|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|
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.”
|Brad Marchand: Sensational and significant||12.20.11 at 10:32 am ET|
There are highlight reel goals. And, there are game-winning goals.
On rare occasions, you get both in one. Monday night, Brad Marchand gave Bruins fans a 2-for-1 holiday special with his deke-to-backhander that beat Montreal’s Carey Price with just over five minutes remaining to put the Bruins up, 3-1. It turned out to be the difference when Erik Cole scored with 1:14 left as the Bruins hung on for a 3-2 win.
“Once I got my head up, he was already in the motion of poke checking, and I just pulled it around him, and luckily it went in,” Marchand said.
Marchand was quick to thank linemate Tyler Seguin for his vision to see Marchand breaking down the slot for the goal.
“Well, once Segs got it, I saw [the defenseman] decided to go to him, and I was all alone, so I was hoping he’d get it through and he made the play to get it done,” Marchand said.
All of this for a team know for scoring “dirty work” goals, fighting along the boards and finding a way to finish. On this night, the finish by Marchand was spectacular.
“I think sometimes people underestimate our team for the amount of skill we have, but, you know, we have a lot of guys who make great plays, and every now and then we get a nice goal,” Marchand said. Read the rest of this entry »
|Peter Chiarelli: ‘If I could find another Milan Lucic, I’d be very pleased’||12.19.11 at 8:49 pm ET|
Bruins fans can rest easy.
The team’s general manager made it clear Monday night he’s not about to change the way he builds his roster based on a one-game suspension of one of his higher profile players.
Peter Chiarelli said Monday he understands what Brendan Shanahan was doing by handing out a one-game suspension for Milan Lucic for the hit-from-behind on Zac Rinaldo on Saturday in Philadelphia. There’s a history there with Lucic and the Bruins have skated from possible suspensions on transgressions from Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid in the last two weeks.
But not this time.
Still, Chiarelli wants to be clear. The Bruins will still be big and bad.
“It’s one game, for one thing, so I’m not going to react to that,” Chiarelli said minutes before the game Lucic missed with the Canadiens. “We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were going to be a little more heavily scrutinized. We might have even played a heavier game in the playoffs, and, again, people were clamoring that we got away with stuff, and maybe we did, maybe we didn’t. But that’s the way we built the team, and I’m going to continue to build it that way.
“I mean, hey, if I could find another Milan Lucic, I’d be very pleased. I think everyone in the league would want a player like that. No, we won’t stray from how we built it, and we’ll continue to put the pieces in that have some character and have some toughness.
Chiarelli said he spoke with the top judge in the NHL operations office on Monday, getting the full explanation of the discipline.
“I talked to Brendan Shanahan today following his sanction on Milan, the one-game suspension, and what was explained to me was that when there have been incidents before with a player, they look at the whole body of work,” Chiarelli said. “I don’t know if it’s as strong as being a repeat offender, but he’s done stuff in the past, according to hockey ops, that go to his character reference when they’re looking at putting up punishment. Brendan didn’t say this, but if it was his first incident, I would think maybe he wouldn’t have been suspended. Brendan didn’t say that, but that’s my take on the whole thing.
“If you go back and see what Milan has done, to me, it’s pretty unremarkable, but they obviously look at everything.”
But Chiarelli, to his credit, did itemize the list of misdeeds that led up to Monday’s suspension.
“I think he got a suspension against [Maxim] Lapierre, he got the fine against Freddy Meyer, he got a warning on [Ryan] Miller, and this,” Chiarelli said. “I might have been missing one, but he didn’t get any other warnings. You wouldn’t know of warnings because, short of a fine, they don’t publicize that. I agree with the global objective of addressing player safety, and if the body of work means that now he’s in that, again, not ‘repeat offender,’ but the ‘repeat concerns,’ I guess, however you want to characterize it, then if that’s what it is, that’s what it is. Obviously I support the league’s attempt at addressing player safety.
“And I think Milan might have explained to you, and he actually, if you look at it closely, I feel that he has, he did change his game, so to speak, on that check. I thought he stopped skating. If you looked at his left arm going in, I thought he tried to lever him so that he could hit him in the crest, and I don’t think he hit him as hard as he normally does. Milan’s a guy who’s led our team in hits, I think, since he’s been here, and he’s very rarely been penalized with boarding, hit from behind ‘ the roughing stuff. He’s a clean player, and that’s what the law is now, so we’ll abide by it.”
|Tuukka Rask: ‘Just try to save every puck’||12.14.11 at 9:58 am ET|
There were several chances for Tuukka Rask to blink in the third period Tuesday and lose his first shutout of the season.
