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Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘I really don’t see a whole lot of challenge from anyone else in the conference’ 12.28.11 at 12:10 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley talked with Dennis & Callahan guest hosts Tom Caron and Chris Mannix on Wednesday morning to discuss the Bruins’ busy second-half schedule, which teams provide the biggest challenge to the B’s in the Eastern Conference, and NHL First Star of the Week Brad Marchand.

Last week, Marchand scored a goal in the 3-2 victory over the Canadiens and capped off the week with a hat trick and two assists in the Bruins’ 8-0 dismantling of the Panthers.

“I think we should be a little surprised to the degree that he’s playing as well as he’s playing,” Brickley said. “I think any good team and any good young player that fits into a real good hockey club that’s deep and balanced like Boston, you expect those young players to get better from their rookie seasons and you’ve certainly seen that from both [Tyler] Seguin and Marchand. To think that he would be this good this early — this productive and this reliable — is a little bit of a surprise. But keep in mind both of those young players bring a nice element of speed along with their skill set to the Bruins.”

Brickley has been just as impressed by the play of Patrice Bergeron, who is on pace to have his most productive season and has lifted Marchand and Seguin.

“They play with a guy in the middle like Bergeron and that’s a huge benefit to them,” Brickley said. “It allows them to play to their strengths, have a little bit more freedom offensively because Bergeron will distribute the puck, he’ll take care of all three zones, and he’ll win his puck battles, and he’s so reliable and dependable yet he’s got an offensive flair himself. So to have that kind of centerman in the middle — that kind of experience, that kind of talent — is a huge benefit for those two guys.”

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Andy Brickley on D&C: Bruins ‘the best team in the NHL’ 12.21.11 at 12:14 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning with guest hosts Dale Arnold and Bob Ryan for his weekly discussion the Bruins.

The Bruins are the Eastern Conference leaders after winning 19 of their last 22 game. While they only hold a one point edge on the Flyers, the Bruins man handled the Flyers in a 6-0 win last Saturday, taking complete control over the East. The Bruins are in the middle of a five-day break right before the holiday season, giving Brickley and guest D&C hosts Bob Ryan and Dale, plenty to talk about before the Bruins get back in action against the Panthers on Friday. Brickley told the hosts that he thought the Bruins are currently playing better than any other Eastern Conference team.

“They certainly are right now, I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Brickley said. “You can point to all the statistics and numbers you want, but just give it the eyeball test and watch this team play. I guess the simplest way to look at it is as a collection of six defensemen, four lines, two goaltenders, the matchups that the Bruins get because of that depth and balance makes them the better team on most nights. And when you have that believability because you’re Stanley Cup champions — which was really the only element missing, I thought, from a pretty confident team over the last couple of years despite some serious playoff dramatic defeats — that once they became champions, that learning to win was embedded in them. And that’s how they play now. And if you combine those elements, yeah, they are the best team in the NHL, as we speak.”

Brickley chalked up the Bruins’ early season struggles as purely an emotional battle that veterans hadn’t dealt with before.

“They couldn’t get the emotional needle to where it needed to be,” Brickley said. “I think people were well aware of that within the organization, players included, that that was going to be the toughest task. I think you saw the younger players not have a problem with it as much as the older players, the established players, the guys that maybe had not won a Stanley Cup and now were finally champions. To understand where they needed to be emotionally game in and game out and to have to do it just a couple of months after doing it to the middle of June and try to do it in October was more difficult than anybody realized, myself included.

“I didn’t expect them to start 3-7. I thought at worst-case scenario maybe a .500 team through the first four or five weeks of the season, which would have been fine with me. But I got a little concerned at 3-7. When I heard players like Tim Thomas and Milan Lucic say, ‘You know, we’re not that far off,’ you look at the game tape and you break it down and you say maybe they’re right, what’s missing? And it was that emotion, that physical engagement that comes with the emotion of being involved in a game was the only thing that was lacking. And they found it.”

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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: 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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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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Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘I don’t like the way [Canucks] play the game’ 06.13.11 at 9:42 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Monday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Game 6. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Brickley said that despite Vancouver’s home-ice domination during the Stanley Cup finals, the Canucks certainly aren’t going to sit back Monday night and wait to play Game 7 back home.

“They want to end this thing tonight, because anything can happen in Game 7,” Brickley said. “And you don’t know how you are going to come out of Game 6 in terms of your health.”

The Bruins, meanwhile, must counter with the determination to prevent the Canucks from celebrating on their ice.

“Not in our building, not in our house, not at the Garden,” Brickley said. “They do not win a Stanley Cup on here on our ice in front of our fans.”

Brickley said that Roberto Luongo’s trash-talking Tim Thomas was a case of “a guy that’s a little bit immature when it comes to dealing with the media.”

“I think there’s a hint of jealousy in what he’s saying about Tim Thomas,” Brickley said.

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Andy Brickley on D&C: Playoffs ‘time to make strong statements’ about hits to head 06.07.11 at 9:25 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins big 8-1 win over the Canucks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals the night before. The former Boston forward said he enjoyed what he saw Monday night.

“Thoroughly,” he said. “Absolutely loved just about everything about it except for the [Nathan Horton] hit and the result and maybe a little bit of stooping to the Canucks’ level when they started getting into the taunting with the fingers. Other than those two issues, I really enjoyed the game.”

The biggest reason why Brickley thought that the Bruins were able to take Game 3 was that that they were able to control their emotions and turn that energy into putting pucks in the back of the net, especially following the late losses earlier in the series as well as the early loss of Horton on a hit by Aaron Rome in Game 3.

“I liked the Bruins emotional level coming into the game because that was actually my biggest concern coming off the two dramatic losses in the fashion that they lost in Vancouver. Not a lot of turn-around time to recover emotionally from that overtime loss in Game 2. When you couple that with the late loss in regulation of Game 1, I had some concerns in that area. I think the coaching staff did a real good job, the players themselves, the leadership in the room, got themselves ready to play. Not a great first period but they were ready to play. They were going to bring their skating game and then when one of their top players and a guy that really lean on to make big plays and score big goals goes down early enough in the game, it just took the emotional zeale to another level. But they were able to keep enough disicipline until that game got out of hand.” Read the rest of this entry »

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