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Shawn Thornton on D&C: Tuukka Rask ‘unbelievable’ vs. Rangers 11.20.13 at 11:44 am ET
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Bruins forward Shawn Thornton joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to discuss the team’s recent hot streak.

Shawn Thornton

Shawn Thornton

That streak includes a 2-1 win over the Rangers on the road Tuesday night. Thornton tallied the game’s first goal, his third of the season. He also scored against the Blue Jackets last Thursday. Despite the offensive outburst, he still recognizes his role as the team enforcer.

“That’s still my job, first and foremost,” Thornton said. “[I’ve been] a little lucky the last few games, but I’ve still got my real job.”

Linemate Daniel Paille scored a shorthanded, game-winning goal in the second period.

“After Paille scored that goal, it kind of gave us a little bit of a lift, and you tend to get pumped up when you see the grinders pop one shorthanded,” Thornton said.

In the last five games, the fourth line — Thornton, Paille and Gregory Campbell – has a combined four goals, three assists and 19 shots.

“I always joke with the media that it doesn’t matter who’s on my line, we’re always the fourth line,” Thornton said. “I remember a few years ago, when [Blake] Wheeler was here, I got bumped up to play with [David] Krejci and Wheeler, but everyone just talked about how Wheeler and Krejci got demoted to the fourth line. It doesn’t matter who it is, if I’m on it, it’s still the fourth line.”

While Thornton and Paille provided the offensive fireworks in Tuesday’s victory, goalie Tuukka Rask shut down the Rangers. He allowed just one goal, and recorded 43 saves.

“Every time we play against those guys he’s unbelievable,” Thornton said. “I think he just really enjoys the challenge of facing Henrik Lundqvist. He earned it last night, he was unbelievable.”

Despite Thornton’s solid play of late, coach Claude Julien opted to make him a healthy scratch for the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Hurricanes on Monday.

“I don’t like sitting out, obviously, no one likes being the guy that’s the odd man out,” Thornton said. “He told me that it wasn’t because of my play, that I’ve been playing pretty well, it’s just [Jordan] Caron was coming up on sitting out 10 games straight, I think, and he wanted to get him in. And Carolina didn’t really have an enforcer threat, so it was as good a time as any to try to get him back in the game.”

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

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Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘far more prepared’ to win a closeout game vs. Rangers 05.23.13 at 11:49 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to preview Game 4 of the Bruins-Rangers playoff series.

The Bruins are looking to close out the series with a sweep, but Brickley said he does not expect the Rangers to lay down.

“They’re not going to want to lose on home ice,” Brickley said. “They’re not going to want to go down four straight to this Bruins team. They want to force a Game 5. They absolutely have a lot of pride. They’re professional athletes. They’re a team that was expected to do something this year, and the opportunities are sliding away quickly. So, I expect them to bring their ‘A’ game, and I expected their goaltender to play as well as he did in Game 3.”

The Bruins are coming off an impressive win in Game 3, as they delivered a solid effort for 60 minutes and scored two third-period goals to pull out the win.

“The thing I loved about the Bruins in Game 3 was no Jekyll and Hyde persona that Claude [Julien] likes to talk about; far more consistent,” Brickley said. “The best measure is quality scoring chances given up, and you can count them on one hand against [Tuukka] Rask in Game 3. Even though they needed two goals in the third period, the Bruins were never in any real trouble despite the one goal that beat Rask through a whole bunch of bodies from a screen on that shot by [Ryan] McDonagh from the point.

“The only thing that concerned you a little bit was the scoring chances that they had in the first period and were unable to beat [Henrik] Lundqvist. But their mentality coming into the series was that’s what they expected from Lundqvist all along, even though they didn’t get it in Games 1 and 2. So, I think the Bruins mentally and emotionally were prepared for that kind of performance. And they just try to stay on the attack and play to their identity, which was to roll those four lines.

