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Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins’ message to Canadiens was, ‘You cannot beat us in a long series, because we will just wear you down’ 03.26.14 at 1:17 pm ET
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Andy Brickley

Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about the Bruins’ loss to Montreal, the upcoming Chicago game, Dennis Seidenberg and the Seventh Player Award. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The 12-game win streak came to an end on Monday against the Canadiens, but the Bruins were able to get a point as they forced overtime with a goal from Patrice Bergeron in the third period. Brickley wasn’t concerned with the physicality that the Bruins showed and thought they picked the right game to be that way.

“There was some undisciplined play by the Bruins, retaliatory in nature, throughout the course of the hockey game,” Brickley said. “But if there was ever a game on the schedule, that was the time to do it. I think it helps send a little bit of a subtle message, but still try to play the game, play the game to win, which I thought they did. It wasn’t about the streak, it was about continuing to play the right way, coming into their identity.”

Added Brickley: “If you’€™re going to play Montreal in a seven-game series, I think part of that message was, ‘€˜You can’€™t beat us. You cannot beat us in a long series, because we will just wear you down.’€™ ”

While the streak is over, the Bruins own the best record in the Eastern Conference. To Brickley, now is the time for them to start focusing on the postseason.

“€œYou hear it all the time, ‘Just one game at a time,’ and so on,” Brickley said. “€œBut they’re looking big picture given the position that they’ve put themselves in, and that’s a favorable one. … It’s really all about getting prepared for postseason, so results don’€™t take on as great a meaning as they normally would.”

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Thomas Vanek on why he dominates Bruins: ‘You want to play your best against the best teams’ 03.11.14 at 1:41 pm ET
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Thomas Vanek has 61 career points against the Bruins. (AP)

Thomas Vanek has 61 career points against the Bruins. (AP)

MONTREAL — The fact that Thomas Vanek has produced big-time against the Bruins in his career isn’t exactly a secret. Frequently referred to as a “Bruins-killer,” the 30-year-old winger has 30 goals and 31 assists for 61 points against the Bruins in 53 career games.

When that type of offense was being put up with the Sabres and Islanders (he had a goal and three assists in three games against Boston in his four-month stint with the Islanders), he was a nuisance for the Bruins. Now that he’s with the Canadiens after a deadline-day shocker, he could be a big problem.

On Tuesday, Vanek participated in his first practice with the Canadiens after playing in two games for them (zero points, minus-1 rating). After it, he downplayed his dominance against the B’s.

“I think numbers are numbers. Sometimes they’re overblown,” he said. “For me, I don’t prepare any different. It’s just another game, really. They’re a good team and you’ve got to be ready.”

While he shrugged off his statistics, Vanek did venture a guess as to why he always seems to have big games against Boston.

“The last four or five years, to me, Boston has been one of the better teams in the league,” he said. “You want to play your best against the best teams, but again, I think sometimes just the numbers are the numbers. I can’t really tell you why that is, but I can tell you that it’s a big game, it’s a great team and you want to play in big games.”

Vanek isn’t the only Canadien who performs well against the Bruins, as Montreal has taken both of the teams’ meetings this season and has won its last five games against Boston dating back to last season.

That doesn’t mean the Habs will take the B’s lightly, as the Bruins are a point out of first place in the Eastern Conference and are 7-0-3 in their last 10 road games.

‘€œFirst of all, the Bruins, this is a good hockey team,” Habs coach Michel Therrien said. “They are battling with Pittsburgh right now for first place in the conference and every game is a new challenge. Tomorrow is no different and it’€™s a huge challenge for us.’€

Vanek has played mostly with Tomas Plekanec and Brian Gionta in his two games for Montreal. Therrien really wants Vanek to be a fit with Plekanec, one of the better two-way centers in the league, so he intends to keep him on that line for as long as it takes for the trio to work.

With a pair of games for the Canadiens under his belt, Vanek is still looking for his first goal with the Canadiens. Wednesday night, in his first home game with the team and against the team he’s long dominated, would seem to be a pretty strong candidate.

Whether or not he gets that first goal Wednesday, the addition of Vanek has certainly changed the look of the Eastern Conference and has added more fuel to an already-intense rivalry.

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Claude Julien: Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell ‘cleared’ for practice, not games yet 09.11.13 at 1:02 pm ET
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Claude Julien speaks to reporters Wednesday at the opening of Bruins training camp in Boston. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

Claude Julien speaks to reporters Wednesday at the opening of Bruins training camp in Boston. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

On the first day of training camp, Bruins coach Claude Julien announced what would likely be considered good news by all Bruins followers.

