|Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘Who can handle’ a determined Milan Lucic?||05.14.13 at 1:06 pm ET|
NESN Bruins commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to talk about the Bruins’ historic comeback in Game 7 against the Maple Leafs.
Brickley admitted he started questioning his faith in the Bruins when they fell behind by three goals in the third period before rallying for a 5-4 overtime victory.
“My believability was challenged that they could come back once we got close to that 10-minute mark,” Brickley said. “But I will go back to the beginning of the third period. When we were trying to set the stage, we talked about — I think Jack [Edwards] used the phrase ‘final 20 minutes of someone’s season.’ I wasn’t convinced of that. I thought that game would go to overtime. But when it did get 4-1, yeah, I certainly had my doubts. It was creeping in.
“No surprise, though, when you look back at that third period, that a guy like Milan Lucic would spearhead that charge. It’s in his DNA, it’s in his makeup. When he’s that determined, that committed and refuses to lose that attitude, who can handle him?”
When the Bruins started to exert their will late in the third period, the Maple Leafs showed their inexperience.
“Absolutely unchartered water for these guys, and that certainly worked in the Bruins’ favor,” Brickley said. “The minute you start to put a little pressure on a team that’s trying to protect a three-goal lead, and really, because they haven’t been in that closeout situation in the NHL playoffs – you can be in those positions during the regular season, with a three-goal lead or a two-goal lead in the third period, it’s a heck of a lot easier than it is in the postseason. Especially when you’re playing a team that supposedly, and in all probability, is a superior team to you.
“The minute [Nathan] Horton scores on that great rush up the ice by Lucic, the power move around the net and the nice pass out front, now that doubt seems to creep in. You start sneaking peeks at the clock, you start to watch the clock a little bit. You have the believability in your goaltender, even though he played really well in Game 5 and Game 6, can he handle the onslaught that you know is coming here in the final surge by Boston. And because they don’t have that experience on their resume, you knew that there was a lot of doubt, or at least some level of doubt for the Leafs.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Tuukka Rask was a better goalie than Henrik Lundqvist this year||05.08.13 at 2:15 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley talked with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about the Bruins’ top two lines, his thoughts on Tuukka Rask being passed over for a Vezina nomination, and what he’s seen from the Leafs’ top scoring threats so far.
Brickley said he was surprised and disappointed that Rask wasn’t nominated for the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie (Henrik Lundqvist, Antti Niemi and Sergei Bobrovsky are the nominees). He said he thought Lundqvist only edged Rask because the Bruins were a stronger defensive team than the Rangers, making Rask’s achievements look less impressive to some.
“Why don’t you compare defensive systems to defensive systems and not have that be part of it — just have the eyeball test and say, who were the top three goalies in the league this year?” Brickley said. “And I would not put Lundqvist ahead of Rask even if the numbers were that similar. Rask was a better goalie than Lundqvist this year.”
With Game 3 in Toronto under the Bruins’ belts and Game 4 coming up tonight, Brickley said he’s been impressed by the Leafs’ home atmosphere.
“It reminded me a lot of what Montreal can bring in the postseason, but this one had a different feel because they hadn’t had a playoff game in eight or nine years,” he said. “It was almost as if it had a similar atmosphere to the finals in 2011 in Vancouver. That’s how much they wanted something special to happen in Game 3. But the Bruins would not allow it to happen — they played a real smart game, something they didn’t do in Game 2.”
Part of the Bruins’ success has been the performance of David Krejci‘s line with Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton. Brickley said it’s no surprise to see Krejci play well in the postseason, but that his linemates’ improved play has helped him stand out as well.
“He was dealing with a couple of guys that were underperforming on his line, basically,” Brickley said. “Now he has Milan Lucic on top of his game, doing the things that he does best. Nathan Horton was still trying to find his way, he wasn’t making any plays, he was mishandling the puck, and now he’s doing what he does best, and that’s score goals. David Krejci’s history and resume suggested that he would be a really good player in the postseason and now he has these two weapons with him playing up to their capabilities.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins-Leafs ‘should have all the elements of a playoff series [B's] can win’||05.01.13 at 2:15 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ approach to the playoffs, some lineup decisions they’ve made, and how they match up with the Maple Leafs.
Brickley said he would have preferred to see the Bruins face the Islanders in the first round, but he thinks Toronto is a better matchup for them than Ottawa would have been.
