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Andy Brickley on D&C: ‘I expect to get Tampa’s best game of this series’ 05.25.11 at 10:28 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN hockey analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning to offer his views on the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins are in Tampa for Game 6 Wednesday night, holding a 3-2 series lead. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“I think the Bruins have the edge,” Brickley said. “I guess there’s a piece of them that says, ‘Look, even if we don’t win this game, we still have Game 7. We play it on home ice. We know that we’ve beaten this team three times. We’re confident. We’re coming off a victory. We’ve shown that we’re a bigger, more physical, stronger team when we execute the way we’re supposed to play. We felt that we were a deeper more balanced team coming into this playoff series.’

“So, I think the advantage goes to Boston. They feel they have another level to their game that they haven’t reached yet. They really haven’t put together that proverbial, perfect 60 minutes. They feel that if they do that, there won’t be a Game 7.”

However, Brickley predicts there will be another game in this series Friday night. “I originally said it was going to be Boston in seven … and I’m going to stand by that,” he said. “I like Boston tonight, I think they’re going to play well. But I expect to get Tampa’s best game of this series.”

Lightning coach Guy Boucher will return Dwayne Roloson to goal after giving him a break in Game 5. Brickley said he agrees with Roloson starting. “I was more surprised that he actually played Mike Smith, to be honest with you,” Brickley said. “As well as Smith has played in this series, I felt that that trust between GM, coach and goaltender when they acquired Roloson was for this purpose, was to play the biggest games, the biggest moments. I thought last game was one, and certainly tonight is another.”

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Andy Brickley on D&C: Thursday’s game more helpful to Bruins than damaging to Canadiens 03.25.11 at 10:00 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN analyst Andy Brickley appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Bruins’ 7-0 thrashing of the Canadiens on Thursday night. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

The hosts suggested that the game was only a Shawn Thornton fight short of perfection.

“I’m not sure that Shawn would ever have a dancing partner on that team,” Brickley said. “I know that Ryan White did a pretty good job on Johnny Boychuk when we were up in Montreal, but outside of him and maybe Travis Moen, I don’t think there’s really anybody on that roster that’s in Shawn Thornton’s league. So that was not going to happen.”

Of course, there was an expectation of fisticuffs given Zdeno Chara’s hit on Max Pacioretty in the teams’ last meeting and Mark Recchi’s suggestion that Montreal embellished the severity of Pacioretty’s concussion.

“I was just curious to see if Montreal would alter their game plan at all, relative to the way they play, if somebody was going to try and get in Chara’s face early in the game,” Brickley said. “When I didn’t see that happen, I was pleased to see that it was just going to be a hockey game. I loved the way the Bruins responded and played their game.”

Recchi said after the game that he made his controversial comments in an attempt to take some pressure off Chara. Brickley said he thought that showed leadership on Recchi’s part and he thought there was some truth to what he said.

“That carries a lot of weight when it comes from a guy like Mark Recchi who’s been around a long time and is so well respected in the league,” he said. “But there is an element of truth to what he said, too. I think what he said, because it was inflammatory or whatever you want to describe it as, it takes the attention away from Zdeno Chara and he takes it on his shoulders, Mark Recchi. But I think what he said was true. I think a lot of players in that locker room and across the league feel that way.

“Because the Bruins have a hands-on experience with Marc Savard, with Patrice Bergeron, they know just from observation what a severe concussion is. And the evidence suggests that this is not severe when you see the reports that Pacioretty was up and around and feeling good. It just leaves questions, and I think that’s what Mark Recchi was saying. And I think he speaks the truth.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Andy Brickley, Mark Recchi, Max Pacioretty, Zdeno Chara
Brickley on D&C: B’s need to be ‘close to perfect’ 05.13.10 at 12:40 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley was on the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins and their Stanley Cup playoff series with the Flyers that will go the full seven games after Philadelphia captured Game 6 by a 2-1 score Wednesday night. He said that the Bruins have a tall task ahead of them if they are to keep the Flyers from becoming just the fourth team in North American professional sports history to win a seven-game series after losing the first three games.

“With that kind of talent up front and the four big guys that can really skate with the puck on the back end, this is a pretty good Flyers team,” he said. “The Bruins, they have to get pucks to the net. They have to get bodies to the net. They have to be physical. Hence, their only chance, and in all probability, if they’re going to win Game 7, it’s going to have to be 1-0, 2-1, that kind of score.”

A transcript follows. You can listen to the interview by visiting the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

You’ve had about 10 hours to digest what’s happening to the Bruins. What are we watching here? Are we watching a team choking away a series or are we watching a team that just doesn’t have enough offensive bullets in the gun?

