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Pierre McGuire: ‘Hated’ Bruins’ schedule to open season 10.23.14 at 2:12 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB in advance of Thursday night’s Bruins matchup against the Islanders. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

The Bruins got off to a slow start to the season — going 1-3 in their first four games, but McGuire said some of that was because of the way their schedule was constructed — playing those four games in a six-day span.

“I hated the way their season started, not the way they were playing, but the way the schedule was set up for them,” he said. “I think I talked to you guys about it, they almost had eight days where they had three games in four nights. That’€™s crazy stuff. Then, when you compound that with a [Monday] afternoon game at home after a Saturday night loss, that’€™s really hard. I’€™m not making excuses for them, but they are starting to settle into what team they want to be.”

He also noted the team was coming off of trading veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk to the Islanders, just prior to the regular season.

“I think they were all a little stunned about Johnny Boychuk being traded to the Islanders because he was an extremely popular guy on their team,” said McGuire. “They started the season without Gregory Campbell, he’€™s a very important guy on that team. I think they are feeling their way through, but they are starting heat up. I liked their game the other night against San Jose, especially the last parts of that game.”

The Bruins and Boychuk will be reunited Thursday night as the Islanders will be at TD Garden. Boychuk has had a strong start to the season, posting two goals and four assists over the first six games.

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Read More: Gregory Campbell, Johnny Boychuk, Pierre McGuire, Torey Krug
Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins ‘going to be a ton of fun to watch’ 10.09.14 at 1:52 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his first weekly appearance of the season Thursday on Middays with MFB, following Wednesday night’s Bruins opener. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

McGuire said there is reason to believe the Bruins, who opened with a 2-1 victory over the Flyers, will be able to overcome the losses of Jarome Iginla and Johnny Boychuk and put together a season similar to 2013-14, when they had the best record in the NHL before falling in the second round of the playoffs to the Canadiens.

“They have a healthy Chris Kelly, I think that makes a big difference,” McGuire said. “Carl Soderberg is a ton better, you saw that last night. I think Loui Eriksson will be a ton better this year. Dougie Hamilton, even though he had a couple of turnovers, you could see when he really amped his game up he was very good. Having Dennis Seidenberg back makes them better. Tuukka Rask is a year more mature.

“I think they’re a lot better in a lot of areas. I think they’re the best team in the Eastern Conference. I’m not changing on that; I won’t change even when we’re on Game 40, barring injuries, obviously. I think this team is extremely good.

“I like the energy of a young player like Craig Cunningham. I love the energy of Bobby Robins. They obviously got last night done without David Krejci and Gregory Campbell. This is a really good team. They’re really a good team, and they’re going to be a ton of fun to watch.”

McGuire said he saw lots of promising things from the opener.

“I thought Tuukka when he had to be was really good,” he said. “I thought Kevan Miller played a solid, physical game. I like the way Torey Krug started to jump into the rush. And I like the way that the Bruins defensemen really held the offensive blue line. And probably more importantly than anything else they’re much more aggressive offensively. I know it didn’t translate because I thought Steve Mason from Philadelphia played a great job so the scoreboard’s not indicative of that. But by and large they’re a much more aggressive offensive team, and I think that’s really important for them.”

Looking at the Eastern Conference, McGuire said the Bruins’ biggest challenge might come from the Lightning.

“I think Tampa Bay’s a very good team, and I know a lot of people are talking about them, but I would look out for the Tampa Bay Lightning. I would be a little bit nervous about them,” McGuire said. “It’s going to be interesting to see how everything translates in Pittsburgh, because it is a little bit of a different roster, it’s a different coaching philosophy going from Danny Bylsma to Mike Johnston. So we’ll see how that plays out. … I don’t know if there’s a team outside of Tampa and maybe Pittsburgh that’s going to be able to play and have enough depth to play against Boston. Boston’s just that good. Montreal’s really good, I just don’t know if they’re big enough to play against Boston when Boston’s healthy. Boston’s a really, really good team.”

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Read More: Carl Soderberg, Johnny Boychuk, Peter Chairelli, Pierre McGuire
Pierre McGuire on M&M: Jarome Iginla likely will ‘want to stay in Boston’ 05.22.14 at 2:15 pm ET
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NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the upcoming offseason for the Bruins and the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Bruins will enter this offseason with 11 free agents (five unrestricted, six restricted). One of Boston’s biggest decisions over the coming months will be what to do with Jarome Iginla, who is set to hit the open market. Iginla tied for the team lead in goals with 30 and fit in perfectly with Boston’€™s first line of Milan Lucic and David Krejci.

However, concerns have been raised over both Iginla’€™s age (he will turn 37 on July 1) and the price that it would take to bring the future Hall of Famer back.

“The last time I talked to Jarome was right before Game 7 and I thought he was doing great. He just loves being in Boston,” McGuire said. “€œHe really enjoyed his teammates, really enjoyed playing with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, so that’€™s No. 1. No. 2, I think that you can get him signed to a deal, and I think the Bruins probably want to get him signed to a deal. He did a really good job. There will be a marketplace for him, but I have to think he’€™ll want to stay in Boston.”