Patrice Bergeron and Gregory Campbell both passed their conditioning drills and have been cleared for full practice with the team. Bergeron suffered a punctured lung, a broken rib, a separated shoulder and damaged cartilage at the end of the Stanley Cup finals in late June. Campbell suffered a broken right leg blocking a slap shot from Evgeni Malkin in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals.

“They’re going to practice with us, they’re going to be on the ice,” Julien announced Wednesday afternoon during his first full press conference of camp. “When it comes time to play those exhibition games, it’ll be obviously a conversation again with our trainers, making sure that if they’re going to play, there’s not a risk factor.”

The Bruins open their seven-game preseason next Monday night in Montreal against the Canadiens, and it’s unlikely either player would be ready to play, though Julien did leave some wiggle room on Wednesday.

“Right now, I would tell you that they would not be cleared to play a game if we started today but that might chance in the upcoming day or in a week from now,” Julien said. “They can practice with the team. It’s just about playing in an exhibition game.”

Julien also confirmed that everyone who took the conditioning test on Wednesday passed. Julien said he took the excellent conditioning of his team as a sign of where they’re at as a group.

“I don’t think I’m going to need time in camp to assess [conditioning or mentality],” Julien said. “I feel it right now. I think our group is in the right place. I like the feeling of our hockey club right now. These tests today just kind of solidified what I thought. Guys are in great shape. It would’ve been easy guys, after finishing so late, to just kind of shut ‘er down for the summer. But they’ve kept themselves in great and they look excited to get off to a new start here.”

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Offense comes back to life in 6-5 shootout loss 03.28.13 at 12:03 am ET
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Because six Bruins failed to beat Peter Budaj in a shootout, the clearest takeaway from the Bruins’ 6-5 loss to Montreal on Wednesday was another blown third-period lead. However, the reason the Bruins had a lead to blow was that the offense came alive for the first time in a week and half, with five different players scoring.

In their last five games before Wednesday, the Bruins had 10 goals (and one of those came in a shootout). Against Montreal, they knocked Carey Price out of the net with four goals in the second period and finished the game with 41 shots.

“It was nice to see us score some goals tonight,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “We’ve been a little dry lately, and we managed to score five, so that was nice to see.”

Perhaps it was a bad omen when Dougie Hamilton was the first Bruin on the board, as they’re now 0-4 when he scores. Still, Hamilton cut Montreal’s lead in half just 39 seconds after P.K. Subban had made it 2-0, and his goal sparked a momentum shift in the Bruins’ direction.

Patrice Bergeron’s line reappeared with a vengeance, recording a total of nine points between Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin. Each scored a goal, and Bergeron added three assists. Seguin had two and Marchand one.

That was especially encouraging for Marchand, as the second-chance goal he scored to tie the game at two was only his second in the last 12 games. After a shaky start to the game, Nathan Horton also broke a drought, scoring for the first time in six games and only the second time in the last 15.

The Bruins’ last two goals came on rushes, with perfectly timed passes through the slot, but their first three came from persistence on second and third chances. Despite being pulled after allowing four goals on 26 shots, Price made the Bruins work for their first three. They were equal to the challenge, winning races to rebounds and maintaining possession in the zone until they found clear shooting lanes.

Although Bergeron’s line, the Bruins’ most productive this year, ended up playing together by the middle of the game, they didn’t start the night that way. Julien started Daniel Paille with Bergeron and Seguin instead, and Marchand said the change, however brief, helped him.

“Maybe just to let me know I’ve got to simplify a little bit,” Marchand said. “At times, when you play with each other for a while, you start only looking for each other, and try to make pretty plays instead of doing things that work, which is keeping it simple and taking pucks to the net. And that’s what worked for us tonight.”

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Trade loss: With Jarome Iginla rumors swirling, B’s blow lead, lose shootout to Habs 03.27.13 at 10:37 pm ET
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Brad Marchand helped the Bruins erase an early 2-0 hole against the Canadiens. (AP)

Brendan Gallagher scored the decisive goal in the sixth round of the shootout as the Canadiens beat the Bruins, 6-5, in overtime Wednesday night at TD Garden. Gallagher also scored once in the third period before the Canadiens tied it with 8.2 seconds left in regulation. The Bruins had a pair of two-goal leads but couldn’t hold on, as they fell a point behind the Canadiens in the Northeast Division. The Bruins went 0-for-6 in the shootout while Gallagher was the only Canadien to score in six tries.

