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Andy Brickley on M&M: Contraction good for NHL, but ‘I can’t see it happening’ 02.27.13 at 2:19 pm ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to talk about the proposed NHL realignment, how it could be complicated by team relocations, and Tuukka Rask‘s contract status as he continues to put together a strong year.

“I like that you play every team in the league home and home,” Brickley said of the realignment plan. “I like that you play down out of your division once you get into the postseason. I think that’s truly what builds rivalries, which is what they’re looking for. That was certainly the case back in the day, when you had to get out of your division before you could advance deeper into the postseason. I like that. And I think the divisions the way they’re created are going to cut down on travel, wear and tear, the time zone travel, and that’s all good.

“What I don’t like is the unevenness of the number of teams in the division, and the uneven number of games played against opponents in your own division. And does the number of teams in your division negatively affect your team’s chances of making the postseason? Those are my concerns. And then looking forward, are we looking at this formula because we’re preparing for two more teams, to prepare for two more cities? And what happens to realignment if a Western Conference team has to relocate to Quebec City and we’re just going to do the whole exercise all over again?”

Brickley said attendance at the Bruins’ recent games on Long Island and in Florida was sparse, but that the league is far more likely to relocate those teams, or the league-owned Coyotes, than to contract the number of teams in the league.

“Those things will never happen,” he said. “They will never take backward steps in that direction. I certainly can’t see it. There’s too much money at stake. ‘€¦ There’s too much strength in the union to allow that number of loss of jobs. I don’t see it, although it might be good for the game in the long run, but I can’t see it happening.”

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Read More: Andy Brickley, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin,
Barry Pederson on D&C: ‘As Bruins fans, you’ve got to be ecstatic’ about proposed realignment at 9:39 am ET
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Barry Pederson of NESN joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the Bruins’ strengths so far, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin‘s styles of play, and the newly proposed NHL realignment plan.

“I think it makes total sense,” Pederson said of the realignment plan, which would reconfigure the league into four divisions. “As Bruins fans, you’ve got to be ecstatic. You’ve got Detroit coming into this, what’s going to be called the Central Division, you’ve got four Original Six teams, some rivals, Buffalo still in there, and [Andy Brickley] will be happy because you still have Tampa Bay and Florida and he can go down and play some golf now and then. As Bruins fans, it’s a pretty good setup.”

Pederson said he thinks Marchand’s attitude, even more so than his speed or his hands, is his greatest strength, although his speed combined with Seguin’s creates space for their line to work.

“I don’t think he gets enough respect around the league for his offense because of the way he plays,” Pederson said of Marchand. “Marchand is sneaky offensively. Last night, he gets that puck on his backhand, he knows that [Evgeni] Nabokov‘s going to come diving out at him — he just waits and waits and then is able to get the goal. He’s got a great release. His speed really backs the defense off, and he and Seguin, when they’re going, they’re hard to play against.”

Despite speculation that Tim Thomas will never end up playing for the Islanders after being traded there, Pederson said he thinks Thomas is too competitive to walk away from hockey completely if he’s still capable of playing.

“I have no insight, for sure, to what’s going through his mind, but ‘€¦ to me there was a guy that never quit on anything,” Pederson said. “He went after shots that most guys would just say, ‘Oh, it’s an empty net, I’m not going to dive over there.’ So I just have a really hard time thinking he’s going to walk away from the game the way it’s going. I just have to think he’s coming back at some point.”

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Read More: Barry Pederson, Brad Marchand, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask
Darren Pang on D&C: Bruins ‘set for another challenge at the championship’ 02.26.13 at 12:14 pm ET
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NBC hockey analyst Darren Pang checked in with Dennis & Callahan on Tuesday to discuss the Bruins’ fast start and the Blackhawks’ even-better performance.

The Blackhawks have earned at least a point in each of their first 19 games with their NHL-record 16-0-3 start.

