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Tuukka Rask: ‘We gave them a couple of gifts’ 05.23.13 at 11:32 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask reacts in disgust after allowing game-winning goal in OT. (AP)

NEW YORK — It was the blooper that will live in infamy.

Tuukka Rask lost an edge and then his balance and fell over at exactly the wrong time, allowing Carl Hagelin to score and cut Boston’s 2-0 lead in half with 11:21 left in the second period. Hagelin shook off Johnny Boychuk just enough to flip a backhander on net that Rask would’ve normally turned aside without any fanfare. But he fell backward.

“I took a step to the side,” Rask explained. “There was what I think was a skate mark or something. That’s what it felt like. I lost my balance and the rest is history.

“Happens maybe twice a year in practice. Focus, got to be more focused, I think. Just a tough mistake. Looks pretty bad on TV. Just sloppy, I think. It kind of freezes you, and you still have a second to decide whether you’re going to scramble with the paddle down or just try to wrap your way around. Just awful.”

Rask was burned again on another bizarre goal when Derek Stepan stripped the puck from captain Zdeno Chara while Rask was still settling into his crease. Stepan wrapped around a shot into a vacated net and the game was tied 2-2, early in the third period.

“Nothing,” Rask said of what he saw on that goal. “We tried to wheel it [out of the defensive zone]. A guy surprised us and I couldn’t do anything, didn’t see anything. We gave them a couple of gifts, obviously. That’s, at the end of the day, what costs us a lot of energy, a couple of leads and the game.

“It’s a game of mistakes. Every team makes mistakes, every player makes mistakes and you just have to learn from them and move forward. I don’t think a couple of mistakes are going to make us a bad hockey team. It’s just what happens sometimes and you just have to shake it off and move on.”

The Bruins and Rangers would exchange goals, including the Bruins getting burned yet again for too many men on the ice in a playoff game. The game went to overtime before Chris Kreider finished a perfect pass from Rick Nash by netting the game-winner at 7:03 of extra time.

“I thought that was the best goal of the night for them,” Rask said. “That was a really good goal. A really good tip. I could’ve had it but I couldn’t get there. Can’t blame myself too much.”

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Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘far more prepared’ to win a closeout game vs. Rangers at 11:49 am ET
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Andy Brickley

NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to preview Game 4 of the Bruins-Rangers playoff series.

The Bruins are looking to close out the series with a sweep, but Brickley said he does not expect the Rangers to lay down.

“They’re not going to want to lose on home ice,” Brickley said. “They’re not going to want to go down four straight to this Bruins team. They want to force a Game 5. They absolutely have a lot of pride. They’re professional athletes. They’re a team that was expected to do something this year, and the opportunities are sliding away quickly. So, I expect them to bring their ‘A’ game, and I expected their goaltender to play as well as he did in Game 3.”

The Bruins are coming off an impressive win in Game 3, as they delivered a solid effort for 60 minutes and scored two third-period goals to pull out the win.

“The thing I loved about the Bruins in Game 3 was no Jekyll and Hyde persona that Claude [Julien] likes to talk about; far more consistent,” Brickley said. “The best measure is quality scoring chances given up, and you can count them on one hand against [Tuukka] Rask in Game 3. Even though they needed two goals in the third period, the Bruins were never in any real trouble despite the one goal that beat Rask through a whole bunch of bodies from a screen on that shot by [Ryan] McDonagh from the point.

“The only thing that concerned you a little bit was the scoring chances that they had in the first period and were unable to beat [Henrik] Lundqvist. But their mentality coming into the series was that’s what they expected from Lundqvist all along, even though they didn’t get it in Games 1 and 2. So, I think the Bruins mentally and emotionally were prepared for that kind of performance. And they just try to stay on the attack and play to their identity, which was to roll those four lines.

“What they’ve shown us in this series is incredible depth that they have. No [Dennis] Seidenberg, no [Andrew] Ference, no [Wade] Redden. You get [Matt] Bartkowski, [Torey] Krug and [Dougie] Hamilton, and that gives you a different dynamic to your team — that speed, quickness and mobility on the back end. But I think you also saw their depth in Game [3], with your fourth line and the matchups you get with that fourth line and how good they played, with experience and with familiarity and their forechecking game — simple, fundamental and effective. And they end up being difference-makers on the scoresheet.”