I think it’s the latter. I hate to think that it’s about choking. I think they did not play well obviously in Game 5, so coming into last night’s game, you wanted to make sure that this was a team that played like they wanted the series to end. They wanted to play with that desperation, that urgency, all the catchphrases that you hear, and where was their compete level and all that stuff. I think they played pretty hard, and I thought they played very smart and I think the fact that they just can’t score goals right now is the reason that the Flyers have been able to come back.

It’s not the only reason. Philadelphia getting [Simon] Gagne back has really created a nice three-line formation for them where they’re strong down the middle with [Mike] Richards, [Danny] Briere and [Claude] Giroux. If they can roll three lines, that means they’re going to get the edge in matchups because the Bruins, they try to play their entire roster, but with that kind of talent up front and the four big guys that can really skate with the puck on the back end, this is a pretty good Flyers team. The Bruins, they have to get pucks to the net. They have to get bodies to the net. They have to be physical. Hence, their only chance, and in all probability, if they’re going to win Game 7, it’s going to have to be 1-0, 2-1, that kind of score.

You’ve seen every minute of these six games, Andy. On the whole, who’s better?

I think it’s an even match, to be honest with you. I really do. Take a look at all the games. I mean, Philadelphia won their one game 4-0. Boston won their other game 4-1. Other than that, the other games could have gone either way. Plain and simple. Read the rest of this entry »

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Brickley on D&C: ‘Believe in your system’ 04.27.10 at 2:17 pm ET
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Andy Brickley, who handles analysis for Bruins games on NESN, appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the B’s first-round playoff victory over the Sabres.

Just as an overview, what did the Bruins learn about themselves in this first-round win? What did we learn about the Bruins?

That you can win without some of your top players if you have a system and you believe in your system and you get great goaltending, and guys step up in crunch time, and I think that’s the greatest lesson that they learned. And they might have learned that down the stretch, when you think about what Boston did over the last 12 games. There were certainly some low points during the regular season — 10-game winless streak, their .500 record at home, especially with such high expectations coming into the year. The whole Pittsburgh-[Matt] Cooke-[Marc] Savard incident, and the lack of response not only in the game when it happened, but then the home game with just the one [Shawn] Thornton fight.

But what they were able to do to come together as a group over the last 12 games, and take a look at the teams that they beat during that stretch — they had the Rangers and the Thrashers, right behind them, one point back, they had to hold their position, they were able to win those games. They beat divisional leaders like Buffalo, like New Jersey, like Washington, all the while without [Dennis] Seidenberg, without [Mark] Stuart, without [Andrew] Ference, no Marc Savard, [Marco] Sturm, [Blake] Wheeler and [Michael] Ryder not scoring goals — how did they win? They had to be getting good coaching, and they had to have a good system and they had to have quality goaltending in order to amass enough points to climb to sixth, and that carried through, I think, through the first round.

Are you encouraged by them winning despite not scoring the first goal very often. Or are you discouraged by them not hitting the ice hard?

Somewhere in between. Going into last night, it had to be one of the keys to the game that they got the lead in game six, at home, took advantage of the crowd. You’re playing with fire obviously if you get behind a team that has Ryan Miller in goal. Buffalo is so aggressive on their forecheck, their defensive pinch, they love playing with the lead. Boston needed to establish themselves in the first period. They had to get the lead, they had to cash in on one or two of their early chances in the hockey game. I think that gave them the best chance, first of all psychologically to feel good about their game, and to know that they didn’t have to come from behind, and there was a little less pressure. And if you watch the game, after they scored that goal on the power-play by [David] Krecji in the first period, it almost looked like they relaxed, because Buffalo was all over them the next three or four shifts, and they had to realize, “Whoa, we’re back in a hockey game here. We’re glad to score first, but we had to get back to our game plan.”

What is the point of the regular season? New Jersey out, Buffalo out, why do they play the 80 games in the regular season?

Well, this is the league. This is a business. It’s all about the money. If you’re ever looking for answers, always follow the money trail. Ideally though, in my opinion, I wouldn’t mind a little contraction in this league, if you really want to talk about dollars and cents. A few less teams a few less games, a few less players, might make for a better product.

Maybe one less round in the playoffs?

I kind of like it. 16 out of 30 teams getting in — I kind of like those numbers. I know there are some owners pushing for more teams to get into the postseason, but I think that would make it more diluted.

What if Washington loses, will Bettman take hostages at that point without [Alex] Ovechkin in the postseason?

Obviously they would love for that to happen, and I would like to see that happen as well. There’s no way I could ever, in any situation I guess, maybe in a very limited field, that I could root for the Montreal Canadiens. But I would like to see Washington move on, I like to see the best players in the game in the playoffs, and they’re having some problems, obviously, with the Canadiens. And anything can happen in a Game 7 — Washington is very nervous right now. They’re in a similar situation to Boston in the sense that they need to get the lead on home ice in Game 7 or they’re in trouble. Both teams are such a contrast in style. Because you had questions about Washington and their goaltending situation. They’ve already played both guys. I couldn’t believe Montreal went to [Carey] Price in this series, because [Jaroslav] Halak is clearly the better goaltender, and they finally realized that, and he is a dangerous guy right now as far as stopping the Caps.

