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Shawn Thornton on D&C: Jaromir Jagr has ‘bought in’ to Bruins system 06.19.13 at 9:35 am ET
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Shawn Thornton

Bruins winger Shawn Thornton checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning, with the B’s hours away from hosting the Blackhawks in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup finals.

Despite the Bruins’ domination in their 2-0 victory in Game 3 on Monday night, Thornton said his team is not overconfident.

“It’s just one game,” he said. “We played pretty well last game. [But] we had some frustration, too. We took a few penalties and we had some emotions at the end, too. So, it could have went either way. We just were fortunate enough that Tuukka [Rask] stood on his head and got us that shutout. To say that we’re in control I think is a little bit of a stretch at this point in the series.”

The Blackhawks were never more inept than when on the power play, as the Bruins stopped all five opportunities (allowing just four shots) and had better scoring chances shorthanded.

“They have pretty dangerous players over there,” Thornton said. “Our PK has done a very good job so far. But when I was in [penalty box] last game for two minutes, I was sweating the whole time hoping that my penalty wasn’t the reason they scored.

“They were missing [Marian] Hossa, one of their best players, last game. I don’t know what happened to him. But he’s back tonight, as far as I know. I think it will be a little bit of a different game tonight.”

The Bruins have demonstrated a solid team approach, committing to coach Claude Julien‘s defense-oriented system. Asked who the most important Bruin is, Thornton said newcomer Jaromir Jagr deserves credit for adjusting his game to fit the B’s style.

“Everyone has to buy in for us to be successful,” Thornton said. “The most impressive is probably I’d say Jagr, being that he just got here. I don’t know a whole lot about where he was before this — other than what you read on paper, and everyone knows — but I’m pretty sure that he’s pretty used to doing his own thing out there, and it’s worked out pretty well for him the last 22 years. He comes in here and he’s backchecking and finishing checks and battling on pucks. That’s pretty impressive when you’ve been doing something one way for 21 years and now you’re told you’re going to do it this way if you want to have success, and he’s bought in.

“The other guys, top to bottom, the whole time I’ve been here, it starts with those big boys. Then the little guys like myself have to fall in line and follow the system or else you’re not around. So, I think all the way throughout it’s been pretty good.”

Patrice Bergeron has stepped into the national spotlight with his all-around play in this series, something Thornton noted is long overdue.

“I think he’s finally getting his due,” Thornton said. “We’ve appreciated him in that room for the last five, six years that I’ve been here. He’s so good defensively. And the players he plays with — this isn’t taking anything away from [Tyler Seguin] or [Brad Marchand] when they’re together, or Jags and Marchy now, but if you put another centerman in between them, I’m not sure if they’re as successful in their own zone. He does a lot of things to cover up — not cover up, but he’s in the position to let them maybe take advantage a little bit more offensively, because he’s so good at being in the right spot and making sure that he’s behind you 100 percent defensively.”

Added Thornton: “On the other side of the puck he doesn’t get enough credit, how good he is offensively. He’s finally starting to get some due because he’s scored some timely goals for us in the playoffs. But when we skate with him in the offseason and in training camp and on a daily basis, the things you see him do with the puck, and how strong he is on it and how quick he is, there’s not too many guys that can control it like him.”

To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Brad Marchand says Bruins have finally learned their lesson: ‘We’re doing a lot more things right’ 06.18.13 at 5:49 pm ET
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Brad Marchand (63) celebrates with Patrice Bergeron during a magical Bruins playoff run. (AP)

Following Monday night’s 2-0 win over the Blackhawks in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, Claude Julien paid the ultimate tribute to his team by saying they’re fully committed to the cause.

Ask the players, and that is high praise indeed. The players know how much they played with fire late in the regular season and how much that spilled over into the first round. They were almost burned against Toronto.

But now?

The Bruins can sense the difference in consistency. That is to say, it’s there every night, compared to the beginning of the playoffs.

“Yeah, especially against Toronto,” Brad Marchand said, referring to the “Jekyll and Hyde” phase the team was going through. “Guys are way more focused and determined to do the little things right. I think after going through what we went through against Toronto, it kind of opened guys eyes to realize we need to all bear down and be better if we’re going to have shot at winning. I think after that series we all bared down and we’re doing a lot more things right.”

Obviously, for the Bruins to reach their goal, they need to do even more of those things in the next week and manage two more wins, something Marchand is fully convinced he and his teammates are capable of accomplishing.

“I think there’s still areas where we can improve, but for the most part we played a pretty good game,” Marchand said. “We’re doing some things right, there’s still lapses in our game where we need to get a little bit better. Hopefully we can clean that up going down the stretch.”