“What they’ve shown us in this series is incredible depth that they have. No [Dennis] Seidenberg, no [Andrew] Ference, no [Wade] Redden. You get [Matt] Bartkowski, [Torey] Krug and [Dougie] Hamilton, and that gives you a different dynamic to your team — that speed, quickness and mobility on the back end. But I think you also saw their depth in Game [3], with your fourth line and the matchups you get with that fourth line and how good they played, with experience and with familiarity and their forechecking game — simple, fundamental and effective. And they end up being difference-makers on the scoresheet.”

The Bruins’ lack of success in non-Game 7 closeout games over the past three years has been well-documented. Brickley said the B’s appear to be better equipped to provide a finishing touch Thursday.

“I still have memories of Game 5 on home ice against Toronto, up 3-1,” Brickley said. “The way [the Bruins] responded in Game 3 [vs. the Rangers] makes me think that they’re far more prepared — mentally, physically, emotionally — for a closeout game situation. They needed three closeout games to beat the Leafs. You hope it’s a lesson learned. I expect the Bruins, since they’ve found some consistency now in their game, that they’ll be far better tonight.”

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

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Merlot Line leads Bruins to 3-0 series lead 05.21.13 at 10:11 pm ET
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Daniel Paille scored the game-winning goal as the Bruins took a 3-0 series lead over the Rangers with a 2-1 victory. (AP)

NEW YORK — The Bruins’ fourth line stole the spotlight from Henrik Lundqvist Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden as the Bruins came back in the third period to beat the Rangers, 2-1, and take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

With the B’s trailing by a goal entering the third period, the Merlot Line produced goals in two if its first four third-period shifts, the latter of which yielded a funky go-ahead goal from Daniel Paille off a rebound that went off Lundqvist’s mask and stayed in the air for a good amount of time before landing on the door step. Johnny Boychuk produced Boston’s first goal (his fourth of the postseason) on a shot from the point that had to make its way through some traffic that was led by Shawn Thornton.

Tyler Pyatt redirected a shot past Tuukka Rask at 3:53 of the second period to give the Rangers the lead in the second period after the teams skated to a scoreless first. The goal came on a rather uncharacteristic shift for Patrice Bergeron on which he lost the faceoff and then was unable to get a clearing attempt out of the zone.

But that was the only harm done against Rask, who turned in his latest superb performance highlighted by a pair of big saves on Rick Nash in the third period.

The Bruins will have the opportunity to finish off the Rangers Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS Read the rest of this entry »

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Barry Pederson on D&C: Rangers’ shot-blocking style causing problems for Henrik Lundqvist 05.20.13 at 9:45 am ET
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Bruins defensemen Torey Krug (left) and Adam McQuaid battle Rangers forward Brian Boyle during Sunday's game at TD Garden. (AP)

NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Bruins’ strong start to their series against the Rangers. Boston holds a 2-0 series lead following Sunday’s 5-2 victory.

The Bruins have been rejuvenated by the play of young defensemen Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton.

“I think right now they’re showing some signs of [being a better team with the rookies], just because of the element that these three young kids have brought, which is mobility, speed, I think right now playing with a lack of fear, a lot of confidence,” Pederson said. “But you can really see it, to me, from their offensive side. What I mean by that, a lot of times throughout the year when the offense has been struggling, everybody always points at the forwards. And vice versa, when the defensive game is struggling, everybody always point to the defense. I’ve always been a firm believer that your defense creates your offense, and your forwards create your defense.

“So, these guys are doing a really good job, to me, by jumping into plays, recognizing when there are outnumbered opportunities to make it a three-on-two, a four-on-three. Hamilton did a good job of that yesterday as well as Bartkowski and Krug. For now they’re doing I think a really good job of creating some offense and … they are bringing a little bit of speed and mobility that maybe the Bruins have not had back there in a while.”

With the strong play by the rookies, it’s led to a discussion about what coach Claude Julien will do if and when injured veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden are ready to return. Pederson said he does not anticipate a problem in the locker room.

“The guys recognize what this is all about, is trying to win hockey games,” he said. “It’s one of those problems that you love to have. … You can never have enough good, young defensemen, because they’re first of all hard to come by. And it’s a situation where these guys right now are playing this way. We’ll see how things go when you go into a more hostile environment in New York.”

