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Make no mistake: Sidney Crosby is no Wayne Gretzky 06.08.13 at 9:43 pm ET
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The next time someone shouts that Sidney Crosby is today’s Wayne Gretzky, give a quick reminder that such an argument is a waste of breath.

Sidney Crosby might be one of the all-time greats, but his disappointing performance in the conference finals against the Bruins didn't do anything to help his image. (AP)

The 25-year-old Crosby, who just finished his eighth year in the NHL, is an immensely talented hockey player. He forms one half of the “Mega Powers” with teammate Evgeni Malkin for good reason, but the alleged modern-day Gretzky falls short in one area: While Crosby may be great, he is far from The Great One.

Crosby did not register one point in the Bruins’ four game sweep of the Penguins.

“If you look back, the chances were there,” Crosby said. “You try to fight, you try to get through to the net and get rebounds, and sometimes they come to you, sometimes they don’t. But obviously, you score two goals as a team in four games and virtually we go without any points. That doesn’t sit very well.”

There are definitely similarities between the two superstars. Both players hail from Canada and entered the league soon after their 18th birthdays. Crosby became the first teenager to lead the NHL in scoring since Gretzky achieved the feat in 1980. Just like Wayne, Sid the Kid has captured the Hart Trophy. Both players have hoisted the Stanley Cup, and there is no denying that both are wonderful ambassadors for the game of hockey. The similarities, at least up to this point in Crosby’s career, do not extend much further.

“When you’re the best player in the league and you’re the face of the NHL, you are always judged by a tougher standard,” said ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose. “Sidney’s judged by a very tough standard. If he doesn’t go out and get a goal every night, or get two or three assists every night, people say he’s in a slump.”

Slump or no slump, Crosby was unable to create any offense against the Bruins. Unlike Gretzky, The Kid could not find a way to lead his team. The Great One spent a decade of pure dominance in Edmonton, putting such a fork in the Islanders dynasty that it is rarely ever discussed. He won the Stanley Cup on four occasions with the Oilers before resuscitating professional hockey in Los Angeles. As incredible as Gretzky’s numbers were in the regular season, his work in the playoffs was simply on another level. Gretzky holds the record for most points in one playoff year with 47 in 1985, which was accomplished in only 19 games (the Bruins, by comparison, have already played 16 games this postseason). He dished out 31 assists during the 1988 playoffs, with 10 of those coming at the expense of the Bruins in the Stanley Cup finals. Gretzky was always judged by an incredibly high standard: the one that he set for himself.

Crosby is also judged by a higher standard, but he came up short this postseason. Crosby’s performance likely spells the end for Pens coach Dan Bylsma. Earlier this season, Bylsma became the fastest coach ever to win 200 games. He likely will soon be known as the former coach of the Penguins, joining John Tortorella as the second coach to be dismissed after an embarrassing playoff loss to Claude Julien’s big, bad Bruins.

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Read More: Barry Melrose, Esa Tikkanen, Sidney Crosby, Wayne Gretzky
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 Melrose on M&M: ‘Boston has to win this game to have a chance of winning this series’ 06.08.11 at 2:45 pm ET
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Barry Melrose

ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Stanley Cup finals and Wednesday night’s Game 4. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

When asked if he would be sitting with the Green Men at the game, Melrose joked: “I stay away from the Green Men. I can’t even believe they got into the country. I’m a little embarrassed about letting those guys in.”

He added: “We keep al-Qaida out, but we let these two guys in? What’s that all about?”

Melrose said that the finger-taunting in Game 3 has helped made this series an exciting one. However, it may come back to bite Boston in Game 4.

“I think [Alexandre] Burrows should’ve been suspended,” Melrose said. “I said that from Day 1. I think that if he would’ve been suspended that would’ve put away the finger crap. But I like the finger stuff. I thought it was funny. I had some fun with it. It’s interesting. Five years from now when we’re talking about this series, what are we going to talk about? We’re going to be talking about that stuff with the fingers and [Milan] Lucic and Burrows and stuff like that. I have no problem with that. It’s interesting. But, the NHL doesn’t want it.

“Obviously, the referees are going to crack down tonight. They’re going to be reffing very close to their vest. I think that favors Vancouver. Boston’s got to be aggressive. They’ve got to be physical. And the referees are going to be told to call everything, so we might see a lot of penalties tonight.”

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Read More: Alex Burrows, Barry Melrose, Boston Bruins, Mark Recchi
Barry Melrose on D&C: Thomas ‘only guy to talk about’ for Bruins 05.24.11 at 10:23 am ET
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Barry Melrose

ESPN NHL analyst Barry Melrose called in to the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning and predictably talked about the play of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, who allowed just one goal on 34 shots in Boston’s 3-1 win over Tampa Bay Monday night in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals and made perhaps the best save of the playoffs in the third period on a shot from Tampa Bay’s Steve Downie. (To hear the entire interview, click over to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.)