“That is incredible. I’m just amazed at the run that they’re on right now,” said Pang, a former goalie who played three seasons for the Blackhawks in the 1980s. “I’m in St. Louis right now and going to Toronto tomorrow for a Leafs game, but I should be back on Thursday and the streak will be on the line when the Blackhawks and the Blues play at Scottrade Center in St. Louis on Thursday. That will be a heck of a game. It always is. They don’t like each other. It is actually one of the true rivalries in the game. Once they get one playoff game behind them, if they end up facing each other in the playoffs this year I think people will really see how much St. Louis and Chicago don’t like each other. But I know that the Blues will want to end that great run that the Blackhawks are on on Thursday.”

While the Blackhawks clearly are the favorites in the Western Conference, there are a few teams that could make the claim in the East. Pang said the Bruins have the best chance.

“I think we have to be fair to how both Pittsburgh and Montreal have played, but I think there’s more strength in Boston than either of those teams,” Pang said. “It’s almost like last year in the West. There were teams that had more points than the LA Kings, but trust me, no one in the West wanted to play the LA Kings even though they were the eighth team. And it’s because of the way they’re built. They’re built with big, strong redwood trees on the wing, they’ve got good centermen up the middle of the ice, good depth, good defensemen that move the puck, and a horse on the blue line, and great goaltending. So, the same thing could be said about the Boston Bruins. If I were a team in the East, the one team I wouldn’t want to play to begin it all would be the Boston Bruins because I think they’re set for another challenge at the championship.”

One big reason for Boston’s early season success has been the play of goalie Tuukka Rask.

“I’m a big Tuukka Rask believer,” Pang said. “I think he’s waited his time. He’s ready to be a main guy. I like the way he handles things, he’s competitive, technically really sound. I’m impressed but I’m not surprised. A couple of years ago, before the Bruins won the Stanley Cup, when Tuukka had the ball and ran with it, he was pretty darn good and that was three years ago. So I knew he’d be ready for this challenge that’s ahead of him right now.”

Zdeno Chara showed surprising dexterity for a 6-foot-9 defenseman Sunday, pulling off a spin move and scoring against the Panthers in the B’s 4-1 victory.

“That was elegant,” Pang said. “Like Jean Beliveau was such a gentleman on the ice — competitive, it doesn’t mean you’re not competitive, but just the grace and the elegance that the big fella did that at was absolutely amazing. It wasn’t just the spin-o-rama, it was the saucy backhander. Not many guys can pull that heel-to-toe backhander off and go top cheese under the bar and in. That was what was spectacular, and at his size, no less.”

Read More: Darren Pang, Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara,
Andy Brickley on M&M: ‘I expect [Tyler Seguin] to take a little clearer look in the mirror’ 02.13.13 at 2:00 pm ET
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Andy Brickley of NESN joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday to talk about what the Bruins might do with the money they freed up by trading Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin‘s lack of production, and his broadcasting partner Jack Edwards, whose reaction to the Bruins’ comeback Tuesday has by now been seen all over the hockey world.

“I just admire his passion for the game,” Brickley said of Edwards, who was on video jumping up and down after the Bruins rallied to tie Tuesday’s game. “That was such an unlikely scenario, and how much he cares about quality play and the entertainment value of the visual medium we’re involved in, I think is spectacular. It’s different from my style and therefore I think we’re a good balance, but I think the fact that he’s enjoying it, doing a good job, calling the game the way it should be called, I think he’s doing the fans a service.”

Brickley said that, in addition to solidifying their long-term situation in net, the Bruins could be looking to add a veteran forward before the trade deadline.

“You’ll rarely get another Mark Recchi-type player, but I think that’s where they’re targeting somebody that can play in the top nine as far as their forwards,” he said. “They have a real strong room, but without Recchi and his resume or his pedigree, I think they’re looking for that type of player.

“I know they signed Jay Pandolfo and he brings a couple of Cups, experience, a guy that’s been around a long time. I’m not sure if he’s the guy, but I think they’re looking for that type of player that’s another voice in the room that can help motivate or keep guys in line or further get them to do what they need to do to be accountable to the rest of the team.”

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Read More: Andy Brickley, Brad Marchand, Jack Edwards, Jay Pandolfo
Bruins beat Maple Leafs behind Tuukka Rask’s first shutout of season 02.02.13 at 9:54 pm ET
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Chris Bourque‘s first goal as a Bruin was both the game-winner and the only goal allowed in a questionably officiated contest Saturday, but the Bruins suffered yet another injury in their 1-0 victory over the Maple Leafs Saturday at Air Canada Centre.