Another difficult decision this summer will revolve around the whether or not to bring back Shawn Thornton, who has been a mainstay on the Merlot line for seven season in Boston.

“A team like Calgary would definitely have interest [in Thornton]. You have to have a previous relationship with a player like Shawn to know his actual value to the organization, especially behind closed doors. So I think that’€™s something that plays to Shawn’€™s favor,” McGuire said. “But I would caution Shawn on this. He’€™s had a tremendous career. He’€™s made a lot out of nothing because he’€™s worked so hard to get there. … He’€™s a Bostonian.

“Even though he’€™s from Ontario and he’€™s played for a lot of other teams, he’€™s a Boston guy. He’€™s a Boston Bruin. That’€™s how he should be remembered. I just hope he wouldn’t do it as a short-term deal, because I don’€™t think he has more than another year left to play. I would hate to see him leave and not be remembered as Boston Bruin, because that’€™s what he is.”

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Read More: Jarome Iginla, Montreal Canadiens, Pierre McGuire, Rangers
Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins’ bad start ‘carried over to most of the rest of the game’ 05.16.14 at 12:49 pm ET
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NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to break down the Bruins’ 3-1 season-ending loss to the Canadiens in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Bruins found themselves in trouble from the start in Game 7, after noticeably poor execution led to a quick Dale Weise goal to give the Habs a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.

“It started with a bad turnover by Matt Bartkowski, we showed it on television. That puck has to be in deep,” McGuire said. “I know it’€™s a simplification and people are probably saying, ‘What does that have to do with it?’ It had a lot to do with it, because you had all your forwards expecting to shoot it, and they don’€™t get back in time. Montreal makes a really smart move and Brandon Prust wins a footrace and gets it to Danny Briere, who eventually gets it to Weise, because Bartkowski’€™s looking at the puck.”

McGuire told Mut & Merloni on Wednesday that Game 7’s first goal would be significant, and he was proven right by the outcome of the game.

“I told you guys the other day the first goal was going to matter. The Bruins were never able to get it back on the rails,” he said. “Now, give Carey Price some credit, and the Bruins also didn’t have a lot of puck luck, but that was a bad start and it carried over to most of the rest of the game.”

McGuire said he could tell from his spot between the benches that the Bruins seemed deflated by the early goal.

“The coaches were pretty vocal, but not a negative way, a positive way, and Shawn Thornton was extremely vocal,” he said. “Outside of that it was a pretty quiet bench.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Bruins, Canadiens, Pierre McGuire,
Pierre McGuire on M&M: Game 7 referee Dave Jackson ‘will blow his whistle a lot’ 05.14.14 at 12:54 pm ET
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NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals between the Bruins and Canadiens at TD Garden. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

While Monday’s 4-0 Game 6 win never seemed in doubt for the Canadiens, the Bruins set a physical tone with a scrum, which appeared to come out of frustration, at the end of the game, something that came as little surprise to McGuire with a deciding game upcoming.

“You’€™re trying to plant the seed doubt, no question about that,” he said. “I was a little surprised it didn’t take place with about eight minutes to go. In fact, I may have mentioned to [play-by-play announcer] Kenny Albert in the last 10 minutes that there would be more shenanigans.

“€œThat’€™s just the way it works. It’€™s a long series, it’€™s a hard series, it’€™s a rivalry series. Boston has one significant advantage over Montreal: They’€™re most robust, they’€™re bigger. That’€™s just the reality, you can’€™t argue with it. Play to your advantage.”

Whether or not the Bruins will be allowed to play their physical style in Game 7 may depend on the officiating. Wednesday night’s referees will be Dave Jackson and Dan O’Rourke — who previously officiated the Bruins’ Game 2 victory that included B’s coach Claude Julien picking up a bench minor — while Shane Heyer and Brad Kovachik will be the linesmen.

“Dave Jackson will blow his whistle a lot,” McGuire said. “He’€™s called [games] by the letter of the law — now, only on stick infractions; hooking, holding and that stuff. He lets you play physical, chest to chest, shoulder to shoulder. … Dan O’€™Rourke is the best skating official in the league right now and he keeps up with the play very well. He will not be a whistle-blower.”

The team that has scored first in each game this series has won the game, something that McGuire believes will be equally important on Wednesday, especially with it being a Game 7.

“In the last 19 Game 7s, 17 times the first goal has won, and the only time we had a deviation was in the first round where Colorado scored the first goal against Minnesota, and San Jose scored the first goal against Los Angeles in Game 7,” he said. “That’€™s the only two deviations we’ve had. … That’€™s pretty significant.”

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Read More: Bruins, Canadiens, Game 7, Mut & Merloni
Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Montreal doesn’t have an answer for Carl Soderberg’ 05.12.14 at 2:57 pm ET
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NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to discuss the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Bruins and Canadiens. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Bruins took a 3-2 series lead on Saturday by defeating the Canadiens by a score of 4-2 in Game 5 at TD Garden. Four skaters scored for Boston, while Tukka Rask recorded 31 saves in the contest.

