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Mike Milbury on midday show: ‘I like that trend’ of physical play from B’s 03.02.11 at 12:57 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the WEEI midday show Wednesday to talk about the red-hot Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the WEEI audio on demand page.

The B’s completed a perfect six-game road trip with a 1-0 victory over the Senators on Tuesday night. Milbury said the resurgence of Nathan Horton and Michael Ryder was a key from the trip.

“The sign that was great for me was Nathan Horton doing something to make a difference,” Milbury said. “Because Horton and Ryder on the right side have to be active and productive. They’ve been uneven all year long. I think it’s important that they stay this way. The fight [Horton] had against Theo Peckham in Edmonton was a brawl. He came out clearly on top. This guy is tough. If he can get the fuse lit for him, the Bruins are going to be a very dangerous team to beat.

“The same is true of Ryder, who I actually think has skated much better along the road trip, and even prior to the road trip, than he has at any time since I’ve seen him. The puck’s not going in as regularly as I think he’d like, but you can see that he’s getting things done.”

Tomas Kaberle, acquired from the Maple Leafs last month, is not signed past this season. Asked if it would be worth it to the Bruins to only have the defenseman for a third of a season, Milbury said: “When you have a chance to make a run for the roses, you’ve got to take it. You’ve got to take advantage of it.”

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Read More: Michael Ryder, Mike Milbury, Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton
Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘I’m not going to miss Blake Wheeler’ 02.23.11 at 12:52 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Looking at the Bruins’ recent flurry of moves, Milbury said he’ll miss defenseman Mark Stuart ‘€” “a great depth defenseman and a terrific guy and a character guy” ‘€” who was sent to the Thrashers. However, he isn’t lamenting the loss of Blake Wheeler, also sent to Atlanta. “I’m not going to miss Blake Wheeler,” Milbury said. “I thought he was a near-miss ‘€” a near-miss when he went to hit a guy, a near-miss when he went to shoot a puck. It looked like he was a ball of energy, but when the moment of truth came, he came up short for me. That was a hole that needed to be patched.”

Added Milbury: “I think Peter Chiarelli did a great job in acquiring character players. I think the third and fourth lines for the Bruins, however they construct them right now, will be as good as anybody else’s third and fourth lines in the National Hockey League. The defense is solid. The [Tomas] Kaberle addition brings them the puck-moving guy that they wanted. I still wish they had somebody else that could deliver it to the net with some authority, but I’m certainly not going to complain about that.”

Milbury said the Bruins’ success will come down to this: “Are the top six forwards on the Bruins good enough to get it done?”

One of the players giving the B’s reason for hope is winger Brad Marchand. “His assets are significant,” Milbury said. “He’s got great speed. He’s got courage ‘€” he’s totally unafraid to go where he needs to go. He’s got a terrific shot. I’m not really prepared to say how well he sees the whole ice, he sees it well enough. He’s put himself in position for people to say ‘€” obviously, time will tell, but it looks like he could be a top-six forward.”

Looking elsewhere around the league, the Devils are red hot ‘€” eight straight wins and a 16-1-2 record in their last 19 games ‘€” and Milbury said he’s pulling for them to resurrect their season and make the playoffs, with a caveat. “I don’t know that they’re going to make it, but I sure hope they do,” he said. “I hope they make it and get knocked out in the first round, because they’re still boring as hell.”

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Brad Marchand, Mark Stuart, Mike Milbury
Mike Milbury on D&H: B’s made ‘wise decision to add to their depth and toughness’ 02.16.11 at 12:52 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk Bruins and NHL news. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury indicated he likes the Bruins’ acquisition of Chris Kelly from the Senators. “I think the Bruins have made a wise decision to add to their depth and toughness,” he said. “In both cases, you can’t get enough of it, particularly when it comes time for playoff time.”

The Bruins reportedly have interest in Maple Leafs defenseman Tomas Kaberle. “He’s a quiet player,” Milbury said. “He’s efficient, he’s not a physical force, doesn’t have a big shot, moves it pretty well from the point. I didn’t mean to be too critical of him the last time we spoke. If I was, I stand somewhat corrected.”