Bourque sped to the net to finish off a strong play from Chris Kelly‘s line (see below), giving the Bruins the only offense they would need in Tuukka Rask‘s first shutout of the season.

It wasn’t all good news for the B’s, as Brad Marchand didn’t play the rest of the way after crashing into the boards following contact with Leafs goalie James Reimer midway through the second period (he appeared to injure his shoulder on the play). The Bruins were already dinged up entering the game, as both Shawn Thornton (concussion) and Daniel Paille (upper-body injury) missed Saturday’s contest.

The Bruins next play Wednesday in Montreal against the Canadiens.

WHAT WENT RIGHT

‘€¢ It seems the B’s defensemen realized they owed Rask one after Thursday’s debacle, and they came through in allowing just 21 shots on goal. That made Rask’s night easier as he improved to 7-1-0 against the Maple Leafs, who traded him to B’s for Andrew Raycroft in 2007.

‘€¢ Not only did Bourque’s goal finally get him on the scoresheet for the season, it marked the second straight game in which Kelly’s line scored a goal after going scoreless in the fist six games of the season.

Bourque’s goal was the product of terrific net-drive from the trio of Kelly, Rich Peverley and Bourque, as Kelly sent a pass from center ice to Peverley at the blue line before racing past a Toronto defender. Peverley sent a pass down low to Kelly to the right of the goal, with Kelly backhanding it in front to Bourque, who was going full speed to push the puck into the net before eventually crashing into the post.

‘€¢ Playing in his second straight game and first since the B’s lost Thornton to a concussion, Lane MacDermid showed that he’s plenty willing to take on Thornton’s workload. The 23-year-old fought Mark Fraser twice in the game, dropping the gloves in each of the first two periods.

‘€¢ The Bruins caught a break in the first period when a shot from the point went past both Adam McQuaid and Rask was ruled no goal because Nazem Kadri made contact with the B’s goaltender. Replays showed that Kadri was outside of the crease and was shoved into Rask by Kelly, so the Leafs should have gotten on the board on the play.

WHAT WENT WRONG

‘€¢ Losing Marchand would be big for the B’s, as he leads the team with five goals this season. With Marchand out, Gregory Campbell and Bourque filled in on the second line.

‘€¢ The no-goal call that cost the Leafs in the first period wasn’t the only botched call in the game. A Patrice Bergeron shot that went off Tyler Seguin‘s skate and past Reimer was disallowed because Marchand had made contact with the goal earlier in the play. The contact seemed to come far enough before the goal to make the call suspect, but in the end each side lost a goal to shaky calls.

‘€¢ With that goal disallowed, Seguin still has yet to score on a goaltender outside of shootouts this season. Seguin’s empty-netter last Monday against the Hurricanes remains his only goal this season.

Saturday’s game must have added to the frustration, as goals against the Maple Leafs were a sure thing for him a season ago, when he tallied eight against Toronto in six meetings last season.

‘€¢ Those who (incorrectly) were upset with the Bruins for not “responding” to Thursday’s fight between Thornton and Buffalo’s John Scott were reminded of when it’s appropriate to respond. Zdeno Chara came to the defense of Johnny Boychuk after he was crushed into the boards by Leo Komarov. Unfortunately for the B’s, Chara got a roughing penalty out of it, as both players went off.

Read More: Brad Marchand, Tuukka Rask,
Tuukka Rask, Nathan Horton lead Bruins past Devils in shootout win 01.29.13 at 9:49 pm ET
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Five was the magic number for the Bruins Tuesday night, as Nathan Horton beat Johan Hedberg five-hole to tie the game late and Brad Marchand took the same approach in scoring the game-winner in the sixth round of a 2-1 shootout win over the Devils at TD Garden.

With the B’s trailing, 1-0, Nathan Horton went five-hole with 4:05 remaining in regulation to tie the game after Martin Brodeur’s backup had blanked the B’s through the first two and a half periods of play.