The Bruins’ lack of success in non-Game 7 closeout games over the past three years has been well-documented. Brickley said the B’s appear to be better equipped to provide a finishing touch Thursday.

“I still have memories of Game 5 on home ice against Toronto, up 3-1,” Brickley said. “The way [the Bruins] responded in Game 3 [vs. the Rangers] makes me think that they’re far more prepared — mentally, physically, emotionally — for a closeout game situation. They needed three closeout games to beat the Leafs. You hope it’s a lesson learned. I expect the Bruins, since they’ve found some consistency now in their game, that they’ll be far better tonight.”

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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Merlot Line leads Bruins to 3-0 series lead 05.21.13 at 10:11 pm ET
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Daniel Paille scored the game-winning goal as the Bruins took a 3-0 series lead over the Rangers with a 2-1 victory. (AP)

NEW YORK — The Bruins’ fourth line stole the spotlight from Henrik Lundqvist Tuesday night at Madison Square Garden as the Bruins came back in the third period to beat the Rangers, 2-1, and take a commanding 3-0 series lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

With the B’s trailing by a goal entering the third period, the Merlot Line produced goals in two if its first four third-period shifts, the latter of which yielded a funky go-ahead goal from Daniel Paille off a rebound that went off Lundqvist’s mask and stayed in the air for a good amount of time before landing on the door step. Johnny Boychuk produced Boston’s first goal (his fourth of the postseason) on a shot from the point that had to make its way through some traffic that was led by Shawn Thornton.

Tyler Pyatt redirected a shot past Tuukka Rask at 3:53 of the second period to give the Rangers the lead in the second period after the teams skated to a scoreless first. The goal came on a rather uncharacteristic shift for Patrice Bergeron on which he lost the faceoff and then was unable to get a clearing attempt out of the zone.

But that was the only harm done against Rask, who turned in his latest superb performance highlighted by a pair of big saves on Rick Nash in the third period.

The Bruins will have the opportunity to finish off the Rangers Thursday night at Madison Square Garden.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS Read the rest of this entry »

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Barry Pederson on D&C: Rangers’ shot-blocking style causing problems for Henrik Lundqvist 05.20.13 at 9:45 am ET
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Bruins defensemen Torey Krug (left) and Adam McQuaid battle Rangers forward Brian Boyle during Sunday's game at TD Garden. (AP)

NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to discuss the Bruins’ strong start to their series against the Rangers. Boston holds a 2-0 series lead following Sunday’s 5-2 victory.

The Bruins have been rejuvenated by the play of young defensemen Torey Krug, Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton.

“I think right now they’re showing some signs of [being a better team with the rookies], just because of the element that these three young kids have brought, which is mobility, speed, I think right now playing with a lack of fear, a lot of confidence,” Pederson said. “But you can really see it, to me, from their offensive side. What I mean by that, a lot of times throughout the year when the offense has been struggling, everybody always points at the forwards. And vice versa, when the defensive game is struggling, everybody always point to the defense. I’ve always been a firm believer that your defense creates your offense, and your forwards create your defense.

“So, these guys are doing a really good job, to me, by jumping into plays, recognizing when there are outnumbered opportunities to make it a three-on-two, a four-on-three. Hamilton did a good job of that yesterday as well as Bartkowski and Krug. For now they’re doing I think a really good job of creating some offense and … they are bringing a little bit of speed and mobility that maybe the Bruins have not had back there in a while.”

With the strong play by the rookies, it’s led to a discussion about what coach Claude Julien will do if and when injured veterans Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden are ready to return. Pederson said he does not anticipate a problem in the locker room.

“The guys recognize what this is all about, is trying to win hockey games,” he said. “It’s one of those problems that you love to have. … You can never have enough good, young defensemen, because they’re first of all hard to come by. And it’s a situation where these guys right now are playing this way. We’ll see how things go when you go into a more hostile environment in New York.”

Added Pederson: “I think if I had to look at how I would rank them, the rookies being taken out, starting with the first guy, I would probably take a look at Hamilton, it would probably go Krug, and then last would be Bartkowski to be removed from the lineup when and if they came back.

“If Redden was the first guy back, I’m not so sure if I would make a move quite yet. These guys have, I think, kind of earned an opportunity to continue. If it was Dennis Seidenberg who was healthy, there’s no doubt that he’s coming back immediately. I just don’t get a sense with Ference that he’s even that close, but again we don’t know anything about the injuries, so we’ll have to wait and see.”