Added Pederson: “I think if I had to look at how I would rank them, the rookies being taken out, starting with the first guy, I would probably take a look at Hamilton, it would probably go Krug, and then last would be Bartkowski to be removed from the lineup when and if they came back.

“If Redden was the first guy back, I’m not so sure if I would make a move quite yet. These guys have, I think, kind of earned an opportunity to continue. If it was Dennis Seidenberg who was healthy, there’s no doubt that he’s coming back immediately. I just don’t get a sense with Ference that he’s even that close, but again we don’t know anything about the injuries, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

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Henrik Lundqvist on Bruins Game 2 win: ‘We gave it to them’ 05.19.13 at 10:24 pm ET
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Henrik Lundqvist was critical of his own team, which he says gave the Bruins momentum in Game 2. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

In the eyes and mind of Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist, the Bruins didn’t take command of Game 2 and the series as much as the Rangers and their defense gave it to them.

“We gave it to them, we know,” Lundqvist said. “I thought we played great, we just, I didn’t think they had to work really hard to get a couple of goals there. We just made it really tough on ourselves. We just have to correct a few things and go home and turn this around. It doesn’t matter the score, it’s a loss. Overtime or 5-2, it doesn’t matter.”

Lundqvist was burned badly on yet another odd-man rush ending with Patrice Bergeron feeding Brad Marchand, just like the overtime game-winner in Game 1. This time, the Bruins used the Marchand goal 26 seconds into the third to take a 4-2 lead and all but seal their 2-0 lead, with the series shifting to New York for Game 3 Tuesday night.

“We did play well, we just made some mistakes,” Lundqvist said. “And like I said, it didn’t feel like they had to work really hard to get a couple of goals. So we just have to talk it through and be a little bit sharper on a few things, but a lot of things we did well.”

“This game was about tracking down pucks, and it was tough. A lot of late guys coming in, dragging the puck through the slot with guys in front of me, you just have to try to work hard to find pucks. It was definitely a tough game to play, no question.”

Lundqvist is hurting, and not just his ego. He took a shot to the shoulder in the third period that left a mark.

“It’s my shoulder,” Lundqvist added. “We’ll see. We’ll take a look at it.”

Lundqvist was the man who led the Rangers out of the darkness when they faced an identical 0-2 hole in the first round against Washington. Can they do it again?

“We have to look at it that way; we’ve done it before,” Lundqvist said. “But I think we are playing a better team now, so it’s going to be tough to do it. They’re a solid team and you can’t give them too much. They work hard and they pay attention to all the details in the game and that’s why they have been so successful so far in these two games.”

“I thought I was in position, but a couple of screens and when you give up five goals you can’t be satisfied, obviously. You have to look at the way they scored goals, too. It’s about teamwork out there, and today it didn’t really work for us. We just have to talk it through and I have to better and the guys in front of me have to step it up as well.”

What needs to change for the Rangers in Game 3?

“We’ll see,” Lundqvist said. “A lot of things were good today. But if you lose 5-2 you can’t be satisfied, that’s the bottom line.

“I think playing the Bruins is about paying attention to details in the game and I think they have been the better team in that department. All the details in the game, they play a solid team game and so do we, but when you lack that little bit it’s a tough game. But I’m confident and I’m going to go home and try to play a strong game in the next one.”

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Henrik Lundqvist talks like a man who knows he can only do so much 05.17.13 at 2:45 pm ET
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Henrik Lundqvist fights off a shot Thursday night in Boston. (AP)

For the second straight year, Henrik Lunqvist is a finalist for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL’s top goaltender. As a matter of fact, Lundqvist is making a very strong case as one of the greatest goalies ever to play the game. Before winning the Vezina Trophy in 2012, he was nominated in each of his first three seasons, and is the only goaltender in NHL history to record 30 wins in each of his first seven seasons.

And, for a second straight year, he has led his team into the second round of the playoffs by standing on his head. He came into Thursday’s Game 1 with back-to-back shutouts of the Capitals in Games 6 and 7 to lead the Rangers to victory. He extended that streak to 152 minutes, 23 seconds before Zdeno Chara beat him midway through the second period.