Hedberg was given the start for the Devils in place of Brodeur, who was given the night off for the first time this season. He made 25 saves on 26 shots, while Tuukka Rask stopped 27 of Devils’ 28 shots. The lone Devils’ goal came from David Clarkson on the power play, marking the first time this season that the B’s allowed a power-play goal.

The 5-0-1 B’s will return to action Thursday at TD Garden as they face the Sabres in the first of five meetings between the teams this season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Two of Horton’s three goals this season have come at crucial moments in the third period this season. Horton tied the game in last Wednesday’s overtime loss to the Rangers and turned in the equalizer Tuesday against the Devils. For a guy who developed a reputation as a clutch player in the 2011 postseason, he sure is reminding Bruins fans what they were missing late last season.

– Rask was very good for the B’s, making key stops on close-range attempts by the Devils. With less than five minutes to go in the first period, Krys Barch was parked in front and controlled a shot from the point, but Rask did a split to get a pad in front. Later in the period, Rask came up big in stopping Ryan Carter, who took a pass in front on the rush from Jacob Josefson. He also came up with a big save on Henrik Tallinder from the high slot in overtime.

There wasn’t much he could do about Clarkson’s goal, as there was traffic in front and the puck was redirected, though Rask did make a nice save in coming across the crease to stop Clarkson during a Devils power play that came as a result of Krejci’s penalty.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– Not having an effective power play cost the Bruins an attempt to pull even earlier. The team went 0-for-3 on the man advantage, most notably failing to capitalize on a Dainius Zubrus holding call with 8:15 remaining in regulation and the Devils up, 1-0. The only two shots of that power play came when Hedberg stopped Patrice Bergeron on the rush and stuffed Chris Bourque on the rebound.

– The Bruins’ perfect penalty kill streak ended at 24, as Johnny Boychuk’s second-period tripping penalty yielded Clarkson’s power play tally. The Bruins were the last team to allow a power play goal this season.

– Though he scored in the shootout for the second time this season, six games are in the books and Tyler Seguin still has just an empty netter to his name as goals go. He had one of his better performances of the season, but he let up big time in a second-period footrace with Andy Greene to avoid getting hit on a play that could have prevented icing.

Speaking of the shootout, Seguin had to re-do his attempt in the first round of the shootout when a fan appeared to throw something on the ice during his first attempt.

Seguin led the Bruins with 29 goals last season, but he’s yet to bury one the old fashioned way in 2013.

– The B’s took a pair of goaltender interference penalties, at least one of which was a rough call. Daniel Paille was whistled for taking down Hedberg in the second period, but replays showed that it looked more like Bryce Salvador took out his own goalie’s legs. David Krejci was also called for goalie interference in the third period moments after he had a scoring chance when he redirected a Dougie Hamilton pass from the point in front.

Read More: Nathan Horton, Tuukka Rask,
Dennis Seidenberg a game-time decision vs. Islanders, Tuukka Rask expected to start 01.25.13 at 11:55 am ET
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Dennis Seidenberg will participate in warmups prior to Friday night’s game against the Islanders and will be a game-time decision as he looks to return from a lower-body injury that has kept him out for the last two games.

“He’ll be game-time,” Claude Julien said after Friday’s morning skate. “I can tell you I’m more optimistic than pessimistic though, but again, game-time for the right reasons that we want to make sure that he is ready to go.”

Seidenberg took part in the morning skate after staying off the ice (the team did not practice) on Thursday. The 31-year-old participated in line rushes with Dougie Hamilton, his partner in last Saturday’s win over the Rangers (the only game in which he’s played this season and the game in which he suffered the injury). It’s worth noting, however, that Seidenberg practiced on Tuesday and worked with Hamilton before eventually being kept out of Wednesday night’s game at Madison Square Garden. He said Friday that he feels good and that resting on Thursday was beneficial.

“The day off always helps when you have a nagging injury, so it definitely helped,” he said.

The defensive pairings have been shuffled in each of the two games without Seidenberg, but they were as follows Friday morning (the forward lines were unchanged):

Zdeno CharaJohnny Boychuk

Seidenberg – Hamilton

Andrew Ference – Adam McQuaid

Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice Friday, suggesting he will make his fourth straight start to begin the season.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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