But the Bruins goalie, on the heels of replacing Tim Thomas on Saturday in Columbus, didn’t flinch. He turned away all 20 shots in the third period, and all 41 for the game as the Bruins beat the Kings, 3-0.
“I just tried to save every puck,” Rask said of his ninth career shutout. “You don’t want to think about shutouts because you might chase yourself but ‘ couple tough chances in the end but that was it.
“You just try to protect your lead and we hopefully get that third goal. They came out hard so got some pretty good chances but were able to keep them off the scoreboard and then Marchy [Brad Marchand] got a nice goal there to extend the lead so that was good to see.”
“[Brown] pretty much didn’t have anything else and just tried to shoot it upstairs, don’t know if he actually shot it low or something but it was some kind of misplay there and Johnny was just taking back door and he left the guy there for me and ‘ hit something,” Rask said.
Rask said he wasn’t looking at the shots accumulating on the scoreboard during the final 20 minutes.
“I don’t think you have time to watch the shot clock or anything but you definitely feel the momentum changing at times and today they had a lot of chances in the third,” he said. “And maybe we weren’t at our sharpest but they came at us pretty hard too.
So, on a night the Bruins didn’t have captain Zdeno Chara for the first time this season, the Bruins needed Rask to be the true last line of defense.
“Probably some part of that is Z missing but I think we also need to tighten up,” Rask said. “We weren’t that bad we didn’t give too many second chances and lots of shots came from the outside and stuff. But it’s just one of those games where you get lots of shots against and I don’t think it’s because of [Chara] missing.
“You need some luck to have some shutouts too. They had a couple of posts today. And I think it’s definitely tougher to have a shutout than to play one period.”
Now, Claude Julien has a decision to make. Will he ride the hot hand tonight in Ottawa with Rask or will he go back to his No. 1 in Tim Thomas? No matter the answer, Rask showed Tuesday that the Bruins now have two dependable netminders as they hit the road to take on the Senators and Flyers this week.
“He was good tonight, arguably our best player tonight,” Julien said. “He stood tall and they threw a lot of shots at him, certainly not easy shots to stop. There was a lot of traffic in front of the net’screens. He had the quick feet going, made the saves on close-range and was probably our best player. So he got better as the game went on and I thought he did a good job the other night coming in and kind of settling himself in in the third period and then he just carried that into tonight.”
|Right or wrong, Shawn Thornton sticks up for his teammate Daniel Paille||12.09.11 at 1:04 am ET|
Yet in another example of how NHL players are different than any other sport, Shawn Thornton stood up and admitted Thursday – after battling with Krys Barch of the Florida Panthers – that he was just fighting to stick up for his teammate and nothing else.
Midway through the first period, with the Bruins and Daniel Paille on the puck in their own defensive zone, Barch came over to the far corner boards to the left of Tim Thomas and drilled Paille up against the wall.
The force of the two heads colliding was so great that both went to the ice in a daze. When Barch got up, there waiting was Thornton to fight the Panthers forward, who had the nerve to lay what Claude Julien said was a “clean hit” on Paille. Truth be told, Barch did get two minutes for elbowing at the time but replays shows it was a shoulder hit and nothing more.
“I didn’t see it,” Thornton admitted. “I really didn’t, I still haven’t seen it. I just saw Paisey [Paille] laying there and obviously the type of team we are, I’m going to air on the side of sticking up for him. I mean, if it was a clean hit, then it was a clean hit but if it wasn’t, I’m glad we got in there. I mean for, especially guys like me and Soupy [Gregory Campbell] aren’t going to- we’re definitely going to step up if one of our teammates is laying there.
Campbell, indeed, was also ready to fight for Paille, having already dropped his gloves when Paille was drilled by Barch.
“Yeah, that’s my job- it’s both our jobs, I guess,” Thornton said. “Soupy [Gregory Caampbell] is a very, very character guy that, I mean, I’m very fortunate to play with a guy like that but I was trying to get over there at the same time and I think, I mean me and Mr. Barch [Krystofer Barch] have a history anyway so it’s, I take that upon myself, but I commend Soupy for getting in there right away too.