Patrice Bergeron scored a goal and added three assists while Tyler Seguin added a goal and two assists

With his team battling for the top spot in the Northeast Division six floors below, Bruins president Cam Neely went back and forth on the ninth floor, shadowed by security. This led to speculation about whether the Bruins might be ready to pull the trigger on a major trade for Calgary Flames star Jarome Iginla, who was scratched from his game Wednesday night, the first game the 35-year-old has missed since Feb. 2007.

For a second straight game, Claude Julien juggled his lines at the start before reverting midway through the game. And, for the second straight game against a division rival, the Bruins came out flat in the first period. They were held without a shot for the first eight minutes of the game.

With the exception of Seguin, the Canadiens generated most of the energy on the ice in the opening 20 minutes. It paid off for the visitors when former Bruin Michael Ryder got enough on a snap shot from the low slot and beat Tuukka Rask just 4:15 into the game for a 1-0 lead.

The Canadiens appeared to be in the driver’s seat when arch-nemesis P.K. Subban blasted a slap shot from the right point through a screen and past Rask 2:53 into the second period for a 2-0 lead.

Despite falling behind for the fourth straight game, the Bruins did not panic. And as they did on Monday, when they also fell behind by two goals at the start to the Maple Leafs, the Bruins woke up just in time.

It was a rush from Seguin that got things going 30 seconds after the Subban goal. Seguin came flying down the right wing and fired a shot off the crossbar. The puck came down in front of Bergeron. He couldn’t put it in the open net but Dougie Hamilton was in the right place at the right time and drilled a one-timer from between the circles past Price and the comeback was on.

Less than four minutes later, with Julien again rejoining his regular lines, Marchand netted the game-tying goal by battling for position in front of Price and knocking the puck past the Montreal goalie. Marchand, who started the game on the third line with Rich Peverley and Jordan Caron, was reunited with Bergeron and Seguin. It was Seguin who won the battle in the corner and fired the puck in front of the net for Marchand.

After Lars Eller hauled down Shawn Thornton on a rush down the left wing, the Bruins went on the power play. With 14 seconds left on the man advantage, Bergeron potted his 10th of the season to put the Bruins up, 3-2. The play was set up when Zdeno Chara fed Torey Krug, called up earlier in the day. Krug fired a shot from the right point. The shot deflected off Rich Peverley in front and onto the stick of Bergeron who finished it off.

With the Garden crowd still buzzing, David Krejci fed Nathan Horton on a mini-break and Horton beat Price 35 seconds later for a 4-2 lead. After spotting the Canadiens the game’s first three shots in the opening seven minutes, the Bruins outshot Montreal 26-8 and finished with a 26-11 advantage after 40 minutes.

Price was pulled in favor of Peter Budaj to start the third. Andrew Ference drew a hooking penalty and the Bruins had a power play but could generate little momentum. Then moments later, Ryder added his second of the night, drawing the Canadiens within one, 4-3, with just over 16 minutes still left in regulation.

With Hamilton in the penalty box for holding, Budaj kept the Canadiens in the game with a huge save on Gregory Campbell on a shorthanded breakaway with 10 minutes left. Seguin then gave the Bruins huge insurance with a backhander to beat Budaj with just over eight minutes left, putting Boston up, 5-3. The Canadiens made it a one goal game again as the Seguin goal was being announced as Brendan Gallagher got a lucky bounce off the mouth Dennis Sidenberg and beat Rask with 7:42 left. The Bruins killed off their first five shorthanded situations, including an elbowing call on Chara with 4:40 left in regulation.

But a delay of game on Aaron Johnson with 1:27 left, led to a 6-on-4 with Montreal’s empty net. A shot from Subban deflected off the stick of Chara past Rask with 8.2 seconds left to tie the game. Andrei Markov was credited with the goal The Bruins got a power play with 1:20 left in overtime when Alexei Emelin was called for a hooking penalty. Krejci had one final chance to win it but Budaj smothered the shot from the right circle two seconds before the end of overtime.

The Bruins are off Thursday and Friday before visiting Philadelphia for a matinee with the Flyers on Saturday. For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.

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P.J. Stock on D&C: ‘Everyone’s guilty’ of embellishing 03.06.13 at 10:08 am ET
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P.J. Stock

Former Bruin P.J. Stock of Hockey Night in Canada joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday to talk about how changes in hockey have led to more embellishment, and how he thinks an openly gay player would be received in the league.

There have been rumors around the web that Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges would be coming out this week, but according to You Can Play president Patrick Burke, who spoke with the Canadiens, they are untrue. Stock said that in general he thinks the league is ready for a gay player, but that he would have to worry more about taunts from opposing players and fans than about issues in his own locker room.

