|Shawn Thornton on D&C: ‘You never really expect to sweep a [Penguins] team with that much firepower’||06.10.13 at 10:13 am ET|
The Bruins open the Stanley Cup finals on Wednesday in Chicago against the Blackhawks, who led the league with 77 points in the abbreviated regular season.
Thornton spent five years in the Chicago organization and made his NHL debut with the Blackhawks in the 2002-03 season, so he has some familiarity with a few of the current Blackhawks.
“I think their back end is as mobile as anybody’s in the NHL,” Thornton said. “I think that they’re a puck-possession team. If you give them their opportunities, if you turn that puck over they get going the other way in a hurry. They have some really, really crafty forwards up front also with [Patrick] Kane and [Jonathan] Toews and [Marian] Hossa. You definitely have to be careful.
“They’re similar in that way with the Penguins. But it’s kind of tough to compare them; we haven’t played against them this year. I only know from playing with those guys years back. I don’t really watch a whole lot of hockey.”
The Bruins are coming off a surprising four-game sweep of the top-seeded Penguins in the Eastern Conference finals. The B’s shut down Pittsburgh’s heralded offensive stars and limited the Penguins to two goals in four games.
“I honestly did not think we’d be able to shut those guys down for a whole series. Sweep was a little surprising, too,” Thornton said. “I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 2-0. I liked the feeling in our room after we were up 3-0 and going into Game 4. But you never really expect to sweep a team with that much firepower.”
Added Thornton: “Our D did an unbelievable job. The forwards helped out, but you’ve got to give the D and Tuukka [Rask] a lot of credit. And our penalty-killers. A lot of blocked shots. A lot of being in the right position. A lot of layers. A lot of hard work defensively. Definitely not easy. They had their chances, too. They hit a few posts and stuff like that. But I think for the most part we did as good a job as can be done against those guys.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Kaspars Daugavins the right call to replace Gregory Campbell||06.07.13 at 1:46 pm ET|
Andy Brickley, the color commentator for the Bruins on NESN, called into Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon, and he wholeheartedly agreed with Claude Julien‘s apparent decision to play Kaspars Daugavins Friday night after Gregory Campbell broke his leg in Wednesday’s double-overtime win.
“You have to look at it this way: What players are available in the absence of Gregory Campbell? And what are we losing in Gregory Campell?” Brickley said. “You’re losing an energy guy, a real good faceoff guy, a penalty-killer, reliable, accountable ‘ all those things that you want in your role-playing centerman.”
Brickley said once Julien split up Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly to center the bottom two lines, Daugavins makes the most sense of the options, including Jay Pandolfo, Carl Soderberg and Jordan Caron.
“Which player has the most trust of the coaching staff, and which player gives your team the greater flexibility and versatility if you have to shorten the bench or you get into a special teams game?” Brickley asked. “Daugavins is probably your best bet.”
Brickley, like many, many others the last two days, lauded Campbell for sticking it out for the rest of his shift after breaking his leg while blocking a shot during Wednesday’s marathon Game 3. He said the effort exemplified “the [hockey] culture, how these guys grew up,” and Campbell finishing his shift was a high-risk, high-reward situation.
“I know there was some discussion whether he should’ve just lied down and writhed in pain in order to get the whistle — but I don’t think it would have come — so he did what he had to do,” Brickley said. “The impact that that can have if you survive that penalty-killing situation, but then get yourself to the bench, the message received by the players [about] how committed you are.”
|Don Cherry on D&C: Brad Marchand ‘no pest’||at 12:15 pm ET|
Hockey Night in Canada analyst Don Cherry checked in with Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the Stanley Cup playoffs.
Cherry already is looking forward to a Bruins-Blackhawks Stanley Cup finals.
“Every guy on that team has an edge, and they play with an edge, the Bruins,” Cherry said. “I don’t know when they get on against Chicago and that. But I know one thing, boy, they’re playing smoking now. And when Chicago wins — and they’re going to win, too — that’s going to be a bang-up series. Chicago doesn’t hit — I know I’m jumping ahead a little here — but they’d better be ready because it’s going to be a tough series for them. There’s a few guys on Chicago that I think you’re going to hear footsteps.”
Cherry credited Claude Julien with using a more cautious strategy in overtime of Game 3.
“One thing I’ve never seen before in the playoffs or any time: Everybody, when you get in the OT, you always say attack, get it over with quick, attack, attack, get it in the first five minutes. The Bruins, if you watch, they had five guys back. I’ve never seen it before. They had five guys back, waiting for them to come, sitting and waiting for a break. I’ve never seen that before. And they got the break when [Jaromir] Jagr took the puck off [Evgeni] Malkin, and they went in. ‘¦ You watch, just before the goal, they were back at the red line, waiting for a break. Boy, it really paid off, I’ll tell you.”
“He’s not a pest,” Cherry said. “A pest is a guy that will get you about three or four goals, or five or six goals, that will go around jabbing guys and stuff like that. This guy is above all that because he can score goals. He’s what you call a good player that goes around looking for trouble, causes disturbances and that. ‘¦ You just can’t call him a pest or dirty or anything like that, he’s too good a player for that. He’s above that stuff. He’s just a good, honest, hard player that can score goals. That’s the why I look at it. He’s no pest.”
