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Pierre McGuire on D&C: Bruins ‘unbelievably resilient’ 06.24.13 at 12:29 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday morning to give his thoughts on the Patrice Bergeron injury, Zdeno Chara’s play and the first impression of Carl Soderberg.

Bergeron, who left Game 5 with a “body injury,” did not participate in the morning skate prior to Game 6 Monday night. However, if Bergeron is unable to play, McGuire said he thinks that the Bruins can have success without their assistant captain.

“They can come back from it,” McGuire said. “It’s a big loss, but they can come back from it. This is one of the most resilient teams I have seen in the last seven years in the NHL. They are unbelievably resilient. So they can overcome it. It won’t be easy. I think everybody knows that. But I could see them overcoming it. This is where your core leadership steps in. This is where Dennis Seidenberg and Zdeno Chara, Milan Lucic take it to another level and everybody else follows.”

While Bergeron did not participate in the morning skate, McGuire said that it is a good sign for the Bruins that the 28-year-old center took the flight back from Chicago to Boston between games, because that may eliminate the idea that he suffered an internal injury.

“If you have a punctured lung, if you have a lacerated spleen, if you have any kind of internal — and this is from talking to doctors; I’m not a doctor but I’ve talked to doctors about it — if you have any type of internal injury like that or the potential for a punctured lung, they can’t put you on an aircraft,” McGuire said. “It’s just too dangerous. The fact that he was able to get on an aircraft and fly back home, I think that is positive more than negative.”

Without Bergeron and his defensive skill in the lineup, it puts more work on the shoulders of Chara, who has struggled in recent games. Chara is minus-5 in the last two games despite recording a goal and two assists in the process. McGuire said that Chara’s struggles are a result of good strategy from Chicago.

“You want to make the bigger person go back and get the puck,” McGuire said. “You want to put some physical pressure on him. You want to get him out of his comfort zone. If Zdeno Chara is allowed to get into a comfort zone, he can dominate a game. So Chicago has done the right thing by attacking him.

“The guy that has made probably the biggest difference on that has been Brian Bickell. Again, in-series adjustments by Chicago and Joel Quenneville by putting [Patrick] Kane and [JonathanToews together, but also putting Bickell on that line and creating a snow plow effect so that that big body can go around and start bouncing some Bruins players.”

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘a very, very difficult team to play against’ 06.18.13 at 1:14 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to dissect the Bruins’ 2-0 victory in Monday’s Game 3.

The B’s frustrated the Blackhawks by limiting Chicago’s scoring opportunities.

“First of all, [the Bruins] were really doing a good job controlling the puck and controlling the neutral zone and dictating the terms of the game, that’s No. 1 and 2,” McGuire said. “I think the third thing they did, obviously, is they were able to get last change, so they had the matchups they wanted. Not having Marian Hossa in the lineup for Chicago really hurt them in terms of manufacturing offense. … That’s a big loss for Chicago; that’s not Boston’s fault.

“And then for both teams, the ice conditions. Tuukka Rask alluded to it when I interviewed him, and Dennis Seidenberg and I talked about it after the game. The ice conditions were not good. I could tell in the morning they weren’t going to be good because of the humidity in the city of Boston yesterday. There’s not a building in the league that would have had good ice yesterday, just because of the humidity. You’ve got to hope it cools off.

“But Boston’s doing exactly what they did to Pittsburgh: They’re killing the stars. Look at the hits on Jonathan Toews. They’re just crushing him. Hey, that’s all fair game in hockey. That’s part of the sport.”

McGuire also praised the Bruins defense and noted: “You add in the Patrice Bergeron factor and the faceoff-winning factor for the Bruins, and they’re a very, very difficult team to play against.”

McGuire noted that the Blackhawks’ comeback in Game 1 might have come at a cost.

“The one thing I’ll you that I don’t think is getting talked about enough: The wear and tear of Game 1, the three overtimes, I think it took a lot more out of Chicago, even though they won, compared to what it took out of Boston. I really do,” he said.

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘played with the heart of a champion’ 06.13.13 at 8:08 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals and the ramifications of the Bruins’ marathon loss going forward.

Sure, the 4-3, triple-overtime loss was disappointing, McGuire said, but the Bruins don’t have much reason to be down on themselves going into Saturday’s Game 2.

“Boston played with the heart of a champion, and I don’t expect it to be anything different [the rest of the series]. It could be a long, hard series,” McGuire said. “I saw so many positive things from the Bruins. I saw a lot of positive things from the Blackhawks. These are the two best teams. There’s no Cinderella here. Both of these teams deserve to be in the Stanley Cup final.”