“I think there would be those jokes, to the opposition, which there are all the time,” Stock said. “In the locker room would be completely different. I think he would be respected and they would be positive jokes. You’re the same 20, 22, 23 guys for a year and you all learn about everybody’s flaws, your pros and cons, and you’re a big family. Yeah, it would be addressed, something that would be talked about, and yeah, you’re 20 guys that shower together all the time, so there’d be a couple jokes here and there, but that wouldn’t be the problem. I would love to see how it would work out, but the opposition is where you get into some situations where it would be interesting to see where other players react. … I hope there’s someone that steps out, I really do.”

On the topic of embellishment, Stock said he understands why Claude Julien was frustrated with the way penalties were called in the Bruins’ loss to Montreal on Sunday, but that the Canadiens don’t dive any more than any other team.

“Everyone does it,” Stock said of diving. “I don’t think any one team does it more than others. Now, there’s certain types of players that might do it more than others, so if you have more of those players on your team, therefore it might happen more often. But the Canadiens in general? I know P.K. Subban adds some flair to when he gets hit, but — I’m a huge Brad Marchand fan. You look at Team Canada, you look at players that can skate, players that have played big in big games — Brad Marchand’s an easy person not to pick, but I think if you’re really going to sit there and look at things, he does so much so well. But does Brad Marchand embellish? Yeah. You’re trying to sell something. … And Claude Julien knows that, and he’s frustrated about what happened the other night, losing [ZdenoChara out for 17 minutes, and they’re losing the game to his arch-rival, to the team that let him go years earlier. But … everyone’s guilty.”

Stock also pointed out that the value of a big hit or a big fight has changed within the game, and that instead of being momentum-changers, those moments are now cause for suspensions. He said he believes that’s why players embellish more now — getting their team a power play is more effective than getting into a fight.

“Goals are what change the game,” Stock said. “Every time there’s a big hit now, you’ve got to re-look at it 15 times to see, did he leave his feet, did he hit his head? And then there’s always some kind of altercation after it, it’s never just a big hit. The way you would change the momentum was you would increase the physical side of play, which would lead to checking, fights, get the crowd into it. Now, unfortunately, you can’t do that as much. Teams don’t have those kind of players and the game just doesn’t allow for it anymore. So the way you change the momentum is by trying to get a power play, which leads to those players embellishing, because how else do you get a power play?”

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Tuukka Rask takes the blame in the loss 03.04.13 at 9:55 am ET
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The shot that tied Sunday’s game at 3-3 appeared to be one of those helpless feelings for a goaltender. A long shot from the top of the slot, through a screen and the goalie couldn’t do much about until it was past him.

But when Tuukka Rask allowed Max Pacioretty‘s cannon of a shot to get past him five minutes into the third, he felt like that was on him.

“Obviously, you don’t want that to happen,” Rask said. “I take that third goal—that was a bad goal by me—but then a tough bounce on the fourth, and we couldn’t get back.

“I saw him kind of release it, and that’s all I need to know. I think I was just a little too sloppy. I wasn’t really ready for that shot, I guess, and it just went through me. Those are always the tough ones you want to get back.”

The fourth goal was a mad scramble that started out to the right of Rask and behind the net. The puck was poked out in front where David Desharnais easily pushed it into the open net.

“It didn’t hit me,” Rask said. “I think it hit Pacioretty when he screened me, and then I thought it would bounce in the corner, but then it just trickled on the side of the net. I dove in there, [Andrew Ference] dove in there, everybody dove in there, and then they found a guy on net and he just buried it.”

Both goals occurred with Chara looking on from the penalty box after taking his 17-minute penalty for sticking up for Tyler Seguin.

“You know what, I didn’t even realize he was in the box until I saw him coming out,” Rask said. “I was just focused on the game, I guess, but he makes a big difference, everybody knows it. He’s got that long reach and takes care of the bodies in front of the net. So, obviously, a big difference, yeah.

“We’re known as a team that, we stick for each other, and that was a pretty bad crosscheck there on Segs. Obviously, Z saw that and jumped in. We killed a penalty when it happened, but it sucks to lose him for 20 minutes or so.”

The lesson?

“I don’t think we played that bad in the third,” Rask said. “We got stuck out there for that third goal a bit, but that just happens sometimes. But then they get that tying goal, and the fourth one was just a tough bounce. I think after that fourth goal we were kind of wondering what the heck happened there. On a couple of shifts they got a two-on-one there and stuff like that. I think there’s been a couple of games in the past, too, where we’ve gotten the lead in the third and we don’t play the way we want to, but we just haven’t got caught with goals against us. But, today was different.”

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