|Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins would have made playoffs with Jarome Iginla, Johnny Boychuk||04.13.15 at 1:05 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire joined Middays with MFB to discuss the Bruins failure to make the playoffs and the decisions that face the team in the offseason. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
The Bruins sat in playoff position heading into the last three games of the season but failed to win any of them and were passed by the Senators. This marks the first year the B’s have missed the postseason since 2008 season.
“I took the Bruins to make the playoffs, I thought the Bruins would have a great run,” McGuire said. “I’m totally wrong on that, they did not. But I think one of the ways you can track it, the two players that they lost.”
Before the season, Bruins management allowed free agent forward Jarome Iginla to leave and traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders for draft picks.
“I think the biggest thing is, I’m looking at it this season and I’m seeing 29 goals from Jarome Iginla that are in Colorado, and I’m seeing over 22 minutes a game from Johnny Boychuk and nine goals with the New York Islanders and over 35 points with the New York Islanders,” McGuire said. “Just those two players alone, you lose those two players for nothing basically, and that basically tilts your season, especially when you compound it with all the injuries the Bruins had.”
Added McGuire: “Let’s just say for the sake of argument that [Iginla] only scores 15. I guarantee you those 15 goals get you in the playoffs. … Boychuk, let’s just say that he only plays 16 minutes a game rather than 22. He’s still going to give you 35 points.”
|Bobby Orr on D&C: Zdeno Chara ‘not finished yet’||02.13.15 at 12:16 pm ET|
The Bruins legend discussed the team’s current struggles to maintain consistency.
“In our game today, just get to the playoffs. If you can get to the playoffs, who knows?” Orr said. “Look at the Bruins, look who they’re competing against. How much stronger are the other teams? The parity is unbelievable, and if you get there, who knows?”
Added Orr: “One of the key things for all the teams is injuries. I mean, the injuries that the teams have right now and have had all season, if you can go into a playoff healthy, you’ve got a shot. I mean, nobody’s that much stronger than the next.”
One of the struggling Bruins is veteran captain Zdeno Chara, who has shown signs of slowing down in recent years.
“He’s not finished yet, but he plays a lot,” Orr said. “He’s so big. I mean, if we go back to last year’s playoffs and the Montreal series, you could see that he was tired. And they do play him a lot, and they’re kind of in a bind now. I think they’re four points ahead of Florida for the wild card position. They’ve got to play him, he’s their best defenseman. … It’s unfortunate they can’t give him a little bit of a rest.”
The Bruins occupy the eighth and final playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
The rival Canadiens have shut out the Bruins in the season series this year, winning all four games between the teams.
“I’m not sure they’re that much better than the Bruins. It’s been like this for years,” Orr said when asked why the B’s haven’t been able to find a way to beat Montreal. “The Canadiens have had great luck against the Bruins, and it could be a head thing. The Canadiens come into Boston, and they play very well in the Garden. They really do. They’ve always played well in the Garden. Going back to my time, we had issues with the Canadiens. So it’s not just happening to this Bruins team, it’s been happening for a long time.”
Orr also offered his comments on the hot topic in New England sports: the Patriots’ Super Bowl victory. Leading up to the championship win two weeks ago, the national conversation was focused on the Deflategate controversy.
With that Super Bowl, Brady has solidified his legacy as one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time and is in the discussion for one of the best players in Boston sports history.
“Brady should be there. He’s a great quarterback, four championships, absolutely,” Orr said when asked if Brady deserved to be in that discussion. “Tom is a heck of a player.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins’ bad start ‘carried over to most of the rest of the game’||05.16.14 at 12:49 pm ET|
NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to break down the Bruins’ 3-1 season-ending loss to the Canadiens in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Bruins found themselves in trouble from the start in Game 7, after noticeably poor execution led to a quick Dale Weise goal to give the Habs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
“It started with a bad turnover by Matt Bartkowski, we showed it on television. That puck has to be in deep,” McGuire said. “I know it’s a simplification and people are probably saying, ‘What does that have to do with it?’ It had a lot to do with it, because you had all your forwards expecting to shoot it, and they don’t get back in time. Montreal makes a really smart move and Brandon Prust wins a footrace and gets it to Danny Briere, who eventually gets it to Weise, because Bartkowski’s looking at the puck.”
