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