Added Milbury: “This is a player that’s going to need to step it up in terms of intensity and commitment level if he does come to Boston. That’s how I see it.”

On Friday night, the Islanders sought revenge on the Penguins for previous hits by sparking a number of brawls. The NHL responded with suspensions and a $100,000 fine for the Islanders due to their inability to control their players. However, Penguins owner Mario Lemieux said it didn’t go far enough.

“What happened on Long Island was unacceptable,” Milbury said. “Clearly, the league made that statement. We allow fighting because we like it. ‘€¦ We like the manliness of it. We like the immediate retribution for a perceived slight to our teammates or to ourselves. We like it when guys stand up for themselves. And we like it that they’re willing to sacrifice and are they’ll go as far as dropping the gloves to do it.

“But it’s not supposed to be a tactic. We bristle when people come up from behind, because it crosses our sense of etiquette in the hockey world. We bristle a little bit more when it seems to be not a mano-a-mano retribution thing but almost a team-wide, orchestrated thing. And we really don’t like it ‘€” and what happened on Long Island ‘€” is when somebody is in a compromised position that the fighter continues to pummel his opponent. And not only that, once it’s over, he comes back to taunt him from the runway. All silly, and a black eye for the league.

“Fortunately, it’s an aberration. It doesn’t happen very often any more. But when you allow fighting, and you allow those emotions to vent, it’s difficult to control it. From time to time, you’ll see this stuff. As I said, fortunately it’s less frequent now.

“The league acted. Was it strong enough? You can debate that. You could certainly have an argument about whether it was forceful enough to make changes in behavior. But it was a strong and it was an immediate statement. I think everybody would grant that.”

As for Lemieux’s criticism, Milbury noted that Matt Cooke still is a member of the Penguins. “Pittsburgh is not a goody-two-shoes team,” he said. “They’re a snippy little bunch. They’re not shy when it comes to a hit when you’re vulnerable.”

Read More: Chris Kelly, Mario Lemieux, Mike Milbury, Tomas Kaberle
Mike Milbury on D&H: Andrew Ference overstepped his role 02.09.11 at 1:32 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

B’s coach Claude Julien announced at the morning skate that Tyler Seguin would be a healthy scratch for Wednesday night’s game vs. the Canadiens. “Well, it’s been a long time coming,” Milbury said. “His level of involvement has been less than you would hope for. He’s got a lot of things to learn. There was a lot of pressure on this kid coming into the season. And the expectations, as I think we all knew, and I stated it earlier, were a little unrealistic.

“There are some 18-year-olds, the rare exception, who can come in and be an impact player of some form or another. But most go through a fairly long growing phase. And that’s what he’s in. And that’s what he’s going to have to go through when he sits out and watches the game, and hopefully sees the kind of pace he needs to play at and sees the kind of physical involvement, the price he needs to pay, and I’m sure that’s why Claude made this decision.”

Asked for a particular criticism on Seguin’s game, Milbury said: “I think he’s way too comfortable. I’m not talking about being a Shawn Thornton fighter or a [Brad] Marchand-type hitter, but he’s got to get involved physically. He’s got to scrum for loose pucks, he’s got to brush a body on the way by. Right now, he’s a circler. He circles forward and he circles back. There’s got to be a little more stop-and-go to his game and a little more determination.”

Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli acknowledged Tuesday that it’s likely the Bruins will make a move in an effort to bolster the roster following the loss of Marc Savard. Milbury is not surprised. “If the Bruins feel that they’re in the position to take a swing at a Stanley Cup, then much like Chicago last year, they have to throw everything at it,” he said.

The other big Bruins news of the past week was Danielle Paille‘s four-game suspension for his hit on Dallas’ Raymond Sawada on Thursday. Following the game, Andrew Ference spoke out about the hit. Milbury was among those who criticized Ference for speaking out against a teammate.