McGuire told Mut & Merloni on Wednesday that Game 7’s first goal would be significant, and he was proven right by the outcome of the game.
“I told you guys the other day the first goal was going to matter. The Bruins were never able to get it back on the rails,” he said. “Now, give Carey Price some credit, and the Bruins also didn’t have a lot of puck luck, but that was a bad start and it carried over to most of the rest of the game.”
McGuire said he could tell from his spot between the benches that the Bruins seemed deflated by the early goal.
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday to discuss the B’s season-ending loss to Montreal in Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals series, as well as his future in Boston. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Canadiens broke through with the game’s first goal from Dale Weise just 2:18 into what was generally considered an ugly opening period for the Bruins in their 3-1 loss Wednesday. Thornton was on the ice for the goal.
“That goal against 2 1/2 minutes in, kind of, didn’t take the passion away, but they’re a good team,” Thornton said. “They’re a tough team to battle back against. We can’t give them that goal. It was a bunch of errors that led up to it, but it was Game 7, you don’t want to be battling from behind 2 1/2 minutes into the game.”
Thornton said the locker room was quiet after the game and that he’s still in disbelief over the outcome.
“We’re just disappointed. We’re still in shock, I think. We planned on winning it,” he said. “We planned on going until the end, winning it all. We’re just as in shock as everyone else, if not more.”
Asked to rank the most significant factors in the series, Thornton put the play of goaltender Carey Price, who made 29 saves in Game 7 to cap off an impressive seven-game stretch, and the Canadiens’ role players ahead of Montreal’s speed and quickness.
“I don’t think [speed and quickness] was the reason,” Thornton said. “We didn’t bury enough of our chances. We had ample opportunities to bury it. … A little bit of puck luck, a little bit of timing and I think it could’ve been different, but it wasn’t. They won, they move on. We don’t, we drown in our sorrows.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Game 7 referee Dave Jackson ‘will blow his whistle a lot’||05.14.14 at 12:54 pm ET|
NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Bruins and Canadiens at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
While Monday’s 4-0 Game 6 win never seemed in doubt for the Canadiens, the Bruins set a physical tone with a scrum, which appeared to come out of frustration, at the end of the game, something that came as little surprise to McGuire with a deciding game upcoming.
“You’re trying to plant the seed doubt, no question about that,” he said. “I was a little surprised it didn’t take place with about eight minutes to go. In fact, I may have mentioned to [play-by-play announcer] Kenny Albert in the last 10 minutes that there would be more shenanigans.
“That’s just the way it works. It’s a long series, it’s a hard series, it’s a rivalry series. Boston has one significant advantage over Montreal: They’re most robust, they’re bigger. That’s just the reality, you can’t argue with it. Play to your advantage.”
Whether or not the Bruins will be allowed to play their physical style in Game 7 may depend on the officiating. Wednesday night’s referees will be Dave Jackson and Dan O’Rourke — who previously officiated the Bruins’ Game 2 victory that included B’s coach Claude Julien picking up a bench minor — while Shane Heyer and Brad Kovachik will be the linesmen.
“Dave Jackson will blow his whistle a lot,” McGuire said. “He’s called [games] by the letter of the law — now, only on stick infractions; hooking, holding and that stuff. He lets you play physical, chest to chest, shoulder to shoulder. … Dan O’Rourke is the best skating official in the league right now and he keeps up with the play very well. He will not be a whistle-blower.”
The team that has scored first in each game this series has won the game, something that McGuire believes will be equally important on Wednesday, especially with it being a Game 7.