“Toronto, they’re a little porous on defense,” Brickley said. “I’m still not sold on [James] Reimer being an elite guy. He’s got no experience, really, when it comes to NHL postseason play. So I think it’s a pretty good matchup. My preference would have been the Islanders, but be careful what you wish for. But it should have all the elements of a playoff series they can win, which is physical play, 5-on-5 hockey. If Toronto wants to initiate, the Bruins will oblige, but I’m looking for the Bruins to initiate.”
Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg are slated to play together as the Bruins’ top defensive pairing, although there had been some talk of breaking them up to balance the pairs out more evenly.
“I’m not surprised,” Brickley said of Chara and Seidenberg playing together. “I don’t know if it’s my preference. Toronto, one of their strengths this year is the fact that they have more than one scoring line. You put those guys together and you try to play them against Phil Kessel and his threesome, and they can still hurt you with [Joffrey] Lupul, [Nazem] Kadri. But that’s something they wanted to do. They were committed to it before the season ended. Now it’s up to the other four defensemen that are in the lineup to get the job done on the matchups.”
Brickley said that while Dougie Hamilton looks likely to sit in favor of Wade Redden in Game 1, Hamilton likely will crack the lineup at some point in the playoffs.
“I absolutely think we’ll see Dougie, whether it’s an adjustment or an injury or trying to get a little bit more on your power play,” Brickley said. “They want to get him some playoff experience, no doubt, but it’ll all be determined on how the Bruins play and how healthy they are on the back end.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘want to do something that’s meaningful in the healing process’||04.17.13 at 2:16 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ state of mind after the bombing at the Boston Marathon Monday and what he expects from their game vs. the Sabres on Wednesday night.
Brickley said he had been on the outskirts of the city after the Bruins’ morning skate and didn’t make it back to the marathon, although he had considered going.
“It was just such a scary feeling,” he said. “Just the emotions and where they range, from disbelief to outrage, and beyond that, compassion for the people who were down there.”
Based on his conversations with the Bruins in the last few days, Brickley said he thinks the players are ready to get back on the ice, and that their veteran leaders will be a stabilizing presence.
“I think they’re eager to play a hockey game,” Brickley said. “They all want to do something that’s meaningful in the healing process. What can you do as an athlete and as a team — I think that’s first and foremost on their minds. … With the connections they’ve made with the hockey community here and in all of New England, they have an opportunity to go out and do something as a team.
“[Zdeno] Chara, [Patrice] Bergeron, [Andrew] Ference, Shawn Thornton, those are the four guys that will take the lead as far as the emotional side of this game tonight, because they do, they totally get it,” he continued. “They have a grasp of what it means to be a Boston Bruin.
“If you talk to Ray Bourque, one of the greatest lessons he learned as an 18-, 19-, 20-year old player when he came to Boston was he learned what it was to be part of this community, from guys like [Wayne] Cashman, the guys that came before him. The [Terry] O’Reillys. That’s that thread of continuity that has existed in this franchise for such a long time and those four players will certainly lead the way and help the players, like a [Tyler] Seguin or a [Brad] Marchand, some of the younger guys, even a guy like [Jaromir] Jagr that’s 41 years old that just got here — he needs to be swallowed up in exactly what the Bruins want to do tonight.
“They have a sense of community, they have a sense of belonging and they have a connection with what it means to not only be a Bruin but to be a part of this sports environment here in Boston. I think this is the perfect group, because of what they are and what they’ve accomplished and what they want to do in the future, that this is an important game to everybody.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Defensive-zone turnovers ‘my No. 1 concern for this Bruins team’||04.10.13 at 1:03 pm ET|
Andy Brickley of NESN joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the expected arrival of Carl Soderberg, the issues of the Bruins defense, and whether any of the B’s potential playoff opponents could exploit those weaknesses.
The Bruins reportedly agreed on a contract with Soderberg on Tuesday at last, after acquiring his rights in a 2007 trade. Brickley said he’s never seen Soderberg play in person, but based on video and his stats (60 points in 54 games in the Swedish Elite League this year), Brickley expects him to contribute to the Bruins right away.
“As soon as he grasps the whole concept of playing North American-style hockey, his size and his skill set will be very good for the Bruins,” Brickley said. “They’ve been in search of adding that depth and balance, whether it’s to the top six forwards or to the bottom six forwards, and he seems to be right on that cusp.”
Soderberg played center in Sweden, but team president Cam Neely said Tuesday that he’ll likely start out in Boston as a winger.