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Brad Marchand: ‘I don’t think anybody is out there trying to injury guys’ 06.17.13 at 1:53 pm ET
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Brad Marchand defends himself and his team Monday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Brad Marchand has been called a lot of things in his brief NHL career.

Antagonizer. Spark plug. Skillful finisher. Intense.

But the one thing he maintains is he plays within the rules. He doesn’t, for a second, consider himself a dirty player. The “dirty” tag came up again in an interview with ESPN Boston on Monday when Don Cherry said Marchand “is not a pest. He’s a hockey player that plays dirty.”

“When you’re getting suspensions and stuff like that, that’s playing dirty,” Marchand said Monday morning before Game 3. “You play hard, a lot of things happen in a game but I don’t think anybody is out there trying to injure guys.”

During the Eastern Conference finals, Cherry first told WEEI’s Mut & Merloni that Marchand is no pest.

As a matter of fact, Marchand maintains he hasn’t even tried to get under the skin of the Blackhawks so far in this Stanley Cup final.

“I haven’t really tried to do a whole lot,” he said. “I’m just trying to play the game. Everyone is so caught up in trying to antagonize guys and stuff like that, it just doesn’t happen like that. It comes with the game and you have to react to different situations.”

One thing is for sure, Marchand has plenty of respect for a Chicago team that has just as much speed and skill as the Bruins.

“They’re a great team,” Marchand said. “They come with a ton of speed which is always tough to play against. They don’t just throw pucks away. Every time they have the puck they make a play, which makes it tough out there. I think that’s the biggest thing I’ve noticed is just that they don’t ever seem to throw pucks away. Everything is right on the tape. If they don’t have anything, they just seem to swing back so they’re a great team. There’s no doubt about that.”

Still, Marchand was asked if he thought the Blackhawks hate him yet?

“I have no idea. You have to ask them,” he said.

The Bruins are 3-0 in Game 3s so far in these Stanley Cup playoffs while the Blackhawks are 0-3. Meaningful heading into Game 3 of the Cup final?

“It means nothing right now,” Marchand said. “It’s a completely different series and a completely different time.”

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What they’re saying in the Windy City: Tuukka Rask is really good, Bruins are outhitting Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews needs to step it up at 1:09 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask continues to be stellar in the Boston goal. (AP)

Chicago sportswriters realized over the weekend what Bruins fans have known for quite some time: Tuukka Rask is really, really good.

Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes that Rask has been the Bruins’ “saving grace,” his 1.73 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in the playoffs a huge reason the Bruins have gotten this far. She credits Rask, who collected 33 saves Saturday’s Game 2 overtime win, with preventing the game from “spinning wildly out of the Bruins’ control.”

Count Tyler Seguin among those appreciative of the netminder’s performance.

“He shows on a consistent basis why we have so much confidence in him, but he also gives us more motivation to do it for him sometimes,” Seguin said. “Especially if you look at [Saturday's] game, it could have been 4-0 or 5-0 after the first. We weren’t ready. We were on our heels, and they were playing great. He kept us in the game.”

Kane quotes Rask, however, as staying his usual, humble — albeit tired after not sleeping much Saturday night — self.

“I don’t try to prove anything to anybody else but for myself and my teammates,” Rask said. “I always feel like I’m in a zone. … It’s nothing different. It’s just another game.”

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Don Cherry on D&C: Bruins will win Cup; Penguins’ Evgeni Malkin ‘a loser’ at 9:26 am ET
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Don Cherry

Don Cherry joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning, and the CBC Hockey Night in Canada analyst said he is sticking with his pick of the Bruins to win it all against the Blackhawks.

“They are going to win the Cup,” Cherry said point-blank. “I picked Boston all the way through.”

“It’s funny how the Bruins can turn it on like that,” he added, referencing the Bruins seemingly flipping a switch in the middle of Game 2 Saturday night. “It was like how it was against Toronto [in Game 7]. ‘Oh, 4-1? We’re going to turn it on for about 15 minutes.’ And that’s what they did in the overtime. If Chicago plays like they did in the overtime, it’s not going to go long.”

Part of that, the former Bruins coach said, was the result of the B’s consistently physical play, particularly after the first period.

“A few [Blackhawks] guys are hearing footsteps … and the defense gets rid of the puck early,” Cherry said. “Instead of taking their time a little, they know guys like [Milan] Lucic are coming, that little shot’s coming, and they get rid of the puck early.”