“In the last 19 Game 7s, 17 times the first goal has won, and the only time we had a deviation was in the first round where Colorado scored the first goal against Minnesota, and San Jose scored the first goal against Los Angeles in Game 7,” he said. “That’s the only two deviations we’ve had. … That’s pretty significant.”
TSN’s renowned radio host Tony Marinaro believes he has found the magic touch to send the Canadiens to the Eastern Conference finals with a Game 7 win over the Bruins on Wednesday night. Prior to Monday’s Game 6 in Montreal, with the Habs facing elimination, Marinaro had the Rev. Joseph Fugolo say a prayer for the Canadiens, particularly struggling forward Max Pacioretty, who scored in Montreal’s 4-0 win.
On Wednesday, Marinaro — who is broadcasting from the WEEI studios and will appear with Mut & Merloni at 1 p.m. — had Fugolo back again to “bless a white Canadiens road jersey” in hopes of keeping luck on the Habs’ side.
Whether you believe in the power of prayer or not, Pacioretty had arguably his best game of the series on Monday with a goal and an assist, and said after the game that it “felt good” to get back on the scoreboard after missing some opportunities in previous games. Pacioretty is hoping that kind of effort continues for him in Wednesday’s deciding Game 7 at TD Garden.
Montreal’s Nathan Beaulieu is hoping to bring some pride to the organization’s contingent of “Black Aces.” The Black Aces are the minor league players the Habs call up from the Hamilton Bulldogs — the team’s AHL affiliate — in the last month of the season, and Beaulieu is the one who got the call before Game 6 on Monday. Beaulieu’s efforts on the big stage made an impression on Canadiens coach Michel Therrien.
Even on the road, there’s no avoiding a crowded Bell Centre for a Habs-Bruins game. The Canadiens will host a viewing party with Game 7 being shown on the big screens at the arena. Tickets were sold for $10 with proceeds going to the Montreal Canadiens Children’s Foundation.
Some Canadiens fans are so excited for Wednesday’s Game 7 that they have swarmed into a pair of local barber shops to have the Habs logo shaved in their hair. The barbers told CBC that fans have been lining up by the hundreds, and designs have included the Stanley Cup and P.K. Subban‘s face.
As is to be expected, there is plenty of support for the Habs north of the border in this series. But one Canadian bar went so far to hang a Zdeno Chara doll from the ceiling by a noose.
No matter who wins on Wednesday night, the Montreal Gazette’s Jack Todd writes that hockey is the real winner in this series. However, he did save room to leave his prediction at the end: a Canadiens win and eventual return to the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1993.
Adrian Dater of the Bleacher Report sees the Canadiens as not only the hungrier team, but also the better team, giving them the advantage over the Bruins in Game 7. Dater views the Bruins as worn down and offensively challenged, and he expects Carey Price to once again outplay Tuukka Rask.
Alternatively, Yahoo’s Nicholas J. Cotsonika refuses to count the Bruins out despite the celebrations on the streets of Montreal after the Habs’ win on Monday. Cotsonika cites Boston’s recent Game 7 experience — the Bruins have played nine deciding games in the last seven years — and home-ice advantage as enough reason to like their chances.
If the Bruins want to win Game 7, playing their physical game may be the best way to do it. Sports statistics website FiveThirtyEightSports compiled penalty numbers from recent postseasons and determined that teams take significantly fewer penalty minutes in Game 7s than any other game in a playoff series, a likely result of officials swallowing their whistles rather than more disciplined play.
|Bruins beat Canadiens in Game 5 to take 3-2 series lead||05.10.14 at 9:45 pm ET|
The Bruins’ third line struck again as the B’s took a 3-2 series lead over the Canadiens with a 4-2 Game 5 victory Saturday at TD Garden.