He stopped 45 of the first 47 shots he faced Thursday night, including the first 15 of overtime before Brad Marchand finally beat him in overtime for a 3-2 Bruins win in Game 1.

Lundqvist was searching for answers after Game 1, while hinting that he can only do so much if his offense doesn’t do anything to help take the pressure off. The Rangers were outshot, 16-5, in the extra period.

“I don’t know,” Lundqvist said when asked to describe the Marchand goal. “There was a two-on-one I guess, and I thought I made a bad decision. I mean it’s a tough play, but I could play it better. That was a tough overtime for us. We didn’t really get going, and they came out with a lot of energy and created a lot of chances. I thought we played a pretty good game. We did, but special teams were the difference, the one at one-nothing and then, I mean that’s going to be the case these playoffs. I talked about it in the first round and we’ve got to get it done. We didn’t.”

As is the case with most highly competitive athletes, he was looking for ways he could’ve done more to stop the game-winning goal, set up by a brilliant pass from Patrice Bergeron on a 2-on-1 rush up the center and right wing. Lundqvist stayed with Bergeron a bit too long, allowing Marchand the chance to get open in front.

“I’ve got to see the guy in the middle,” Lundqvist said. “I was too focused on the puck. I kind of knew he [Brad Marchand] was coming in the middle, but I just was too locked in on the puck, and that’s why I made a stretch move instead of coming with my pads together. It’s a technical thing and it happened fast. Sooner or later when you face a lot of chances like that, you’re going to make a mistake. It’s not a mistake I’m going to sleep less over. I thought we played a solid game, but we just came up short here, in overtime again.”

What did his coach John Tortorella think of Lundqvist being so hard on himself? Read the rest of this entry »

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Game 1 changed after Johnny Boychuk was injured on hit from behind at 11:35 am ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire made an appearance on the Mut & Merloni show Friday morning to dissect the Bruins’ Game 1 win over the Rangers.

After an uneventful first period, the teams traded goals in the second and third periods before Brad Marchand scored the game-winner when he tipped in a pass from Patrice Bergeron 15:40 into overtime. McGuire said the intensity level starting picking up after a play early in the second period.

“I really felt the whole game and the intensity of the game changed after the [Taylor] Pyatt hit on Johnny Boychuk,” McGuire said. “That amped up the entire energy in the building and amped up the entire energy between the two teams. And it created some good opportunities for some phenomenal athleticism from both teams. … In overtime it was clearly the Bruins’ overtime and they dominated it. Obviously, they had the power-play opportunity, they felt comfortable. That’s one of the reasons why home ice matters, because you have such a raucous crowd there. And I think the crowd really helped energize the Boston Bruins, especially during that power-play sequence.”

Added McGuire: “I’m not surprised they had a bit of a slow start. But I really, again, I can’t stress this enough: I thought the whole game and the whole energy of the game changed after Taylor Pyatt hit Johnny Boychuk from behind. That really changed the entire chemistry of the game. That’s good for the series going forward.

“I asked Brad Marchand last night on my interview after the game what kind of series he was expecting. He says, ‘Nasty, physical, mean.’ I would agree.”

Jaromir Jagr didn’t register a point Thursday, but McGuire said he believes his presence will be felt eventually.

“I think he can help the power play. That’s where I think he’s going to be a huge benefit for the Bruins, because of his ability to dominate the puck and make good decisions with it,” McGuire said. “Fatigue was a very real issue for Jaromir last night. That’s why I made the comment that I made [about Jagr needing short shifts].

“I was part of the management team that drafted him, I coached him, I skated with him a ton earlier in his career. I know the body of work that he’s presented, and I know when he’s tired and when he’s not. And you could just see he was breaking down last night after about 25-30 seconds. That’s normal; he’s 40 years old. But I expect that he’s going to help their power play. And I think at some point they’re going to have to look to put Tyler Seguin back on that line in five-on-five situations, especially in the second and third period.”

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