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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Patrice Bergeron ‘one of the top 10 players in the league’ 03.08.13 at 12:22 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC’s Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Carl Soderberg, for whom the Bruins traded in 2007 only to see him stay in the Swedish Elite League, the possibility of visors being made mandatory for NHL players, and Patrice Bergeron‘s role on the team.

“You look at the plus-minus for Tyler Seguin and Brad Marchand last year — a big part of it was because of Patrice Bergeron teaching them to play in their own zone. I’m convinced of that,” McGuire said. “There’s a lot of similarities to what Bergeron does to what Jean Ratelle did in his prime, and he’s a Hall of Famer. Bergeron and Ratelle are so similar. The one thing about Jean was the consistency in his game. Just ask Rod Gilbert about the influence Jean Ratelle had on him on the Goal-A-Game-line down in New York, or you can ask Marchand and Seguin, and I’ve done it, what’s the influence of Bergeron on their game. It’s huge.”

McGuire said he considers Bergeron “one of the top 10 players in the league,” and that his consistency and two-way play likely will lead to a long-term contract extension with the Bruins soon.

“I think [the Bruins] understand the value of players like that in a city like Boston,” McGuire said. “They’re so proactive when it comes to signing players they want to keep. You look at the extension to Seguin, you look at the extension to [ZdenoChara. They’re aggressive when it comes to identifying players that are really important to their team and keeping them, so I’ve got to believe at some point they’re going to get aggressive with Bergeron.”

News broke Thursday that Soderberg, for whom the Bruins traded Hannu Toivonen in 2007, is in talks with the Bruins about coming to Boston after the Swedish Elite League season ends. McGuire said he sees him as an impact player, likely a third-liner.

“The thing about him that’s so good is he’s rangy — he’s about 6-foot-3, 6-foot-4, 195 to 200,” McGuire said. “Serious skill level … he’s got huge offensive skills, a major breakthrough year for him this year, more mature now than he probably ever was, so I wouldn’t be surprised to see him be able to play right away in the National Hockey League.”

McGuire said Soderberg’s transition to the NHL could be comparable to that of Damien Brunner, who came over from Switzerland to put up 10 goals and eight assists so far in his rookie season with Detroit.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Matthew Barnaby on D&C: Bruins over Lightning in Eastern Conference finals 05.05.11 at 10:32 am ET
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Matthew Barnaby

ESPN NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins’ success in the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.

Boston took a 3-0 series lead on the Flyers with Wednesday night’s 5-1 victory and can close out the series Friday night at TD Garden.

“They’re playing at full tilt and they really aren’t making that many mistakes,” Barnaby said of the B’s. “When you look at the Philadelphia side, they just can’t seem to get anything going. … It’s a different team than we saw all year long, very suspect goaltending and Chris Pronger not being in that lineup really changes the dynamic of that team.”

Tim Thomas has been stellar in the Boston goal and drawn comparisons to one of Barnaby’s former teammates. “Tim Thomas is to me right now what I played with in Dominik Hasek when I was with Buffalo,” Barnaby said. “He gets into guys’ heads. He makes you pass when you think you should shoot and shoot when you think you should pass. That plays into guys’ minds.

“Sometimes he has you beat [mentally]. He has shooters passing when they should be shooting, and it’s a tough thing to not think you can score. Because I saw it time in and time out, frustrating other teams, night after night, shift after shift. And that’s what Tim Thomas is doing. You expect him to make that big save, and it plays mind games with you.”

The Lightning swept the top-seeded Capitals in the other Eastern Conference semifinal, and that has Barnaby anticipating an exciting Bruins-Lightning series.

“I love this series,” Barnaby said. “You look at goaltending. Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas have been the two best goalies in the postseason so far and would be candidates for the Conn Smythe, early running. You look at power plays. Well, you have to give it to Tampa Bay. They’ve been incredible. I think they have 11 or 12 power-play goals already [12 for a 26.7 percent success rate]. Both with some dynamic forwards. The defensive side, I’d give it to Boston. I think Zdeno Chara, he’s logged so many minutes, he’s such a big man.

“I really think it will be an incredible series and could go seven games.”

Asked who he’d predict to win the series, Barnaby said: “I would take Boston.”

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Bruins/Flyers Game 2 Live Blog: Headed to overtime 05.02.11 at 6:59 pm ET
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Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia live from Wells Fargo Center (as well as a cast of others) as the Bruins take on the Flyers in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Brian Boucher, Chris Pronger, James Van Riemsdyk Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Paul Holmgren confirms: Chris Pronger is out for Game 2 at 6:06 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA — Approximately an hour before faceoff for Game 2, Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren confirmed that top defenseman Chris Pronger will be out with an undisclosed injury.