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Pierre McGuire on M&M: With Bruins’ depth down middle, ‘I do think this is a team that can flip the switch’ 05.15.13 at 12:11 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire was a guest of the Mut & Merloni show Wednesday to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs.

McGuire said “only in youth hockey” has he seen a comeback like the Bruins’ miracle against the Maple Leafs in Monday night’s Game 7.

“I’ve never seen anything like that with 12 minutes or less to go in an NHL game — in a playoff game, a deciding Game 7,” McGuire said. “Never seen that before.”

McGuire said the tide started to turn in the Bruins’ favor when Tuukka Rask stopped Matt Frattin on a breakaway with 3:35 left in the third period and Toronto leading 4-2.

“Boston got urgent. Boston really felt better after Frattin missed the breakaway. You could see there was a huge surge after the save was made by Tuuka on Matt Frattin’s breakaway. And you could see the better players for the Bruins every other shift were starting to take over momentum,” McGuire said.

“So, it was a combination of Frattin misses the breakaway, Boston starts to amp it up, their star players really start to amp it up and they get the feel. Then all of a sudden they put the lunar eclipse in front of James Reimer, that is Zdeno Chara, and [Patrice] Bergeron with a seeing-eye shot makes it all equal. Then they go into overtime and win.”

Looking at the Bruins’ inconsistency, McGuire said some of it can be traced to the post-Marathon fallout.

“The thing that’s impressed me the most about this Bruins team: I think that this team was emotionally hurt, like most of the city of Boston was, after the Marathon tragedy,” McGuire said. “I really mean that. I was there to do their game following the Marathon tragedy, and you could sense the emotion, you could sense how these guys felt terrible for the families, for the victims, for the entire city. It was a huge blow. It took time for these guys to rebound.

“If you remember, the first game after was against the Buffalo Sabres, and they didn’t win the game. You could sense that guys were ready to cry after the game; they felt like they had let the city down. So, I think there’s been a lot of emotion that’s gone into the season for the Bruins. Let’s remember, it was a 48-game schedule, there was a lockout, a lot of players were saying stuff they probably shouldn’t have said or didn’t want to say but it was out of character, but emotion got involved. And I think this has been an emotional roller coaster for this team all year.

“Do I think they can flip the switch? Absolutely. I respectfully disagree with Peter Chiarelli — I do think this is a team that can flip the switch because of their depth down the middle. When you look at it with [David] Krejci, with Bergeron, with [Chris] Kelly, with [Gregory] Campbell. I truly believe, when you have that kind of depth down the middle, you can flip a switch.”

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Barry Pederson on D&C: Milan Lucic ‘took that team on his back’ 05.14.13 at 11:36 am ET
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Milan Lucic (left, celebrating with Matt Bartkowski and David Krejci after Bartkowski's first-period goal) came up big for the Bruins in Monday night's Game 7. (AP)

NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday morning, hours after the B’s completed an incredible comeback with a 5-4 overtime victory over the Maple Leafs in Game 7 at TD Garden.

Pederson passed around the praise, beginning with Milan Lucic.

“Lucic took that team on his back going down the stretch with his physical presence, intimidation and going to the front of the net,” Pederson said. “I thought he really turned things around.

“But it got scary there that first shift of the hockey game when [Dennis] Seidenberg goes down 37 seconds into the game. All of a sudden no Seidenberg, no [Andrew] Ference and no [Wade] Redden. And boy, [Matt] Bartkowski stepped it up, then the other young guys on the right side, [Johnny] Boychuk, [Adam] McQuaid and [Dougie] Hamilton, brought their game up. And it’s not easy with Toronto’s speed.

“Then you’ve got to talk about the captain [Zdeno Chara], with 35 minutes of ice time that he had to log. He’ll be one tired guy. Then you’ve got to give [Tuukka] Rask a lot of credit, too. Here’s a kid that [when] it was 4-1, he didn’t quit. He made some big saves down the stretch — that breakaway on [Matt] Frattin and then on [Joffrey] Lupul in overtime. It was a total team effort.”

While the Bruins came up big in the third period and overtime, the Maple Leafs are looking back at a stunning collapse.

