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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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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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Read More: Henrik Lundqvist, Patrice Bergeron, Pierre McGuire, Tuukka Rask
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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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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Read More: Barry Pederson, Milan Lucic, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara
Bruins storm back to eliminate Maple Leafs in Game 7 05.13.13 at 10:06 pm ET
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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.

Read More: Milan Lucic, Nathan Horton, Patrice Bergeron, Tuukka Rask
Leafs force Game 7 with dramatic win over Bruins 05.12.13 at 10:37 pm ET
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TORONTO — It isn’t about eliminating the Leafs any more than it is staying alive now for the Bruins, as Toronto handed them a 2-1 loss in Game 6 Sunday to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

The Bruins, who had a 3-1 series lead, could not get to James Reimer again, as the Toronto goalie allowed just one goal for the second straight game, with the one Boston goal not coming until the final 30 seconds of the game on a Milan Lucic tally.

After the teams skated to a scoreless first two periods, Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf tipped a Nazem Kadri shot past Tuukka Rask at 1:48 of the third period to give the Leafs the lead. Phil Kessel later beat Tyler Seguin to a rebound to extend the lead to two goals, which was too much for the Bruins to overcome given the performance of Reimer.

Game 7 will be played Monday at TD Garden, with the winner facing the victor of the Capitals-Rangers series, which also is tied at three games apiece.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

‘€¢ Any hockey fan had to smirk at the sound of the “Thank You, Seguin” chants that rang throughout Air Canada Centre following the Kessel goal. With another night without a point, Seguin has now put up a goose egg through the first six games of the playoffs while Kessel has three goals and one assist for four points. Seguin needs to rise to the occasion.

‘€¢ David Krejci had a rough go of it on the shift on which Phaneuf scored. A botched drop-pass in the Toronto zone left the B’s behind as the Leafs took the puck the other way. Furthermore, Krejci was gliding back into the zone and let Kadri get the shot off. Had he been hustling, Krejci likely could have broken up the play by knocking the puck away.

‘€¢ The Brad Marchand-Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line had no shots on goal in the first period, with Seguin missing the net on a 3-on-2. Bergeron had a shot on goal late in the first, but it came on the power play and not with his line. Marchand played just 3:49 in the first and registered his first shot on goal in two games late in the second period.

The line came to life early in the second period and had a number of scoring chances, including on one shift in which Bergeron followed a Seguin bid by trying for a wraparound and being stopped by Reimer. On that same shift, a Bergeron slap shot yielded a rebound with lots of open net, but Marchand was battling in front and didn’t see it.

‘€¢ With Andrew Ference out, Claude Julien inserted Dougie Hamilton into the lineup and broke up the Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg pairing in order to have a lefty and righty on each pairing. There was a lot of mixing and matching done on the blue line for the B’s, but Hamilton was used less as the game went on. After playing 4:49 on six shifts in the first period, Hamilton was given only three shifts for 1:31 in the second.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

‘€¢ For the third straight game, Rask showed up big. Rask made a glove save on a Phaneuf slap shot in the final seconds of the second period to keep it scoreless after shining late in Game 4 and through Game 5. Yes, the Bruins gave up a big series lead against the Leafs, but don’t think this is 2010 all over again for Rask. He’s been one of the B’s most consistent players. The same can’t be said for a lot of guys on this team right now.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, Dougie Hamilton, James Reimer
Inside the playoff mind of Tuukka Rask: ‘You try to stay cool and not let the nerves get you’ 05.09.13 at 7:18 pm ET
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When Tuukka Rask stuck out his glove and saved Game 4 by robbing Joffrey Lupul midway through overtime Wednesday night, he showed almost no reaction.

As he told everyone Thursday, that’s just who he is – a focused goalie making save after save with little or no emotion when it’s playoff time.

‘€œI don’€™t know, nothing,” Rask said when asked what his emotions were in overtime. “You just try to stay focused on that that next shot I think. That’€™s about it. I’€™ve told you before, I don’€™t know how to talk about my feelings here.’€

Is it enjoyable for him?

‘€œI don’€™t think it’€™s fun,” he said. “Really, you try to stay cool and not let the nerves get you. You just try to stay cool and relaxed and do the things you normally do in practice and games and not get shaky.