TSN’s Bob McKenzie – on his twitter page – initially reported in the afternoon that Pronger would likely miss the game, with Danny Syvret taking his place. But Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren sent a text out to Philadelphia beat writers that the defenseman was “OK,” leading to speculation that he would play in Game 2.

But minutes later, numerous reports confirmed the Pronger scratch for Game 2.

Pronger missed the last five minutes of Saturday’s Game 1 and was spotted headed up the runway with about two minutes remaining.

The injury is not believed to be related to the broken hand he suffered in the middle of the season, leading to speculation that it is some sort of leg or lower body injury.

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With or without Chris Pronger and Jeff Carter, Flyers must pick it up at 2:07 pm ET
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Chris Pronger played 19:45 and was a minus-3 in Game 1 vs. Boston. (AP)

PHILADELPHIA — The Bruins were without their top defenseman Zdeno Chara for Game 2 last round and that didn’t work out so well. Now they hope, turn about is fair play as the Flyers could be without Chris Pronger tonight for Game 2.

Pronger didn’t play the last five minutes of Saturday’s game and was seen trotting up the runway with two minutes left as the Bruins finished off the Flyers, 7-3.

Will he be available tonight?

“With regard to injury, everything comes from the general manager Paul Holmgren,” head coach Peter Laviolette said.

Adding insult to injury for the Flyers is the likely chance that Jeff Carter will be unavailable as well. Both missed the Flyers’ morning skate at Wells Fargo Center.

“I think we’ve had success when we’ve had success when those guys have been out of the lineup, just speaking from past instances when Carter and Pronger have been out,” Laviolette added.

It’ll be Sean O’Donnell and Andrej Meszaros asked to pick up more of the slack if Pronger can’t go.

“Well, we’ve gone through a lot stretches without him in the lineup and guys have stepped up on the D-corps and played well,” said Flyers forward Scott Hartnell. “O’Donnell and Meszaros have been great fifth and sixth defensemen. On another team, they may be third, fourth guys so you look around the room, Kimmo [Timmonen] played some great minutes and playing the best hockey of his career so we’re excited about it.”

“It doesn’t matter,” added Danny Briere. “We can’t just rely on him. Obviously, it’s nice when he’s in the lineup, he’s a big piece of the puzzle. We played a lot of games without him and we were successful. We can’t sit back and hope that – if he plays – he’s going to change everything. We all have a job to do and that’s what we have to focus on.”

The Bruins are playing coy and saying they’re focused on themselves prior to Game 2.

“Is he hurt? I didn’t even know,” Bruins center David Krejci said. “I’m just focusing on my game. That’s all I can do.”

“I don’t know. I’ve never played them without Pronger,” added Bruins forward Chris Kelly. “Obviously, he’s a great player, and he’s a big impact for their team, just like Zdeno Chara is for us. I think both teams are lucky to have those players.”

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Claude Julien: We don’t need to change ‘a ton’ for the Flyers 04.29.11 at 2:06 pm ET
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Before the team left Boston for Philadelphia Friday, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said the Flyers are a better match up for his team than the Canadiens were in the first round. The Bruins captured three of the four meetings in the regular season and were even able to score on the power play four times, something they failed to do in 21 tries in the opening round.

“We match up well against them and they’re always close in tight games and we got to go in there with some confidence and obviously some determination,” Julien said. “Playoffs is a different situation than the regular season, but again as I mentioned it’s just one of those things that we feel that we don’t have to change a ton of things. And if there’s adjustments to make along the way, we just have to be prepared to make them.”

The Flyers, however, did not have big defenseman Chris Pronger at their disposal in the last meeting on March 27 in Philadelphia as he was still healing from the effects of a broken hand.

“He’s an experienced guy, a guy who has got good size as well and has got a good shot,” Julien said. “I know he certainly hadn’t used it much when he’s come back now. Whether he’s 100 percent, we don’t know, and it really shouldn’t matter to us.

“But he’s been a big part of their power play and when you get a guy like that back, it’s no doubt that it’s a boost for their hockey club and certainly helps. So we’ve just got to continue I guess playing the way we have been against them for most of the year this year. I thought we played them well and we came out with three wins, and I think we had the overtime loss.”