“I understand the philosophy, especially in a system that is so demanding on that defensive centerman working with two defensemen down low,” Brickley said. “He does do that over in Europe, but the system is less demanding and there’s a lot more room and there’s more containment. … Because of the size of the ice, it’s more containment than physical one-on-one battles. Those will be the adjustments, and maybe he’ll be better off learning to use his size along the boards, breakouts, and concentrating a little bit more on what he does really well, which is being a little offensive and a little creative offensively.”
On the Bruins’ defensive mistakes: “It’s the turnovers. It’s not so much how they defend in their own zone — it’s when you turn the puck over, and good teams turn defense into offense, and now you’re in trouble. When you’re making those poor decisions and when the execution’s not there and you’re handing the other team the puck, even unforced turnovers, it’s so hard to defend because you’re thinking offense instead of puck possession. If they don’t get it straightened out, it’s going to be a serious problem going into the postseason. That is my No. 1 concern for this Bruins team.
“You have to minimize your turnovers and be that puck-possession type of teams, in high-percentage plays where you don’t have a play. That means lay that puck in an area where it’s not going to come right back at you. That is why their defense, and I don’t mean the group of six — I’m talking about their team defense — has put a lot of pressure on the goalies over the last 10 games or so. Until they clear that area up, you saw Carolina the other night — they were a two-man aggressive forecheck below the goal line and a green light for both defensemen to pinch down the boards, and the Bruins had a really hard time with it. They’ve got to get that area of their game cleaned up. Don’t worry so much about the offense. … It’s really how you come out of your own zone and how you manage the puck. The offense will be just fine.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Keith Yandle, Mark Streit, Dan Boyle possible Bruins targets as trade deadline approaches||04.03.13 at 12:34 pm ET|
NESN’s Andy Brickley spoke with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about what the Bruins could do in the last few hours before the 3 p.m. trade deadline and where he sees Jaromir Jagr fitting into the lineup.
Brickley said he thinks the Bruins would do best to add a defenseman before the deadline, and that the three names he’s seen thrown around most are Keith Yandle, Dan Boyle and Mark Streit.
“I’ve been a big Yandle fan for a long time because he’s a local kid, and you’ve always got to pull for them,” Brickley said. “Boyle’s a proven winner, won a Stanley Cup. He’s a right-handed shot who would fit nice on a power play right now with Dougie Hamilton, who’s really your only right-handed shot you can put on the back end if you’re playing with your four forwards. Boyle can run a pretty good power play. But I think Streit’s the guy that’s probably the most attainable when you talk about what you’re going to give up to get what you want. I think those are the three names that are probably pretty attractive to Boston right now.”
Brickley noted that the Bruins haven’t been afraid to deal high draft picks and top prospects in the past to get the players they want, especially during their 2011 Stanley Cup run.
“Maybe you have to deal a current asset that’s not a future first-round pick if the expectation is that conditional second turns into a first in that deal for Jagr,” Brickley said. “I do like the fact that the Bruins are willing to make those kinds of trades. When you take a look at … how they constructed that 2011 Cup team, they dealt first-rounders, whether they were future first-rounders or current first-rounders that were at some point in their development. In the [Mark] Recchi deal they dealt that kid [Matt] Lashoff. He was a first-rounder. The [Rich] Peverley deal, two first-rounders, [Mark] Stuart and [Blake] Wheeler. The [Nathan] Horton-[Gregory] Campbell deal, that was [Dennis] Wideman and a first-rounder, and even [Tomas] Kaberle, that was two first-rounders, [Joe] Colborne and a future first-rounder. So they’ve shown that they will do what they need to do when they target those certain players.”
Jagr seems likely to start out playing on David Krejci‘s wing, although Brickley noted that sometimes linemates don’t click even if the pairing seem logical.
“I think it’s only natural that they try to hook him up with David Krejci, but sometimes that doesn’t work out,” Brickley said. “I would never make the analogy that [Michael] Ryder is a Jaromir Jagr, but when Ryder was acquired by Boston, the expectation was that he was playing with a top-two centerman, whether it was [Patrice] Bergeron or Krejci or a healthy Marc Savard, for that matter. He probably did his most damage in the playoffs playing on the third line with [Chris] Kelly and Peverley. So you never know what kind of chemistry you’re going to get when you hook certain players up.”
On whether the Bruins need to add a forward or defenseman at the deadline: “I don’t know if it’s a necessity because I think this is still a pretty strong team if everyone’s healthy on their back end. I’d like to see them, and I think everyone would like to see the Bruins do that. The players in the room would certainly like to see another defenseman of NHL quality, somewhere in a top-five as far as their rating.
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘definitely need another defenseman’||03.28.13 at 1:01 pm ET|
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.”