Gregory Campbell has become a cult hero for playing with a broken leg after blocking a shot on the penalty kill in the second period of Game 3.
“There’s no other sport in the world [in which] a guy will play with a broken leg. ‘¦ That’s the spirit of the Bruins,” Cherry said.
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning to preview Game 4 of the Eastern Conference finals. The Bruins can wrap up the series Friday night after taking a 3-0 series lead with Wednesday’s 2-1 victory in double overtime.
“It’s going to be tough for Pittsburgh, I think, to kind of bounce back after that type of loss,” Pederson said. “It wasn’t only a loss, it was the way you lose it, in double overtime. I think they had poured their emotion — they had obviously played a lot better than they had in the previous two games. I don’t think the Bruins played as well as they did in the two previous. But I do think the second period was kind of the opportunity for Pittsburgh to climb back in that series. They had three straight power plays and were unsuccessful. For the Bruins to come out of there in that situation, I think it kind of carried over into the overtimes.”
Pederson said the Penguins should have more urgency in this game, but they need a different strategy if they’re going to succeed.
Said Pederson: “I think the biggest surprise to me is not how well the Bruins are playing, because I’ve been around this enough and Claude Julien and his system to know how many good players they have, but it’s how poorly the Pittsburgh Penguins are playing and how out of sync they are with their game, and how they continue to sit in this game plan of — for some reason they must have watched the Vancouver series and thought that the Bruins had out-physicalitied the Vancouver Canucks, and we’re not going to let that happen to us, we’re not going to be intimidated. And they’re just running around like chickens with their heads cut off physically, and they’re not making any plays.”
With Gregory Campbell out after breaking his leg blocking a shot in the second period of Game 3, Pederson looked at the Bruins’ options going forward.
“What I would expect them to probably try and do is maybe move [Daniel] Paille up to that third line with [Chris] Kelly and [Tyler] Seguin, probably bring in [Kaspars] Daugavins or [Jordan] Caron, but I think Daugavins because I think the coach has more trust in him defensively, and he plays more of a fourth-line type of role. That means you move [Rich] Peverly to center, I think the coach trusts him there defensively and on faceoffs, he takes enough big faceoffs that you know that you can trust him in his own end. And of course with Shawn Thornton.
“So, I think they’ll try and play it that way. It will probably be more of a three-line rotation, but you will probably see this fourth line obviously a lot more than you did in the last game after Soupy was unfortunately out of the game.”
Pederson said the loss of Campbell cannot be overlooked.
“It’s big,” Pederson said. “It’s big because, we talked about going into the playoffs, if you had a strength, would you rather have a power play or penalty-killing. By far and away, when you look at the last two winners of the Stanley Cup, the Bruins and LA, we remember how dreadful both power plays were. But their penalty-killing and goaltending were exceptional. That just doesn’t give an offensive team any life whatsoever. So, they’re really going to miss him there.
“They’re going to miss him as a character player. He’s one of those guys that, like Shawn Thornton, in the dressing room the teammates just admire and respect what they do on a regular basis. It’s one thing for people just to remember him as a great role player in the sense that he goes out, he kills penalties, he does the little things that the coach really needs, and you can trust him to go out there and not be scored against. But it’s those games throughout the regular season when it’s 3-1, the Bruins are down, you need some type of momentum change. Well, he and Shawn Thornton go out there and do what they have to do to try and engage somebody. A lot of times, we all know with Soupy, he’s going to grab someone bigger than him, and he takes one for the team. And the guys really appreciate that.”
|Bobby Orr on D&C: Bruins ‘a better team than they were in ’11’||06.06.13 at 9:11 am ET|
“This team, you go back to the Toronto series, is this the same team? What did they do? Absolutely amazing,” Orr said. “They didn’t play great against Toronto. The 10 minutes of the last game, an unbelievable comeback. They played a little better against the Rangers. But in this series, they’re playing as well now as they did in ’11. They’ve completely dominated Pittsburgh. ‘¦ They’re playing their big guys against their big guys, and the Bruin guys that are supposed to score are scoring, Tuukka [Rask] has been unbelievable. I don’t know what happened. But Claude [Julien] and the coaching staff got them playing great. Very impressive. Very impressive.”
Added Orr: “This is team is playing unbelievable hockey. And people are going to say, ‘Well, Pittsburgh’s not playing very well.’ Well, the Bruins aren’t letting them play. They’re all over them, they’re not giving them any room. And when they get those chances, Tuukka’s coming up huge for that team. It’s a team effort.”
“I don’t agree with that at all, about him being overrated and this guy not doing da-da-da-da,” Orr said. “Let’s look at what the Bruins are doing. they’re not giving them one inch. You want to play tough? The Bruins are there. Finesse? Every player that’s supposed to — whatever the players’ strength is, that player is playing to his full strength. It’s wonderful to watch. And they’re defense, wow. Defensively they’re very, very strong.”
