|Andy Brickley on D&C: Bruins ‘the best team in the NHL’||12.21.11 at 12:14 pm ET|
NESN analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance on the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning with guest hosts Dale Arnold and Bob Ryan for his weekly discussion the Bruins.
The Bruins are the Eastern Conference leaders after winning 19 of their last 22 game. While they only hold a one point edge on the Flyers, the Bruins man handled the Flyers in a 6-0 win last Saturday, taking complete control over the East. The Bruins are in the middle of a five-day break right before the holiday season, giving Brickley and guest D&C hosts Bob Ryan and Dale, plenty to talk about before the Bruins get back in action against the Panthers on Friday. Brickley told the hosts that he thought the Bruins are currently playing better than any other Eastern Conference team.
“They certainly are right now, I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Brickley said. “You can point to all the statistics and numbers you want, but just give it the eyeball test and watch this team play. I guess the simplest way to look at it is as a collection of six defensemen, four lines, two goaltenders, the matchups that the Bruins get because of that depth and balance makes them the better team on most nights. And when you have that believability because you’re Stanley Cup champions — which was really the only element missing, I thought, from a pretty confident team over the last couple of years despite some serious playoff dramatic defeats — that once they became champions, that learning to win was embedded in them. And that’s how they play now. And if you combine those elements, yeah, they are the best team in the NHL, as we speak.”
Brickley chalked up the Bruins’ early season struggles as purely an emotional battle that veterans hadn’t dealt with before.
“They couldn’t get the emotional needle to where it needed to be,” Brickley said. “I think people were well aware of that within the organization, players included, that that was going to be the toughest task. I think you saw the younger players not have a problem with it as much as the older players, the established players, the guys that maybe had not won a Stanley Cup and now were finally champions. To understand where they needed to be emotionally game in and game out and to have to do it just a couple of months after doing it to the middle of June and try to do it in October was more difficult than anybody realized, myself included.
“I didn’t expect them to start 3-7. I thought at worst-case scenario maybe a .500 team through the first four or five weeks of the season, which would have been fine with me. But I got a little concerned at 3-7. When I heard players like Tim Thomas and Milan Lucic say, ‘You know, we’re not that far off,’ you look at the game tape and you break it down and you say maybe they’re right, what’s missing? And it was that emotion, that physical engagement that comes with the emotion of being involved in a game was the only thing that was lacking. And they found it.”
|Peter Chiarelli: ‘If I could find another Milan Lucic, I’d be very pleased’||12.19.11 at 8:49 pm ET|
Bruins fans can rest easy.
The team’s general manager made it clear Monday night he’s not about to change the way he builds his roster based on a one-game suspension of one of his higher profile players.
Peter Chiarelli said Monday he understands what Brendan Shanahan was doing by handing out a one-game suspension for Milan Lucic for the hit-from-behind on Zac Rinaldo on Saturday in Philadelphia. There’s a history there with Lucic and the Bruins have skated from possible suspensions on transgressions from Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid in the last two weeks.
But not this time.
Still, Chiarelli wants to be clear. The Bruins will still be big and bad.
“It’s one game, for one thing, so I’m not going to react to that,” Chiarelli said minutes before the game Lucic missed with the Canadiens. “We went into the year with the new rule changes thinking that we were going to be a little more heavily scrutinized. We might have even played a heavier game in the playoffs, and, again, people were clamoring that we got away with stuff, and maybe we did, maybe we didn’t. But that’s the way we built the team, and I’m going to continue to build it that way.
“I mean, hey, if I could find another Milan Lucic, I’d be very pleased. I think everyone in the league would want a player like that. No, we won’t stray from how we built it, and we’ll continue to put the pieces in that have some character and have some toughness.
Chiarelli said he spoke with the top judge in the NHL operations office on Monday, getting the full explanation of the discipline.
“I talked to Brendan Shanahan today following his sanction on Milan, the one-game suspension, and what was explained to me was that when there have been incidents before with a player, they look at the whole body of work,” Chiarelli said. “I don’t know if it’s as strong as being a repeat offender, but he’s done stuff in the past, according to hockey ops, that go to his character reference when they’re looking at putting up punishment. Brendan didn’t say this, but if it was his first incident, I would think maybe he wouldn’t have been suspended. Brendan didn’t say that, but that’s my take on the whole thing.
“If you go back and see what Milan has done, to me, it’s pretty unremarkable, but they obviously look at everything.”
But Chiarelli, to his credit, did itemize the list of misdeeds that led up to Monday’s suspension.
“I think he got a suspension against [Maxim] Lapierre, he got the fine against Freddy Meyer, he got a warning on [Ryan] Miller, and this,” Chiarelli said. “I might have been missing one, but he didn’t get any other warnings. You wouldn’t know of warnings because, short of a fine, they don’t publicize that. I agree with the global objective of addressing player safety, and if the body of work means that now he’s in that, again, not ‘repeat offender,’ but the ‘repeat concerns,’ I guess, however you want to characterize it, then if that’s what it is, that’s what it is. Obviously I support the league’s attempt at addressing player safety.
“And I think Milan might have explained to you, and he actually, if you look at it closely, I feel that he has, he did change his game, so to speak, on that check. I thought he stopped skating. If you looked at his left arm going in, I thought he tried to lever him so that he could hit him in the crest, and I don’t think he hit him as hard as he normally does. Milan’s a guy who’s led our team in hits, I think, since he’s been here, and he’s very rarely been penalized with boarding, hit from behind ‘ the roughing stuff. He’s a clean player, and that’s what the law is now, so we’ll abide by it.”
|Bruins-Canadiens Live Blog: Brad Marchand increases lead||at 6:46 pm ET|
|Video: Brendan Shanahan explains Milan Lucic suspension, says history influenced decision||at 3:06 pm ET|
Courtesy of NHL.com, here’s the video of NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan breaking down Milan Lucic‘s one-game suspension. Shanahan says that the fact that Lucic is a repeat offender influenced the decision.
“While this hit is not particularly egregious, it is illegal,” Shanahan said of Lucic’s hit from behind on Flyers forward Zac Rinaldo. “However, the overriding factor in elevating this check from behind from a penalty on the ice to a suspension is his history of similar infractions, warnings and a fine.
|Bruins-Maple Leafs Live Blog: Milan Lucic scores second of the night||11.30.11 at 7:01 pm ET|
|Ryan Miller: Neck pain, not concussion from Milan Lucic hit||11.28.11 at 4:04 pm ET|
Over two weeks ago, Sabres goaltender Ryan Miller made headlines when he publicly complained after Bruins forward Milan Lucic charged into him in the first period of the Bruins Nov. 12 win. The hit was so hard that it knocked Miller’s mask off, and Miller was removed from the game after the second period.
The team said at the time that Miller had a concussion. Miller later revealed that the team released that information as part of a bid to get Lucic suspended.
But NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan did not suspend or fine Lucic, and Miller has yet to play in a game since the hit. On Monday, Miller was on the ice in Buffalo before practice taking some shots and said he hoped to return to regular practices soon. Miller also noted that he doesn’t think he suffered a concussion, saying it was more of a neck injury related to a disc problem.
“I feel good symptom-wise,” Miller told the Buffalo News. “It was more neck and something where I aggravated a disc in my neck pretty good and we had an MRI and CT-scan showing that which kind of backed that up and was the source of a lot of the tension and a lot of the discomfort.”
|Bruins-Sabres Live Blog: Headed to shootout||11.23.11 at 7:02 pm ET|