“I think it’€™s human that you get a little nervous and try to battle through it and tell yourself to stay calm and stop the puck. But I think it’€™s both.’€

Rask says he’s not motivated by getting snubbed for the Vezina Trophy by NHL general managers.

‘€œI don’€™t know,” Rask said when asked if he felt snubbed. “People might say that. It doesn’€™t really matter to me. We made the playoffs, we’€™re battling for the Stanley Cup now. I think that’€™s our goal. These individual trophies come if they come and you can’€™t really do anything about it.

‘€œI think we just have to play our game as we have in the past few games here and not be thinking about closing the series more than playing our game as good as we can, and I think the results will come.’€

Does Rask work at being cool under pressure, or does it come naturally?

‘€œI think it’€™s both,” Rask said. ‘€œYou know the other team is going to throw everything at you because it’€™s do-or-die for them. So, you kind of have to take the same mentality. If you slip even a little bit, you give the other team life then they’€™re going to take advantage of that. I think that’€™s the challenge we’€™re facing, too. We have to approach the game like it’€™s a do-or-die game for us.’€

Battling the Maple Leafs has been a lot of work for Rask so far. He’s faced 157 shots in four games, allowing 10 goals. He has a .932 save percentage, right at his regular season average. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Stanley Cup Playoffs, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tuukka Rask
Bruins Thursday notes: Nathan Horton OK, David Krejci loves being ‘unpredictable’ and Tuukka Rask ‘in the zone’ at 3:46 pm ET
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The Bruins held an optional skate on Thursday at TD Garden, with optional being the key word. David Krejci and Dougie Hamilton were among several Bruins in the tunnel outside their dressing room playing soccer but other than that there was no on-ice activity as the Bruins rest after their Game 4 victory over the Leafs that leaves them one win from the second round.

Coach Claude Julien confirmed that Nathan Horton is OK after taking a vicious body blow on a forecheck from Dion Phaneuf that led to Krejci’s game-winner in overtime Wednesday night. Horton is expected to be ready and play Game 5 Friday night at TD Garden.

Julien covered a number of topics on Thursday, including the play of Krejci, the nerves of steel of Tuukka Rask and what makes the Bruins so much fun to coach at this time of year.

Here were his answers in Thursday’s Q & A with reporters at TD Garden.

On if after the game he realized how good of a game last night was: “Yes, I do. I said it [Wednesday] night, I said it this morning to the guys. It shouldn’€™t be looked at who’€™s an experience team, who’€™s a young team, who’€™s this, who’€™s that; it should be viewed as two teams playing really good hockey right now. There’€™s a lot of teams that Leafs squad would have beat playing the way they did and we’€™re, when I say fortunate, that we played well enough and found a way to score that overtime goal to get that win, because it was a real good game that could have gone either way.”

On the mentality heading into a possible clinching game: “You’€™ve got to play your best game because we know how hard it to close. That’€™s the thing you hope your players realize extremely well after all the experiences we’€™ve had throughout the years. We now know how hard it is to close and no reason for us to come out tomorrow and not play as hard, if not harder, than we did last night.

On how important it is to come out hard and set a tone Friday night: “No matter what, we came out, I thought we came out well last night and we were down 2-0. It wasn’€™t because we didn’€™t have a good period, it was circumstances that one was a bit of a missed assignment, but a nice good goal on their part. The other one was just an unfortunate break on our part because Tuukka [Rask] was screened until the last second. I really felt we played well enough and came out in the second and regained ourselves and got ourselves back in the game.

“It’€™s just a matter of making sure you’€™re ready, you know how hard to start. Everybody says, ‘€˜Well, you’€™ve got to come out hard,’€™ both teams have to come out hard. The most important thing is you’€™ve got to be ready to play, not just a period, or have a good start, but play the whole
game, not just in a physical way, but a mental way.”

