and great goaltending. So, the same thing could be said about the Boston Bruins. If I were a team in the East, the one team I wouldn’t want to play to begin it all would be the Boston Bruins because I think they’re set for another challenge at the championship.”

One big reason for Boston’s early season success has been the play of goalie Tuukka Rask.

“I’m a big Tuukka Rask believer,” Pang said. “I think he’s waited his time. He’s ready to be a main guy. I like the way he handles things, he’s competitive, technically really sound. I’m impressed but I’m not surprised. A couple of years ago, before the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, when Tuukka had the ball and ran with it, he was pretty darn good and that was three years ago. So I knew he’d be ready for this challenge that’s ahead of him right now.”

Zdeno Chara showed surprising dexterity for a 6-foot-9 defenseman Sunday, pulling off a spin move and scoring against the Panthers in the B’s 4-1 victory.

“That was elegant,” Pang said. “Like Jean Beliveau was such a gentleman on the ice — competitive, it doesn’t mean you’re not competitive, but just the grace and the elegance that the big fella did that at was absolutely amazing. It wasn’t just the spin-o-rama, it was the saucy backhander. Not many guys can pull that heel-to-toe backhander off and go top cheese under the bar and in. That was what was spectacular, and at his size, no less.”

Read More: Darren Pang, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara,
Barry Pederson on D&C: Bruins ‘need to get their power play going’ 02.12.13 at 11:32 am ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to talk about the team’s hot start to the season.

The Bruins are 8-1-1 and two points behind the Devils for the top seed in the Eastern Conference. However, there is one area of play where the B’s definitely can improve.

“A big concern, of course, I think is the power play,” Pederson said. “These games right now, even though they’re off to the best start in franchise history in 10 games at 8-1-1, their power play is right near the bottom again. They got away with it in the Stanley Cup run, but I don’t think you can do it two years in a row. They need to get their power play going. They’ve outplayed teams I think a lot more than the score shows.”

One of the Bruins’ most aggressive and controversial players is Brad Marchand. He is off to a great start, scoring six goals and recording one assist.

“Brad Marchand is an extraordinarily important part of this hockey team,” Pederson said. “He helps set a lot of the energy. He’s a good specialty team guy, he’s great with his speed, backs off the other team’s defense. As we all know, as Bruins fans, if he was on the other team I don’t think we’d like him quite as much.”

Another key part to the team’s success is Andrew Ference. While the defenseman doesn’t always get the deserved recognition, he clearly is a critical part to the team.

“I think he is one of the most underrated players on this team,” Pederson said. “He’s more gifted offensively than he’s given credit for. He’s not necessarily big in stature, but he’ll stick his nose in there. He and [Adam] McQuaid are a very, very steady tandem out there. I think one through six on team defense the Bruins are as good as anybody. … He’s a guy that’s a good leader.”

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Read More: Andrew Ference, Barry Pederson, Brad Marchand, Henrik Lundqvist
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