“€œThe Boston Bruins played a tremendous game. They had a good start, they had tremendous supplemental offense from the third line, which Montreal doesn’t have an answer for, with Carl Soderberg, Matt Fraser and obviously Loui Eriksson,” McGuire said. ‘€œTheir penalty killing was very solid until the P.K. Subban ripper.

“I thought, quite frankly, that it was Boston playing a very good game and Montreal not playing up to their normal level because Boston didn’t allow it.”

Soderberg was particularly impressive in Boston’€™s last game, scoring his first goal of the postseason and adding two assists in the win. McGuire said that Soderberg’€™s size and playmaking ability has caused problems for Montreal throughout this series.

“€œAs a smaller team, Montreal doesn’t have an answer for Carl Soderberg,” McGuire said. “If you’re going to win a series, you need to have an X-factor player — someone that doesn’t get canceled out. The X-factor player so far in this series has been Carl Soderberg.”

Added McGuire: “Montreal doesn’t have an answer size-wise and skilled-wise for the depth of the Boston Bruins lineup. That’€™s the biggest issue that’€™s haunting them.”

Boston has the tall task of eliminating Montreal in the Habs’€™ home, the Bell Centre. The Canadiens posted a 23-13-5 record during the regular season and sit at 3-1 this postseason when playing in the friendly confines of their home arena.

“€œ[The Bruins are] a different team when they play here,”€ McGuire said. “€œThey play a much smarter brand in terms of penalty management. … They play a more physical, attacking style in Boston, they’€™re really comfortable playing and they want to provide that for their fans. When they go on the road, they want to take the crowd out of it and I thought they did a really great job in Game 4 in taking the crowd out of it and taking P.K. Subban out of it.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more on the Bruins, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

On the potential return of Dennis Seidenberg in the Eastern Conference finals: “I had a really nice visit with Dennis on Saturday night before the game. I would say that there’s a very good chance, if the Bruins were to progress, that he would be back for that next round.”

 On what Matt Fraser has brought to the third line over the last two games: “[He brings] better board play and the ability to maintain a cycle and dominate the defense and put duress on Carey Price because of that cycle play. … He can shoot the puck. He can shoot the puck from in tight and elevate it or he can shoot the puck from about 20 feet and get it there with a lot of velocity, so that makes a difference.”

On Shawn Thornton spraying Subban with water during Game 5: “As soon as the play was blown dead, I saw that [Subban] was angry and that there was some water on his visor. … Obviously, it was Shawn. He pays a price, he pays the fine. … I don’€™t think it’€™s that big of a deal, quite frankly.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Carl Soderberg, Matt Fraser, Montreal Canadiens
Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘much more disciplined on the road’ 05.06.14 at 12:37 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire of NBC Sports joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to discuss the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Bruins and Canadiens. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

The Bruins evened up the series in dramatic fashion on Saturday, as the team rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period en route to a 5-3 victory in Game 2 at TD Garden.

“€œIt was like Game 2 of Detroit and Boston, too, exactly what Boston had to do,” McGuire said. “Sometimes it takes a little while to warm up to a series, and it took the Bruins a little while to warm up to the Detroit series and they clearly did that in Game 2 and never lost another game in the series. I thought that Boston really warmed up to this series after losing in double overtime in Game 1. €œIt takes a little while.

“They’€™re into it, they’€™re fully engaged now, and they’€™ll have to be because that will be a raucous crowd in Montreal tonight and Thursday night won’€™t get any easier.”

The Bruins once again struggled with maintaining their composure in Game 2. The Canadiens made use of six power-play opportunities in the contest, with two goals coming on the man advantage.

“It’€™s easier to say and harder to do,”€ said McGuire, adding: “It’€™s really difficult to talk about it and you keep getting hit over the head all the time with it, and I think there was some frustration because they were getting chances. … It’€™s all difficult stuff, but I think they’€™ll find their way. The one thing I know about this team, when they’€™re home, it’€™s one thing, because they want to please their fans so badly. … But the other thing, when they go on the road, I find them to be much more disciplined on the road than they are at home.”

It was not just the Bruins skaters getting penalized by the referees in Game 2, as Bruins coach Claude Julien was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the final minutes of the second period.

“It started early on in the game and I can tell you, he was really upset with [official] Scott Cherrey on an offside that he thought wasn’t an offside,” McGuire said. “Then it carried over to the second period, he didn’t like some of the calls going against his team, but it was nothing out of this world. It was nothing crazy. Trust me, I hear it all. It wasn’t anything nuts. And then, I don’€™t know what happened.”

Added McGuire: “€œI did not hear him say anything derogatory. I thought it was something that happened on the ice. I don’€™t know how [official] Dave Jackson heard anything from where he was standing from the Bruins bench, because it was definitely loud at that point in the game and when you’€™re on the ice, you’€™re down low. Unless you’€™re really scrutinizing, there’s no possible way you can hear anything.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Eastern Conference Semifinals, Game 2
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