“I agree with Andrew Ference. This was a play that was worthy of suspension, and this was something that the league quickly acted on and did suspend the player,” Milbury said, adding that he was surprised Paille didn’t get more than four games. “I don’t have any trouble with him going to Danny Paille and discussing the issue with him. I don’t have any trouble going to his player rep and discussing it with him. I don’t have any trouble having a discussion in the locker room with any of those guys or the coaches or the manager. But it’s not his role, it’s just not his role to pontificate about this thing in the media.”

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Read More: Andrew Ference, Danielle Paille, Matt Cooke, Mike Milbury
Mike Milbury on D&H: Bruins will be very conservative with Marc Savard 01.26.11 at 1:00 pm ET
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NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury gave his thoughts on the Marc Savard situation, after news broke Wednesday morning that Savard went home to Ontario to rest his head.

“With the two hits that he took recently, and now this reaction, I think long term is the way it’s going to be,” Milbury said. “Whether they do it officially or not is I guess another matter to discuss. Either way, they’re going to have to handle this one very delicately. We all know the concussion thing is a huge concern these days and a huge topic of discussion in the NHL. So, I think the Bruins will handle this one very conservatively.”

Milbury said people who want to remove the instigator penalty are barking up the wrong tree. “Does anybody really think that being able to go up and smack somebody in the head with his fist without the guy being ready is a really good thing for concussion prevention?” he said. “I just don’t get it when I hear the argument about the instigator penalty. You want to fight somebody, who cares about the two minutes? Just take the two minutes. But you’ve got to leave the instigator penalty in, and we can stop talking about it, in my opinion.”

When co-host Dale Arnold said he disagreed, Milbury deadpanned: “I know you disagree with me, but if I come up and smack you in the head, you might change your mind. And I’m likely to do it if you continue along this path.”

Milbury was asked his opinion of David Krejci. “He doesn’t look like he’s reacting as quickly as he has in the past,” Milbury said. “And I can’t tell that this is the reason why, but listen, he had a severe concussion last year. It took Patrice Bergeron a full year and then some to come back from that. It takes a lot of guys a full year to come back from an injury. That could be it. His timing seems to be OK, his vision seems to be OK, but he just doesn’t have that sharpness to his game that you like to see. But otherwise, it’s the same Krejci. It’s just the pace isn’t where I think it’s been at in the past.”

Milbury also opined on Michael Ryder: “They signed him to be a goal-scorer. He’s not. He’s going to be a 20-plus goal-scorer. He’s not a physical presence. He and [Blake] Wheeler are in the same boat, as far as I’m concerned. They put some effort into the game, I think there’s more there.”

As for Milan Lucic and his lack of physical play this season, Milbury said: “I firmly believe that if he doesn’t bring that [physical] element to his game, he sells himself short and his team short. He was, as you remember, in his rookie year, changing games not with scoring lots of goals but with momentum-changing hits and an occasional fight. Those are almost as important as scoring goals. And he doesn’t bring that that often anymore. I know he’s being dinged up a little bit. ‘€¦ I’d like to see it a whole lot more often. I’d like to see it from the Bruins in general more often.”

Read More: Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Marc Savard, Michael Ryder
Mike Milbury on D&H: Problems loom for B’s if first line cannot improve 01.19.11 at 12:49 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports NHL analyst Mike Milbury made his weekly appearance on the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury said this is the best he’s seen Patrice Bergeron play. “[He’s] seeing the ice, quick to the puck, totally unafraid, does all the little things right, good on the draws, goes to the front of the net, sees the ice well ‘€” there’s nothing to not like about his game,” Milbury said.

The lack of production from the first line is a concern to Milbury. “[Nathan] Horton, [Marc] Savard and [Milan] Lucic have got to find a way to put points on the board,” he said. “They’ve been winning a whole bunch of games without a lot of support from those three guys. Listen, there’s no getting around, it’s their top line. And if your top line isn’t producing the way you expect it to, you’re going to run into problems sooner or later.