What will be interesting is when the series shifts back to Boston for Game 3 Monday and the Bruins get the last line change before the game time. McGuire suspects Claude Julien will match up Patrice Bergeron’s line with that of Jonathan Toews, and David Krejci’s unit with Michal Handzus.

Speaking of Bergeron’s line, McGuire also said Tyler Seguin is a likely candidate to play with Krejci and Milan Lucic should Nathan Horton be unable to play. Horton left Game 1 during the first overtime and did not return.

McGuire also expects Seguin, who has five points (one goal, four assists) and is a minus-2 in 17 playoff games, to break out soon.

“He wants the puck. He wants to make a difference. His speed is very apparent, especially at ice level,” McGuire said. “For those that weren’t at the morning skate [Wednesday], everything he shot went in. It was unbelievable watching him in practice. He was letter perfect with his passing and shooting. His skating is great. I just get the feeling he’s about the break out, I really do.”

McGuire gave much credit to goalies Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford, even calling Crawford “superhuman” in the first overtime,” and said while Torey Krug’s crucial, third-period turnover was quite unfortunate, the defenseman can bounce back, just as the Bruins can.

“It’s a tough situation for a young player, an undrafted player, to go into the Stanley Cup finals,” McGuire said. “It was an egregious turnover. Obviously it ends up in the back of the net. Nobody wants to see that.

“But I thought he got better as the game went along. I know they weren’t afraid to use him in overtime, and he had some good chances. They used him on the power play, too, with [Dennis] Seidenberg. He’s a young player. He’s going to grow. I think he’ll be better off with the experience. Was it his best game? No. Was it a terrible game? No. He just made one bad mistake.”

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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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Zdeno Chara’s presence ‘mammoth in a series like this’ 06.10.13 at 1:38 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Monday to preview the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.

The B’s and Blackhawks have a number of similarities, but McGuire said no other team has someone who can compare to Zdeno Chara.

“They’re similar in a lot of different respects,” McGuire said. “They’re similar in terms of their star power through the middle. They’re similar in terms of their size and their speed on the wings. They’re similar in terms of veteran experience in goal — or lack thereof. They’re similar in terms of their depth on defense. Chicago’s left defense [Duncan Keith, Johnny Oduya and Nick Leddy] is much faster than Boston’s left defense. That’s a key part of the Chicago team. But nobody outside of Boston has Chara. That is mammoth in a series like this.”

Added McGuire: “Chara’s made a huge impact on these playoffs, as he usually does, and he’s made a huge impact especially in the last series.”

Another similarity is the fact that both teams have an agitator who has some talent: Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw. Of Shaw, McGuire joked that Bruins fans “are going to learn to love him quick.”

“Like Marchand, Shaw has tremendous offensive skill. … He’s not a guy that’s just a super pest. He’s a player. He’s a real player,” McGuire said. “He’s very similar to Marchand. I don’t know if his top-end skill is as good as Marchand; in fact, I would say it’s not. But his pest factor is as high if not higher. He’s fearless, absolutely fearless. Tremendous player. There’s not a team in the league that wouldn’t want this player.”

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Penguins ‘were stunned more than quit’ 06.04.13 at 12:07 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to break down the Bruins’ 6-1 victory over the Penguins in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals.

The Penguins have been the harder-hitting team in the first two games, but the Bruins have dominated on the scoreboard. McGuire said the Pens are making the same mistake they did a year ago, altering their style to try to match a more physical opponent.

“They didn’t learn their lesson from last year against Philadelphia. They tried to do the same thing with Philadelphia last year and they got banged out,” McGuire said. “You saw the frustration with [Sidney] Crosby, you saw the frustration with [Evgeni] Malkin, you saw the frustration with [Kris] Letang. You’re seeing a lot of the same stuff right now.

“[Penguins general manager] Ray Shero tried to address it. That’s why he brought in Brenden Morrow, that’s why he brought in Jarome Iginla, that’s why he brought in Jussi Jokinen, that’s why he brought in Douglas Murray — older players that can maybe stabilize situations if there were negative times in a playoff run. It hasn’t worked so far in this round. We’ll see.

“This is my one caveat to everybody: I did the last series between Detroit and Chicago, and there was so much frustration on the Chicago side of things [when the Blackhawks were down 3-1] it was unbelievable. They were melting down before everybody’s eyes. And then they just role-reversed it and eventually won the series. Anything can happen. But the Bruins have really earned to be in this position. They really merit where they are right now.”

While the Penguins have shown a lack of focus and discipline, the Bruins appear to be playing with more intensity.