Carl Soderberg scored his first career playoff goal and had a pair of assists for the Bruins. He opened the game’s scoring, taking a pass from Loui Eriksson and a firing a shot stick-side high shot on Carey Price that went off the Montreal goaltender’s blocker and in at 12:30 of the first period. The first period saw eight penalties called between the two teams, with less than half of the period being played five-on-five.
The Bruins got a pair of power play goals in a span of 22 seconds in the second period, first with Reilly Smith redirecting a Dougie Hamilton shot and then with a wide open Jarome Iginla taking a feed from Torey Krug and beating Price to make it 3-0.
Tuukka Rask‘s shutout streak, which dated back to Dale Weise‘s breakaway goal in the second period of Game 3, ended when Tomas Plekanec fired a shot from the left circle during a Montreal penalty that went off Brendan Gallagher and in. Rask’s streak had lasted 1:22:06.
Loui Eriksson made it 4-1 at 14:12, getting to the puck in front after Matt Fraser fired a shot from the half wall that yielded a big rebound. P.K. Subban scored during six-on-four play with Matt Bartkowski in the box for his second holding penalty of the game at 2:29.
The Bruins will be able to close out the Habs as soon as Monday at the Bell Centre in Game 6. The B’s held a 3-2 lead in the teams’ 2011 postseason meeting but dropped Game 6 by a 2-1 score in Montreal before eventually winning the series in seven games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– That’s now two straight games in which Soderberg’s line has cashed in with Montreal’s third pairing of Douglas Murray and Mike Weaver on the ice. Taking advantage with the ever slow Murray on the ice should be a key to victory as long as Michel Therrien keeps the veteran defenseman in his lineup.
– The Bruins finally scored on the power play, ending a drought that had seen them go 0-for-10 at the start of the series. The goal featured a beauty of a pass from Torey Krug that got past Brian Gionta to Iginla. There were obviously coverage issues for Montreal to have left Iginla that wide open, but Gionta should have been able to get a stick on the pass to break it up.
– The Canadiens have to be in how-do-we-solve-Rask mode at this point, which is a fine turn of events after much the first eight periods of the series suggested the Bruins would be hard-pressed to solve Price. Rask stopped Max Pacioretty on a partial breakaway in the first period and stopped David Desharnais after the Montreal center took a stretch pass off a line change.
Rask even had his very own Tim Thomas moment, as he punched Plekanec in the hard after the Montreal center went hard to the net for a centering feed from Brian Gionta. The Bruins goaltender was penalized earlier in the period for batting the puck over the glass.
– One of the first things you should know about Fraser is that he has one of the best shots in the entire organization. The B’s didn’t see much of Fraser putting the puck on net during his 14 NHL games this regular season, however. The 23-year-old only had one shot on goal in Game 5, but it did major damage in yielding the rebound that led to Eriksson’s goal. Fraser had an opportunity in the high slot earlier but fired it wide of the net.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– In a development that few could have seen coming entering the series, the Bruins are taking a bunch of penalties at home despite being penalized only once in each game played in Montreal. Boston gave Montreal four power plays through the first two periods, and it could have been worse had Marchand gotten something extra for taking a whack at Eller after his penalty was called.
Bartkowski took a pair of holding penalties in Game 5, which gives him four this series and five penalties this series.
In scoring during Marchand’s penalty and Bartkowski’s second, the Habs have now scored six power play goals at the Garden this series with no power play goals at the Bell Centre.
– There was a brief scare for Johnny Boychuk on Plekanec’s penalty, as the Montreal center’s stick appeared to hit Boychuk in the throat area as Boychuk went to hit him. Boychuk was holding his chin/throat area after the play, but he stayed in the game, with Iginla’s goal coming on Plekanec’s penalty.
– Smith hit another post for the Bruins in the first period, which, if you’ve been counting how many times the Bruins have done that this series, means you’ve counted to a high numbers. Posts and missed nets on non-redirected shots usually means you’re going up a good goalie and you have to pick your spots well to beat him.