“The flip side of that is, because of the balance that they now have, they’re able to do it while the first line finds their rhythm.”

Of Horton, Milbury said. “He’s yet to get fully engaged in the game on a regular basis. By that I mean hustle to loose pucks, work really hard to get there. I’ve seen him fight and he can really go, so I know he’s not afraid. But the point is ‘€” and this is the common catchword ‘€” there’s got to be more urgency to his game. He’s got to want it more. He’s got to fight for loose pucks a little bit more. He’s got to be a little bit more reckless in his game. Until he gets that, his progress is going to be checked, in my opinion.”

Meanwhile, Milbury likes what he’s seeing from the fourth line. “The Bruins have as good a fourth line as there is in the game right now with [Brad] Marchand, [Gregory] Campbell and Shawn Thornton,” Milbury said. “[Campbell] plays hard every night. He’s a coach’s dream, because you know what you’re going to get shift after shift.”

As for Marchand, Milbury said: “He uses his assets, which are his feet, and a little bit of grit to get where he needs to go. ‘€¦ We talk about Horton and engaging and getting the most out of what you’ve got. Well, this kid is getting all of what he can give and then some.”

Looking at the Eastern Conference, Milbury said, “I still think Pittsburgh is the team to beat, and Philly second.”

As for the Bruins, “It’s still a team that I think has yet to hit its full stride,” Milbury said. “But things have changed now for the Bruins. [Tuukka] Rask is back in the picture, [Tim] Thomas is still playing incredibly well, the defense is starting to act like it can jump into the offense or produce when it comes to getting shots on goal, and you’ve got three lines, at least right now, that are playing I think well enough to win on most nights ‘€” and they are winning on most nights. If they can ever get that first line humming, they’ve got to be be a strong candidate to come out of the Eastern Conference.”

Read More: Brad Marchand, Gregory Campbell, Marc Savard, Mike Milbury
Mike Milbury on D&H: ‘Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise’ 01.05.11 at 12:52 pm ET
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NESN and NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury checked in for his weekly visit with the Dale & Holley show Wednesday to talk about the Bruins and the NHL. To hear the interview, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Milbury said the calls for Claude Julien to be fired during the Bruins’ recent slump were uncalled for. “I didn’t think it was fair,” Milbury said. “I mean, here’s a guy a year just removed a year from the Coach of the Year award and a team that was second overall in the National Hockey League, and I know the story of the collapse as well as anybody, but one game from the conference championship. Then he comes into this season and because of bumps in the road, all of a sudden it’s all his fault.”

Added Milbury: “I don’t think at any time did Peter Chiarelli have in mind that this was Claude Julien’s fault.”

Describing Julien’s coaching attributes, Milbury said: “I think he’s an honest, diligent coach who’s fair to his players. I think he’s a very even-keeled coach. He’s not a ranter or a screamer. I don’t think there’s as much room for that in today’s game with today’s player as there was in previous years. ‘€¦ I think he’s a good coach.”

Milbury has consistently preached that the Bruins need to give more playing time to Tuukka Rask because he is the obvious goalie of the future in Boston while Tim Thomas is toward the end of his career. In the past week, Rask was pulled after one period of a loss to the Sabres but inserted the following game and delivered in a 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs.

“I think they’ve been a little unfair to Tuukka Rask,” Milbury said. “I think they yanked the chance to be the No. 1 goaltender. And again, we’ve kind of gone through this before, but Thomas has been incredible. But Tuukka Rask is the future of this franchise in terms of goaltending. I don’t think he deserves to be given second-tier status or backup status. I would have thought they would have gone to two No. 1 goaltenders for a while. And I was happy he got back in net. I’ve been wanting to see more of Tuukka Rask, because I think down the line, they’re going to need him. It was a great sign that he bounced back. It was a great sign that they gave him an opportunity and a great sign that he bounced back.”

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Read More: Alexander Ovechkin, Mike Milbury, Sidney Crosby, Tuukka Rask
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