Said McGuire: “There’s a heart there, there’s a soul there. There’s a Bruin passion. … There’s a lot to be said about the character of the city of Boston, about the players that represent the city of Boston and about the fans that go to the games there and watch the games. There’s a lot to be said. I think emotion matters a lot in our sport, and there’s a lot to be said about ‘Boston Strong.’ ”

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins need to goad Penguins ‘into a street fight’ 05.31.13 at 12:09 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to talk about Saturday’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.

McGuire agreed with a suggestion from studio guest Lyndon Byers that the Bruins should try to take the Penguins out of their game by being physical.

“Absolutely, if I were Boston that’s all I’d be talking about, it turning it into a street fight early,” McGuire said. “I would take a page out of what Philadelphia did to Pittsburgh last year. They didn’t play nice with Pittsburgh, and Pittsburgh decided that they didn’t want to play nice and it got them out of their offense and their free flow and their attack game. It got them thinking more about retribution than about scoring goals.

“If I were Boston, that’s exactly what I’d try to do. Because that’s the one thing they have — Boston, that is — that a lot of teams in the league don’t have. They have four lines that can play. They have four lines that can bring some physical dimension. And they have four lines that can contribute offensively. But the one through four physical part is huge.”

Added McGuire: “If Boston can play a nasty game without taking penalties and goad Pittsburgh into getting off their game, that’s huge. And if Pittsburgh doesn’t retaliate and Boston gets a lot of penalties called against them and their power play is as good as we’ve seen, Boston’s going to be trouble.”

Looking at the line matchups, McGuire said he expects the Patrice Bergeron line to go up against the Sidney Crosby line in a matchup of longtime friends.

“If I were betting money, I’d say Bergeron against Crosby,” McGuire said. “They’re real good friends. It goes back to the ’05 World Junior. Crosby played on a line with Corey Perry and Patrice Bergeron. It goes back to the World Championships; they played together. They played in the Quebec Major Junior League against one another.

“A lot of people don’t know this: These guys are so close, they went on snowmobiling trips together in the winter during All-Star breaks when they weren’t playing in the All-Star Game, or during the lockout. Just so you have an idea how close these guys are. They’re extremely, extremely close.”

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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Pierre McGuire on M&M: Pittsburgh ‘has an answer for the Bruins’ fourth line’ 05.29.13 at 1:00 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to preview the Bruins-Penguins Eastern Conference finals.

Boston’s fourth line of Daniel Paille, Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton came up big for the Bruins against the Rangers, playing key roles in Games 3 and 5. McGuire said Pittsburgh’s depth will negate that advantage.

“There was no answer from the Rangers for Boston’s fourth line. … Pittsburgh, I can tell you, has an answer for the Bruins’ fourth line,” McGuire said. ” Paille, Campbell and Thornton aren’t going to run around and dominate the way they did the Rangers. Because guys like Jussi Jokinen, guys like Joe Vitale, who played at Northeastern University, a kid out of St. Louis, guys like Craig Adams, who played at Harvard. You’re going to see, these guys can make a mess and they can put you through the boards as much as Thornton can, as much as Paille can, they can fight as much as Campbell can. That’s going to be the X factor that really helped the Bruins last series, it won’t be as much of an impact this series.”

Andrew Ference, who missed the entire Rangers series with what the Bruins called a lower-body injury, skated with his teammates at Tuesday’s practice. That’s let to discussion about which young defenseman the B’s might sit if the team wants to make room for the veteran. McGuire suggested the B’s might want to give Ference more time to recover fully.

“He’s walking around with a walking boot on, so clearly there’s a problem with the lower part of his foot or ankle,” McGuire said. “It’s not easy to come back from something like that at this time of the year. So, I don’t think they’re in a rush. And Andrew would probably be the first person to tell you: You know what, when a team’s playing as well as Boston’s playing, especially those players, you probably don’t take them out of the lineup.”

Another topic of discussion around the Bruins is whether the team should move Tyler Seguin back up to the second line in place of Jaromir Jagr.

“We saw what Jaromir could do in confined areas against the Rangers, and there were points in that series where he really wanted to take the puck over but he was overextending his shifts and you could see he was breaking down a little bit,” McGuire said. “Tyler, you could see, and I talked to Tyler a couple of times during the series, he was fighting it in terms of getting pucks in, but he was still making plays. I know he turned the puck over a couple of times. That’s going to happen with offensive players, you’re going to turn the puck over because they’re trying to make stuff happen with the puck. It’s the checkers that you can’t afford having them turn it over. Because they don’t do much with it. They chip it in and chip it out, and they usually don’t score a lot.

“Tyler will probably get augmented minutes. I’ve got to believe the coaching staff is seeing what we’re seeing, and that is that here’s a kid that’s got a chance to be a difference-maker, and his speed is going to be huge.”

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