On if the other lines are way behind the David Krejci line right now: “I think it’€™s pretty obvious that that the line is leading the way right now. Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] scores a goal last night, it as on the power play. I think Bergy’€™s played well, I thought Tyler [Seguin] played extremely well here in Boston and that line was actually good, but I don’€™t think Tyler played his best, and neither did Brad [Marchand], in Toronto. They’€™ve got a chance to redeem themselves here, but the other lines have, at some point, produced, as well. But Krejci’€™s line is, no doubt, the dominant line, I think that’€™s the biggest thing. We saw that ‘€“ I feel like I’€™m repeating myself ‘€“ a few years back when I thought [Chris] Kelly, [Rich] Peverley, and [Michael] Ryder were a dominant in the Montreal series, and then other lines picked it up afterwards. At the end of the day, it’€™s a matter of always having somebody doing something to help us win hockey games and, so far, that’€™s what’€™s been happening.”

On what changes occur in Krejci’€™s game when the postseason comes around: “Well, some people like playing in these situations and we’€™ve seen those in the past from other players on other teams. He’€™s a playoff performer, he loves the intensity, the excitement of it. He comes up big in those kinds of situations. It’€™s always nice to have those kinds of players on your team and, so far, David’€™s always been a good playoff performer for us. It’€™s a good thing he’€™s on our team.”

On what it is about Tuukka Rask’€™s temperament that allows him to shine in situations like overtime: “Well, I think right now that Tuukka is calm, he’€™s in the zone, he’€™s not getting too high, not getting too low. All he wants to do is stop the puck. He’€™s been pretty good and he is temperamental at times, we’€™ve seen that side of it, too, when he’€™s not happy with either a situation or himself. But at the same time, right now, he understands how important it is to stay focused and he’€™s done a great job of that.”

On how much more dangerous Krejci is when he is shooting the puck: “It makes him unpredictable. When he’€™s not shooting and he’€™s not, maybe, at the top of his game, often you’€™ll see him looking to pass, now he’€™s taking whatever is given to him; sometimes it’€™s a pass, sometimes it’€™s a shot. He’€™s confident. Right now, everything about David is good; he’€™s been good on draws, he’€™s been good at scoring goals, he’€™s making great plays, he’€™s involved in the gritty areas, he’€™s been physical, he’€™s been all around such a great player. That’€™s what makes him good. Maybe, everybody would like to see him do that for 82 games, unfortunately, that’€™s not the case.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, David Krejci, Nathan Horton
Adam McQuaid on M&M: ‘It’s pretty easy to dislike who you’re playing against’ at 2:18 pm ET
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Bruins defenseman Adam McQuaid checked in with Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to talk about Wednesday’s night’s overtime victory over the Maple Leafs that gave the B’s a 3-1 series lead.

The intensity in this series hit a new high in Game 4, a back-and-forth game that featured plenty of hard hitting. Although Toronto doesn’t have the obvious villains like some of the Bruins’ more fierce rivals, McQuaid said it’s not difficult to develop some animosity toward the skaters in blue and white.

“We’re playing for the Stanley Cup, and the guy across from you is the one that’s trying to prevent you from getting that, so it’s pretty easy to dislike who you’re playing against. They’re trying to take something away from you,” McQuaid said. “You kind of know who you’re playing against. At the same time, we’re kind of trying to focus on ourselves and make sure that we’re playing hard.”

Maple Leafs forward Phil Kessel has been surprisingly successful in this series after struggling in regular-season action against his former team.

“He’s got a lot of speed. He’s a great offensive talent,” McQuaid said. “He’s got a quick shot, so he doesn’t need much time to get a good opportunity. So, you have to do your best to try and limit his opportunities and be aware when he’s on the ice.”

Tuukka Rask had a big game Wednesday, the same day the league announced the finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender. Despite posting stats that put him at the top of the list, Rask is not one of the three finalists.

“We know how valuable he is to our team and what he brings to our team,” McQuaid said. “We let him know in our eyes that he deserved to be there. Some guys are joking around that he’s just going to have to be better next year. ‘€¦ We know how important he is to our team and how good he is. There was a little bit of surprise that he wasn’t nominated. But like I said, his value within our team, we know how important he is.”

McQuaid has been paired in this series with Wade Redden, the veteran who spent two years in the minors before returning to the NHL this season and being acquired by the Bruins from the Blues at the trade deadline in April.

“He’s a guy that has a ton of experience,” McQuaid said. “Him going through what he went through the last couple of years I think speaks volumes to the type of person he is. To persevere through that. I was just happy to see him have the success that he’s had. I feel pretty fortunate to have a D partner like that.

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.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Phil Kessel, Tuukka Rask, Wade Redden
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