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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
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Andy Brickley

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.”

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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
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Andy Brickley

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 [TylerSeguin or a [BradMarchand, 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.”

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Andy Brickley on M&M: Defensive-zone turnovers ‘my No. 1 concern for this Bruins team’ 04.10.13 at 1:03 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

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.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Bruins coverage, go to weei.com/bruins.

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.”

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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
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Andy Brickley

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 [TomasKaberle, 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 [PatriceBergeron 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.”

Following are more highlights from the conversation. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page. For more Bruins coverage, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

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.

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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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Andy Brickley: Bruins ‘should have close-out ability,’ ‘haven’t shown it consistently enough’ 03.20.13 at 12:21 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN’s Andy Brickley spoke with Mut & Merloni Wednesday about why the Bruins have struggled to maintain leads, what general manager Peter Chiarelli might do before the trade deadline, and how the lineup could be shuffled after some recent injuries.

On Tuesday, the Bruins gave up three third-period goals and lost 3-1 to the Jets. Brickley said the way the B’s have played with leads, especially late in games, has been problematic.

“With one-goal leads, even sometimes two-goal leads — for some reason, their inability to make plays when it’s coming out of their own zone, at center ice, when they do have possession, putting pucks into areas in the offensive zone, it requires discipline,” Brickley said. “You don’t want to have to play that way, because you have the lead and you think you can extend the lead by making plays, when the real play is to put pucks in areas to force the other team to have to go and then have to come 200 feet.

“Games are going that way this year because of the 48-game schedule. Things are different this year. Those are not excuses for this Bruins team, because they’re better than they’re showing. They should have close-out ability and they haven’t shown it consistently enough. That said, they’re still in pretty darn good shape.”

There’s been talk of the Bruins pursuing a stay-at-home defenseman to help support Dougie Hamilton before the April 3 trade deadline. However, Brickley said they may make a play for an offense-oriented defenseman instead, despite the potential cost of such a trade.

“As much as we like Dougie Hamilton and what he’s brought to this team, you still see his minutes reduced late in the game, when they’re playing good competition, playoff teams, and goals are hard to come by,” Brickley said. “He’s not the player that you can look at and say, April, May and June, he’s going to be real good for us. That would be a total guess. So maybe you do have to add a puck-moving defenseman, and that’s probably where the premium is at, but there are a lot of puck-moving defensemen … that would be available.”

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Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘It’s the officiating itself’ causing more players to embellish 03.06.13 at 1:45 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN’s Andy Brickley talked with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday about the Bruins’ overtime loss to the Capitals on Tuesday and about B’s coach Claude Julien‘s implication that the Canadiens dive more than most teams.

“From where Jack [Edwards] and I sit, it was more about what the Bruins failed to do,” Brickley said of the Capitals’ four-goal comeback Tuesday. “A 3-0 lead after one period, a game that you could certainly put away — the Bruins have the capability, it should be in their DNA by now. … Now it comes on the heels of giving a game away to Montreal in the third period, and over the last two periods plus overtime, to give that game away against Washington. It’s disturbing, it’s frustrating. And it shouldn’t happen in a season when points are at a premium, when it gets amplified.”

Brickley said that while it hasn’t hurt them much to this point, Tuesday wasn’t a big departure from the way the Bruins have been playing all year.

“When you really look at this team, they don’t do anything the easy way,” he said. “They don’t blow teams out, and they had an opportunity to do that last night, and even with the things that hurt them — mismanagement of the puck, turnovers, weak third periods of late, not extending leads even greater than three goals. … That offense needs to find some other gear. You’ve got to expect some shakeup on lines 2, 3 and 4.”

In response to a video that compiles various instances of the Bruins embellishing, Brickley noted that many of the plays in the video are against Montreal and Vancouver, and said the Bruins may have been diving in those situations to stay on an even playing field with teams that do it frequently. He added that he thinks players are embellishing more because officials aren’t calling penalties when they should.

“The problem isn’t so much about the embellishment,” he said. “It’s the officiating itself. If the officiating was of a higher quality, then embellishment becomes less of a part of your strategy as a team to get power plays.”

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