Gregory Campbell took a slap shot off his leg late in the second period but showed toughness by getting back to his feet and struggling to help the B’s penalty kill for almost a minute until the puck was cleared and he had a chance to get to the bench.
“What that kid did last night — I mean, they’re reporting he may have a broken leg. He obviously he was in pain, and he hung in there,” Orr said. “That’s the team. That’s the team right there. That’s what they are right now. We saw what they’re made of. This team has a ton of character. A ton of character.”
Added Orr: “What he did was incredible. Certainly it gave the team a great lift. Certainly the fans appreciated what Gregory did.”
|Claude Julien: Bruins ‘built’ for defensive success in playoffs||06.05.13 at 1:24 pm ET|
Defense wins championships. It’s a cliche nearly as old as the Stanley Cup. But it’s true. Keep your opponent from scoring and your chances of winning in the playoffs increases dramatically. And, according to Claude Julien, it’s been the secret to success for the Bruins in the first two games against the Penguins as the Boston forwards have shown a commitment to coming back and playing defense while the Penguins, not so much.
“It’s been good for us,” Julien said Wednesday morning before Game 3. “I think, when you look at our team, it’s built that way. We take pride in that part of our game, and that part of our game’s also given us the opportunity to be better offensively; turn that puck over quick and then everybody comes back, then we go back up the ice as a unit. That’s been a big part of our game and when it’s good, it provides us with some good offense.”
Julien was told that some in the Bruins dressing room Wednesday – like Daniel Paille – said that’s it’s not as simple as it looks to play a defensive system like the Bruins employ. Julien begged to differ.
“It’s not complicated, so I’m going to have to have a talk with Dan,” Julien said half-jokingly. “It really isn’t. What we try and do is eliminate the gray areas, make it black and white. It really is easy. He probably said complicated because he doesn’t want to tell you what it is. But it isn’t. This game shouldn’t be a complicated one.
“Guys have skills, you try to put some structure together, but the one thing you don’t take away is their ability to use their imagination and their skill and their hockey sense to make plays. Defensively, is where you’re extremely structured, and you want to make sure that you have layers and guys come back to where they should be positionally. When it comes to offense, a couple of rules, but the rest is about letting them do their job and letting them use their creativity.”
Julien again reminded everyone that his team is taking a level-headed approach in the hours before Game 3, knowing the Penguins figure to be hungry after losing Games 1 and 2 on home ice.
“It doesn’t matter what situation it is, I think our guys our mature enough to understand that whatever we went through, whatever the situation is right now, we have to be a good team in order to win at this stage of the season,” Julien said. “We can’t afford to let our guard down, whether it’s the respect for a team you’re playing, and the ability of that team to take advantage of you if you’re not ready, or whether it’s just from within our group to want to be a good team every night. That’s what’s important right now, thats we stay focused on the present and don’t live in the past, don’t look in the future. I’ve said that before, we’ve been good when we’ve kept our eye on what’s going on right now. That’s what we’ve got to do.”
|Claude Julien: Bruins playing best hockey, ‘without a doubt’||06.04.13 at 1:11 pm ET|
BEDFORD — As the Bruins returned Tuesday morning from Pittsburgh, they were peppered with the obvious question: Can it really be this easy over a high-powered team?
“Anytime you can come back from a road trip like that, and having won both games, it’s encouraging,” coach Claude Julien said of his team’s 2-0 series lead over the Penguins in the Eastern finals. “But our team is really playing good hockey right now, without a doubt the best we’ve had this year, and that has to continue to beat these guys. We were in that same position as Pittsburgh a few years ago and we worked our way back into it.
“I think we understand the situation here. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves here and understand that these next games are crucial for us just as much as it is for them.”
The Bruins now get the chance to close out the series without having to return to Pittsburgh if they can hold serve on home ice, starting with Wednesday’s Game 3 at TD Garden.
Julien said one of the keys to the Bruins’ success has been the commitment of the entire team to come back and help defensively on the high-powered Penguins‘ forwards, such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla.
“There’s been a great commitment on the part of our team to really play well defensively, and have layers and take away space from those guys and some room to pick up speed,” Julien said. “Guys have really bought into that. It’s helped us a lot and that’s why I’ve said we’ve got to continue doing that.”
Julien was asked if he thought there were any chance his team might take a 2-0 series lead for granted coming home.
“I would think not, not after everything we’ve been though, the ups and downs of playoff hockey,” he said. “We’ve had our share of downs so we have to make sure we stay up.
“I really think after Game 7 against Toronto, it was such a big comeback for us, it always seems to take something to get the team to gel and believe. That was a real big turning point for us. From there on in, I think against the Rangers, we played some really good hockey as well. They were a team that was gritty and was going to give us a lot of hard work to compete against. They did that. There was no quit in that team. And that just helped us get better.”
The biggest message from Julien: The Bruins are fully aware of what the Penguins are capable of and the series is far from over.
“And we know what Pittsburgh represents,” Julien said. “We haven’t lost faith in what we can do but we haven’t lost track of what they can do as well. They’re a potent scoring team. We have to make sure we stay on top of our game. It’s as simple as that.”
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