“Last night, he was the only guy to talk about,” Melrose said. “The Bruins basically took the first half of the game off and left Timmy Thomas out to fend for himself. The guy was great. He was fantastic. He made that game-saving save later in the game. But right off the start, he was very solid. You could tell he was on his game. He was very aggressive. He was outside the crease. And that’s how you tell if Timmy’s ready to play or not. If he’s making saves inside the paint, it’s going to be a long night. If he’s out challenging and outside the paint and very aggressive, it’s going to be a good night for Timmy Thomas. Last night, he was really on his game.”

Melrose was also willing to discuss the Lightning situation between the pipes. Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher gave Mike Smith the start in net instead of Dwayne Roloson, who had started the previous four games in the conference finals. Despite Tampa Bay’s loss on Monday, Melrose said he would stick with Smith going forward.

“I think Mike Smith. I think number one it’s hard to go back to Roloson,” Melrose said. “You have a 41-year-old goaltender. You pull him twice. You bench him and then say, ‘Hey man, we made a mistake. We want you back.’ So I think it’s Mike Smith’s series now, win or lose. And Mike Smith played well, those two goals he gave were basically unstoppable. The guy handles the puck well. That created a lot of problems for Boston. If Boston falls asleep, Mike Smith will make that long pas and create a breakaway at the other end. So that gives Boston another thing to worry about when they’re looking at their gameplan.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Barry Melrose, Dwayne Roloson, Mike Smith, Tim Thomas
Barry Melrose on M&M: Shawn Thornton deserves to be in lineup 05.18.11 at 4:12 pm ET
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Barry Melrose

ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday afternoon to talk about the Bruins’ 6-5 victory in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Melrose was quick to compliment the play of Bruins rookie center Tyler Seguin, who tallied four points (two goals, two assists) in Game 2.

“He certainly rode over the horizon at the right time on his white horse because Boston needed a spark and Seguin, in the last two games, has given Boston a spark,” Melrose said.

Seguin, who scored only 11 goals in the regular season, patiently waited for his opportunity and took full advantage of it in crunch time.

“He’s done everything right,” Melrose said. The kid’s kept his mouth shut. He’s never complained. He’s never gotten his agent involved. He’s never gone to the press. And when he got a chance to play in Game 1, bang, he was great. And then in Game 2, when they put him on the power play, bang, he scored.

“That’s what he has to do. He’s letting his actions speak for himself, and now Claude [Julien] has to play him. And the kid doesn’t hurt you defensively, he competes. Is he going to win the Selke award? No. But the guy who wins the Selke isn’t going to make the plays that Seguin is making either.”

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Read More: Barry Melrose, Claude Julien, Patrice Bergeron, Rick Middleton
Melrose on D&C: B’s ‘playing a great brand of hockey’ 05.07.10 at 9:05 am ET
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ESPN hockey analyst Barry Melrose joined Dennis & Callahan Friday morning to talk about the Bruins-Flyers series. To hear the interview, click on the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

“I think Boston, of the eight teams left, are playing the best playoff hockey,” Melrose said. “They’re giving up nothing. They’re playing a great brand of hockey right now.”

Melrose said the Bruins’ discipline in coach Claude Julien’s system has been great to watch. “I love the way Boston’s playing,” he said. “When they give up a shot, it’s from the side. Tuukka Rask is playing great. No outnumbered chances — no 3-on-2s, 2-on-1s. Boston’s playing the system to a ‘T.’ But again, are they going to be able to score? [David] Krejci’s out, [Marco] Sturm’s out, [Marc] Savard’s probably about 75-80 percent. It’s been amazing how they’ve been able to score with all these guys out of the lineup.”

Melrose said that if the Bruins take command in this game the Flyers will focus on the physical aspect, but don’t expect any brawls. “It won’t get ugly like it did in the ’70s, but it will get chippy,” Melrose said. “Philly’s a chippy team anyways. They always take a lot of penalties. They’ve got some guys on the ice that will go a little stir crazy. But it will be nothing like the old days. There won’t be any fights or anything like that. There will be maybe a couple of pushing and shoving matches, a few scrums. The dark days of hockey are over. It will never be like those days. But it will get chippy if the game gets out of hand.”

If the Bruins can close out the Flyers, Melrose suggested B’s fans should pull for the Canadiens to upset the Penguins in the other Eastern Conference semifinal. “I think if Boston plays Montreal they can beat them,” he said. “I don’t think Boston can beat Pittsburgh.”

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