Which would you prefer, the Flyers or the Penguins in the next round, athletically vs. artistically?

Well, I think if they drew the Flyers, obviously they’d get home ice, I don’t know if that’s good or bad for Boston, I think I’d prefer to see them start on the road to be honest with you, despite how great the fans have been. I like going on the road, I like trying to get that split away from the Garden. But Philly, it’s a contrast of styles, the Flyers are more powerful, they’re more physical, I think Boston was the more physical team than Buffalo certainly in the games that they won, so maybe that’s a real interesting matchup. I love the fact that Philly has a huge question in goal, although I thought the Flyers would handle New Jersey because Jersey doesn’t score enough. Jersey did not impress me when I saw them this year, so the Flyers’ win over New Jersey did not surprise me at all. But I would like to see Pittsburgh, just from a personal, selfish standpoint — I like watching great players, [Sidney] Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin, they’re great down the middle, [Jordan] Staal as your third-line center is impressive, [Sergei] Gonchar’s good at the back end.

Plus, you’d like to play Oakmont in your off days.

Well, I did get a number of texts last night after the 4-2 win from down in Pittsburgh. I’d like to go to Pittsburgh, I’d like to see them, I’d like to see the Bruins knock off the Penguins.

Will the Bruins play up that revenge theme? What about when Savard takes the ice?

An iso-cam on Cooke wouldn’t be a bad thing. No, I think that would be part of the equation, I don’t think it would be a great percentage of what would go on between those two teams, but certainly a little bit of a revenge factor, up that emotional wheel early in the series would not be a bad thing.

Michael Ryder has to be thinking that, regretting not doing anything.

It would be great if he had the opportunity, certainly, but I think they’ve moved beyond that, I think. All that negativity that was well deserved for the Bruins really helped galvanize this team a little bit in those 12 teams we talked about early in the conversation. For Michael Ryder to get an opportunity to do something at the right time, well-placed, and done within the rules enough that you’re not hurting your team in the long run, as far as like I said, that’s not a bad situation to have.

My guess is that Claude Julien will use Savard in a sort of picking-your-spots way. Is there an advantage to that? As an emotional lift?

I think so, and I think that would be the game plan, I think, depending on how many days they have to practice, because at this time of year you don’t practice a whole lot, and when you’re an injured guy, you need practice, and you need to as best you can simulate game situations. So for Savard, he needs to practice at high pace with the potential of body contact. He needs to simulate that in practice. Can you do that in the playoffs? Very difficult to do. And they need to gauge where he is as far as conditioning, timing, his ability to handle the pace of the playoffs and how physical it can be.

All that being said, I like the way you think. I think that’s the way they tried to use Thomas Vanek last night, and I think you really have to concentrate and watch and see how Savard is reacting, how he’s handling it. Is he able to take the body contact, spin off, does he anticipate where the contact is coming from, is he effective in his ability to move the puck and make plays which is his strength. And maybe you ease him into that situation, maybe you start him on the fourth line, maybe you work him in if maybe there’s an offensive-zone faceoff, and I think that’s the way you have to coach Marc Savard, unless he just absolutely wows you in practice, and you say, “This kid’s back.”

I can’t imagine another sport where it would be harder than being a center in hockey, to come back after sitting out for this long.

Yeah, if he wasn’t such a high-end elite player, I would have more concerns about those type of things. But he’s just so gifted, he’s one of those guys that he can miss 9-10 games in a row, come back, and it looks like he hasn’t missed a day as far as his puck-handling skills. That being said, it’s just a different animal in the postseason, the pace of the game, I can’t emphasize it enough, and how physical it can be, obviously limits your time and space and your ability to read the play. But he’s just such an elite player, and a guy that knows exactly what he wants to do before he gets the puck and what his options are, and the subtleties of his game, to change the angle of the pass with the slightest of moves, whether it’s his hands or the position of the puck on the blade of his stick, he’s that good, so my concerns are somewhat lessened because of Marc Savard’s talents.

Did the two giveaways last night, bad ones, that led to Buffalo goals. Does that worry you going forward?

They worried me last night, I’ll tell you that. The Bruins had control of the hockey game, and Dennis Wideman, and I know he’s taken a lot of criticism this year, and it has been warranted, but there are times where I feel like sitting down with people and saying, “Let’s watch an entire game here in the last month of the season where Dennis Wideman does eight real good things to two bad things.” It’s the two bad things that jump off the screen at you, or if you’re at the rink screams “What a mistake,” but the other eight things kind of get glossed over.