Cherry acknowledged that both goalies, Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford, have been playing superbly, and he doesn’t expect any blowouts in either direction.

Cherry heaped praise on Rask in particular, even giving him the edge over Tim Thomas’ performance during the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run.

“Timmy Thomas did play great — I’m not putting him down — but Rask is unbelievable,” Cherry said. “He is in a zone right now.”

Cherry also spoke highly of Tyler Seguin, saying he fully expects the young forward to start producing more soon. The key is giving Seguin, in the form of ice time and confidence, the opportunity to succeed. Now that that is starting to happen again, the puck should start to fall.

“When you don’t play, you’re not going to be anything,” Cherry said. “He was taken off the line when [Jaromir] Jagr came. How would I handle him? I’d play him to death. And when you play him to death, he’d come through for you.”

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Bruins insist the Blackhawks aren’t the Penguins 06.11.13 at 7:08 pm ET
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The Blackhawks are similar to the Penguins, but not the same. (AP)

CHICAGO — The Bruins didn’t see the Blackhawks in the regular season this year because of the lockout, but did facing the Penguins prepare the B’s for Chicago?

“It’s hard to really compare them to someone when you haven’t faced them, but if you look at them on paper, their lineup, a lot of people like to compare them to Pittsburgh,” Zdeno Chara said.

That’s right. A lot of people do compare them to Pittsburgh, and it’s probably why many assumed that the Penguins and Blackhawks would meet in the Cup finals. There is a difference between the teams though, most notably that Chicago is a much stronger team defensively. Their defensemen are good in their own end and move the puck exceptionally well, plus they have stronger goaltending.

Yet the team’s high offensive output has led to comparisons to Pittsburgh. Brad Marchand even made the comparison, but like Chara noted that the similarities are in the rosters, not the styles of play.

“The closest team to what they would do would be Pittsburgh just because of the talent and skill they have, but they don’t really play a similar game,” he said. “Pittsburgh was more keen on chipping pucks in and going after it. I don’t know if Chicago’s like that, but there’s not really any other team that plays like they do. They play a different game and I think that’s why their so tough to stop.”

Marchand was then asked if the Bruins would take the same approach to the Blackhawks as they did against the Penguins.

“That’s a sneaky question right there,” Marchand said with a grin. “It’s a completely different team. I just said that they’re not the same team. They’re similar in skill and talent, so very sneaky question by you. Trying to get me in trouble over here, but they play a different game and it won’t at all be like the Pittsburgh series.”

There is one Bruin who faced the Blackhawks this year: Jaromir Jagr, who played them twice as a member of the Stars and had no points, four shots on goal and a minus-1 rating in two meetings against Chicago.

“I know everything about them,” Jagr said with a laugh, as questions about the teams’ unfamiliarity with one another were aplenty given that teams only played conference opponents this season.

The Blackhawks won both games Jagr played against them, one of which was an 8-1 blowout, so it’s no surprise that Jagr respects their talent.

“When we played them in Dallas, I thought they were in the best team in that conference for sure,” Jagr said. “They played different hockey than any other team in that conference. They’re quick, so talented up front, but they’re quick on defense. I think that’s a huge difference compared to other teams. They’re so fast and everybody can move the puck on their defense, so we have to be careful of that.”

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Zdeno Chara’s presence ‘mammoth in a series like this’ 06.10.13 at 1:38 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to preview the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.

The B’s and Blackhawks have a number of similarities, but McGuire said no other team has someone who can compare to Zdeno Chara.

“They’re similar in a lot of different respects,” McGuire said. “They’re similar in terms of their star power through the middle. They’re similar in terms of their size and their speed on the wings. They’re similar in terms of veteran experience in goal — or lack thereof. They’re similar in terms of their depth on defense. Chicago’s left defense [Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy] is much faster than Boston’s left defense. That’s a key part of the Chicago team. But nobody outside of Boston has Chara. That is mammoth in a series like this.”

Added McGuire: “Chara’s made a huge impact on these playoffs, as he usually does, and he’s made a huge impact especially in the last series.”

Another similarity is the fact that both teams have an agitator who has some talent: Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw. Of Shaw, McGuire joked that Bruins fans “are going to learn to love him quick.”

“Like Marchand, Shaw has tremendous offensive skill. … He’s not a guy that’s just a super pest. He’s a player. He’s a real player,” McGuire said. “He’s very similar to Marchand. I don’t know if his top-end skill is as good as Marchand; in fact, I would say it’s not. But his pest factor is as high if not higher. He’s fearless, absolutely fearless. Tremendous player. There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t want this player.”

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