“We’re definitely, I mean especially for me and him I mean, that’s the type of players we are. I think we’re not going to let liberties be taken while were out there, that’s for sure. I was more focused on what I was doing and then I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it after, so wind out of the sails thing, I was on the other side of the rink so wrong guy to ask, I guess.”
Thornton did say the team felt better when they saw Paille in between periods, though they knew right away with a head injury, Paille was done for the night.
‘Well, I saw him in between periods so I think, a little bit of relief there, we were talking, so a little bit of relief there,” Thornton said. “I haven’t gotten an update on him but at least I had a conversation with him so that’s a little easier to take.”
Paille was sent to an area hospital after the game for tests to determine the severity of the injury and whether or not he suffered a concussion.
|Bruins can’t wait for their next test: Sidney Crosby and the East-leading Penguins||12.05.11 at 10:42 am ET|
It’s the perfect test at the perfect time.
The Bruins have rebounded from a 3-7-0 start and are the hottest team in the NHL. They have 13 of 14 and are unbeaten in regulation since Oct. 29 in Montreal.
The Penguins are the top team in the East and have been the best team in the conference since the start of the season.
Now the top two teams in the conference meet in tonight in Pittsburgh.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” said Chris Kelly, who scored the game-winner on Saturday night. “They are playing extremely well. They have their best player back and he seems like he hasn’t missed a beat. It will be an exciting game for us.”
Of course, the “best player” to whom Kelly refers is Sidney Crosby. He returned from his post-concussion symptoms on Nov. 21 with two goals in a 5-0 win over the Islanders. He hasn’t scored since but he does have 10 assists and the Pens are 5-1-1 in the seven games with him back in the lineup.
“It’s going to be a big game,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “We haven’t faced them this season yet. Obviously they’ve got a healthy team now. I’m sure it’s going to be a good game.”
Tonight marks the first of four games between the last two Eastern Conference teams who have won the Stanley Cup. The Penguins won on Detroit’s home ice in Game 7 in 2009 while the Bruins accomplished the same feat back on June 15 in Vancouver.
Is this is a “measuring stick” game for the defending champion B’s?
“I think we’re approaching- we’ve got the right mind set going into every game right now,” new pugilist Joe Corvo said. “I feel like we’re playing the same way every game and we’re being super consistent and if we don’t at some point in the game, it gets corrected. I think it’s obviously a good test, they’re in first place so it’ll be an exciting game.”
With a regulation win, the Bruins will be just one point out of the top spot in the East, 15 games after being in the cellar.
“We want to get up there in the standings and this is a game for first place so it’s going to be a big one,” David Krejci said.
There will be no rest after the game, either. The Bruins hop on a plane and go halfway across the continent for a Tuesday night game in Winnipeg.
|Claude Julien hopes his team is ‘heading in the direction’ of the Red Wings||12.04.11 at 12:36 pm ET|
For all the talk of a Stanley Cup “hangover” following a 3-7-0 start, the Bruins are in the midst of one of the best early-season runs any defending champ has had in recent memory.
The numbers are remarkable.
A 10-game winning streak, points in 14 straight games, and a 13-0-1 mark in those 14 contests.
They dispatched of their division rival Maple Leafs, 4-1, on Saturday at the Garden, sweeping the home-and-home series. They have manhandled the Leafs, 24-6, in winning all four games this season.
What’s next for this powerhouse?
How about doing it year-after-year? That’s what Claude Julien is thinking, just like the Red Wings, the only team to beat the Bruins in this remarkable stretch, the day after Thanksgiving.
“As a coach you are always afraid you’re going to peak to early and then when things start going bad, it will take a while to get yourself back on track But I feel differently about this because of the, I guess the sentiment in the room and the feeling is we’re not taking anything for granted,” Julien said. “We’re staying poised, we’re not getting cocky, we’re not getting complacent, we’re still focused and that’s the part I like. And again, that’s probably from experience and we’ve seen other teams in the past and we talk about the Red Wings and every year they come back strong and maybe we are a team heading in that direction.”
But the Bruins don’t have to wait until possible rematch with the Red Wings in the Cup finals for their next big test. That’ll be Monday night in Pittsburgh against the East-leading Penguins with a now-healthy Sidney Crosby back and powering his team.