“The other part of the story, of course, is as they’re coming on, a young Toronto team, who had never been through this war before and never experienced it, totally collapsed in the sense that they quit making plays, they’re back on their heels. they’re getting the puck and instead of going tape to tape and trying to create some offense, they’re just banging it off the boards,” Pederson said. “For [James] Reimer, who played so well for them in Game 5 and 6 to get them there, he just had no chance with so many bodies around him. He wasn’t controlling his rebounds and then the Bruins were just pouncing.”

While the Bruins have faced criticism for their inconsistency, Pederson said it’s been a league-wide problem during the lockout-shortened season. That said, Pederson noted that the B’s turnover problems need to be remedied in a hurry if they’re going to advance any further.

“One of the hallmarks of Claude Julien‘s teams and one of the things that I’ve enjoyed watching was the defensive responsibility and the way they protect the puck and the way they don’t beat themselves with turnovers,” Pederson said. “But boy, down the stretch of the regular season and at various times throughout these playoffs, that was not what we saw from this team. This was a team that was self-destructing by turnovers, not getting the puck deep, not protecting the puck. So for the Bruins to get to that next level and get away from that Jekyll and Hyde, as Claude calls it, they’re going to have to protect the puck better and be mentally tougher. Because again, the competition gets that much more difficult against the New York Rangers.”

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Bruins storm back to eliminate Maple Leafs in Game 7 05.13.13 at 10:06 pm ET
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The celebration is on for the Bruins after Patrice Bergeron (right) scored in overtime to give the Bruins a 5-4 overtime victory over the Maple Leafs in Game 7. (AP)

The Bruins ended up having the comeback that mattered most, Boston came back from a 4-1 deficit in the third period against the Maple Leafs in Game 7 before advancing on an overtime goal from Patrice Bergeron.

With the Bruins trailing 4-1 in the third, Nathan Horton, Milan Lucic and Bergeron scored to even the game. Both Bergeron and Lucic’s goals came in the final 1:22 with Tuukka Rask pulled for an extra skater. Bergeron added his second of the game on a rebound at 6:05 of overtime to give the B’s a 5-4 win.

The Bruins were hurting big-time on their backend, as Wade Redden was kept out of the lineup with Andrew Ference already out. The biggest shoe of all dropped when Dennis Seidenberg didn’t play after the first two minutes of the first period, forcing the Bruins to rely heavily on Zdeno Chara, Johnny Boychuk and Matt Bartkowski.

Bartkowski did well with the responsibilities he was given, as he got the Bruins on the board in the first period with his first career NHL goal. Toronto answered back by getting a power-play goal from Cody Franson and another tally from Franson through a screen in the second period. The Leafs added to their lead in the third period with goals from Phil Kessel and Nazem Kadri. Horton brought the Bruins within two with his fourth goal of the playoffs before the B’s tied it with a late flurry.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

• That was the second three-goal comeback in the third period this season for the B’s, as they accomplished the feat on Feb. 12 against the Rangers before losing in in a shootout.

• Bartkowski picked a first time for his first career NHL goal. Bartkowski, who had played 21 career NHL games without a goal entering Monday, stepped up big with Seidenberg out. His highest time on ice total in the NHL entering the game was 16:36 on April 11, and he easily surpassed that total with well over 22:43 in regulation alone.

• The Bruins got away with one late in the first period when Chris Kelly elbowed James van Riemsdyk in the face without getting called from it. JVR was leaking from the play.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

• Seidenberg played just 37 seconds of the game and did not play after the first two minutes. His second shift lasted just six seconds, and though he never headed down the tunnel to receive treatment, he didn’t play for the final 18:16 of the period before missing the second and third. He took a twirl during a TV timeout following Bartkowski’s goal but didn’t stay out for a shift and could be seen sitting and standing up for long periods of time on the bench while appearing to occasionally stretch his left leg. Seidenberg stayed on the bench in the second period.

• The Bruins went a span of 18:15 from the first to second period with just three shots on goal — two from Gregory Campbell and the other a point shot from Dougie Hamilton. Bergeron was given credit for a shot on goal in that span, though it didn’t reach the net and thus shouldn’t have been registered as such.

• The Bruins won 29-of-36 faceoffs through the first two periods and still didn’t manage to control the play. They had only 12 shots on goal through the first 40 minutes.

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