The Bruins’ only loss to the Flyers came with three seconds left in overtime on Dec. 11 at TD Garden when Mike Richards beat Tim Thomas with a wrist shot. The Bruins also showed they can win all sorts of games against Philly, 3-0, in Philly on Dec. 1, 7-5 in a Garden shootout on Jan. 13 and 2-1 on Brad Marchand’s goal late on March 27. The Bruins also appear to have the clear advantage in goal with Thomas starting all seven games of their series against Montreal while Brian Boucher was one of three different Philadelphia netminders to see action against Buffalo. Read the rest of this entry »

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Flyers stay alive with Game 4 OT victory 05.07.10 at 10:12 pm ET
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PHILADELPHIA – The Flyers kept their season alive and got a digit in the win column in the Eastern Conference semifinals as they beat Boston 5-4 in overtime of Game 4 at the Wachovia Center on Friday evening. Simon Gagne scored the game-winner in the extra frame to keep Philadelphia’s Stanley Cup hopes alive. Brian Boucher got his first win of the series and stopped Tuukka Rask’s four-game playoff winning streak in the process to force a Game 5 in Boston on Monday.

The Flyers were up by a goal by Ville Leino late in the third period and looked like they would squeak out the win after Boston came back from a two-goal deficit to tie it a three but Mark Recchi scored an empty-net goal with 31.5 seconds left in the game to send it to overtime.

Boston took the early lead for the third time in the four games as Mark Recchi recorded his fifth strike of the playoffs at 15:37 in the first period. The play was set up by strong play from Dennis Wideman and Daniel Paille through the netural zone that set up center Patrice Bergeron on a partial break on Boucher. Bergeron got off a weak shot but Boucher had committed on the ice and was forced to deflect the puck back into the slot with his side while laying on his side. Recchi was following Bergeron on the play and flipped it high for the 1-0 advantage.

The Flyers came back on during a 4-on-4 after Scott Hartnell and Vladimir Sobotka went to the box with matching roughing penalties at 18:06 in the first. Defenseman Matt Carle rushed down the left wing and slipped the puck through the high slot to the stick of Claude Giroux who was skating on a parallel line with Danny Briere. Giroux slowed up and tapped the puck to Briere who sent a snap shot on Rask that found its way to the back of the net to tie it at 19:06.

The Flyers took the lead with two goals in the second period, the first time in the series that they have had a two-goal advantage over the Bruins. Chris Pronger scored the first when he took a slap shot from the high slot that deflected off of defenseman Mark Stuart’s skate and zipped passed Rask at 4:28 to make it 2-1. Giroux made it 3-1 when he crashed the net as Scott Hartnell was battling on the elbow of the crease to dislodge the puck from a tie-up against the post. Hartnell was able to kick it through the crease and Giroux slammed it home at 8:35.

Boston got back to within a goal at 10:56. Michael Ryder took a slap shot from the high slot that went wide of Boucher’s net and rebounded off the end wall back to the corner of the crease. Boucher went to cover but Vladimir Sobotka crashed the goalie and hit the glove to dislodge the puck and squirt it through Boucher’s legs to get Boston back with a goal.

The Bruins would tie it back up at three early in the third on the power play. Dennis Wideman took a wrist shot from the left point that he elevated to Milan Lucic’s hip as the forward was camped in the slot in front of Boucher. Lucic got an eek of a tip on the puck to deflect it through the crease at 3:49.

Three Stars

Chris Pronger — Had a goal and a big assist on the game-winner to keep his team playing hockey in the month of May.

Claude Giroux — The sophomore forward helped the Flyers create offense with a goal and an assist to give him nine points through the playoffs.

Mark Recchi — The game-tying goal was simply amazing as the veteran and future Hall of Famer added another chapter to his legacy.

Turning Point – Lucic’s tip was set up by a Flyers penalty to Ville Leino for hooking at 2:59 in the third period. The Flyers had held the Bruins scoreless through their first two power play attempts of the game but Boston was able to settle the puck in its third attempt and cycle it to the point where Wideman could wind up and fire. Lucic was in decent position in the slot and shot the shaft of his stick on it, enough to get it passed Boucher. The goal made the game competitive again until late in the Recchi sent it to overtime.

Key Play – Recchi’s game-tying goal will be one of those moments that goes down in NHL playoff lore. He could have one-timed the shot off the stick of Patrice Bergeron but stopped, held it for a moment, let Boucher get out of position and flipped it top shelf to send the game to an extra frame.

Read More: Brian Boucher, Chris Pronger, Danny Briere, Mark Recchi Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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