That being said, all of a sudden Dennis wants to start passing pucks through people when he doesn’t have to. He has a simple and high-percentage play, but he has so much confidence in his own ability to make those type of plays, but they’re just poor decisions. So that turnover, the Michael Ryder turnover, he was well positioned, down low in his own zone, just mishandled the puck, laid it out front for [Nathan] Gerbe to score. The good news is that those are fixable mistakes.

I was concerned last night because I wanted the series to end, nobody wanted to go back to Buffalo for a Game 7, they had the lead, they were playing the way they should, and to have gift-wrapped, unforced turnovers, those generally kill you. So, yeah, you need your goalie to bail you out on a number of occasions, and [Tuukka] Rask certainly did that. And it’s amazing how good Tuukka Rask is, for such a young goaltender, because he’s unflappable, and he’s that athletic and that good, you can afford, at times, to make mistakes like that.

When you watch regular-season hockey, you see how difficult it is, and then you watch playoff hockey, and it gets ratcheted up a notch. Do hockey players point at baseball players who complain about a stiff neck, and laugh their ass off.

Maybe, after a round of golf late in the day, and you’ve been sitting around at the 19th hole for a while, you might share a chuckle or two about some situations like that. But I think hockey players in general have a high regard for all professional athletes and whatever obstacles they have to fight through, it’s such a different animal, that long season, 162 games, as far as baseball is concerned. But sure, they know — they’re humbled, but they know how difficult it is to play playoff hockey, and the injuries, and the discomfort that you have to play through in order to be successful. And despite that, that respect that they have to their fellow athletes, they know what it takes to play hockey, and they know what they have to deal with. And  it’s what you signed up for, and you agreed to it, and it’s what you want to do, and you wouldn’t trade it for anything.

But how many hockey players did you know, when you played, that complained and scratched out because of a stiff neck?

That would be zero.

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Brickley on D&C: Bruins will respond to Cooke 03.18.10 at 8:31 am ET
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Andy Brickley, NESN analyst for Bruins games, checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show to talk about Thursday’s night’s game between the B’s and the Penguins. (For the audio, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.)

Penguins forward Matt Cooke has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Boston. (AP)

Penguins forward Matt Cooke has become Public Enemy No. 1 in Boston. (AP)

Brickley said he has no doubt the Bruins will seek revenge on Penguin Matt Cooke for his hit on B’s center Marc Savard. “No question [the Bruins] need the points, given the situation that they’re in in the Eastern Conference, but that will be secondary tonight,” Brickley said. “This is an opportunity for the Bruins to respond, something they didn’t do at the time when Savard was hit by Matt Cooke, and they will take every opportunity to make sure their character is no longer in question.”

Brickley said he expects both teams will be eager for the confrontation to take place as soon as possible. “If I was Danny Bylsma, the coach of the Pittsburgh Penguins, I would make sure Matt Cooke starts tonight. Don’t give it a chance to continue to percolate. Wait for his first shift and allow the crowd and everybody else to get behind this. And I would expect Boston to line up guys like [Zdeno] Chara and [Milan] Lucic and [Mark] Stuart, and make sure it’s a very long night for Matt Cooke.

“You almost feel like don’t suspend this guy, make him have to play the full game, he can’t take any shifts off, he has to play the full 60 minutes. That might be the best retribution.”

Brickley said the Bruins need to go right up to Cooke and put him on the spot. “You call him out,” Brickley said. “It’s very plain and simple. You want to make it the longest night you can possibly make it for him.”

Asked about the possibility of Cooke refusing to engage a Bruins challenger, Brickley said: “That would not be the best course of action for Matt Cooke, and I don’t expect that to happen. I don’t think that will be allowed to happen. This is a guy that plays on the edge, he’s a repeat offender. If you took a look at the list of players that he’s fought in his career, it’s not a who’s who of the tough guys in the NHL, so I guess there’s that possibility, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Brickley said he still is unable to understand the reasoning behing the league’s decision not to suspend Cooke. “They got it wrong,” Brickley said. “Plain and simple. Colin Campbell got this wrong. This was a blindside hit to a defenseless player in a position where he had no idea the hit was coming. It was predatory in nature, he targeted the head, and he’s a repeat offender. How can you not suspend this guy? I don’t understand the logic behind it. They had an opportunity to make the right call, the make a difference. … They dropped the ball.”

Added Brickley: “There’s no logic and there’s no reasoning sufficient for me to be able understand the rules that come down from the office in New York. Colin Campbell is going to be in attendance tonight. The two teams will be addressed. Warnings will be put out. They created this culture — they created it, and now they want to manage it.”

As for the Bruins’ lack of a reaction in the game when the hit took place, Brickley said: “Nobody really got a real good look at it outside of Michael Ryder, so I will give them the benefit of the doubt. … Sometimes you just don’t see it when you’re out on the ice.”

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