|Doc Emrick on M&M: Tuukka Rask gives Bruins ‘check mark’ over Blackhawks||06.12.13 at 12:34 pm ET|
NBC Sports play-by-play caller Mike “Doc” Emrick joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday morning to break down the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.
Emrick said he expects the series to be almost dead even, and he did not offer a prediction for who would raise the Stanley Cup in the end. However, he drew a comparison between this series and the 1995 finals between the Devils and Red Wings.
‘The edge is very difficult to call,’ Emrick said. ‘I know there have been various surveys done and I think one very extensive one in Canada came out 50 percent to 49.2 percent, and at that point I didn’t even ask who had the 50 percent because it becomes ‘ it is pretty much the way that everyone here is thinking. It is just too tough to call.
‘I remember a similar thing that happened when we had a 48-game season in 1995 and we went into the final with a favorite team and a non-favorite one because the New Jersey Devils were not a good scoring team. They had a good goaltender and they played good defense. And the Red Wings were lights out. I mean, they were the biggest offensive juggernaut going and they banged their way through Chicago to get to the final and then New Jersey shut them down in four straight games with a defensive scheme.’
Emrick continued that comparison between the current series and the 1995 finals while discussing Zdeno Chara‘s impact on Tuukka Rask‘s play. Emrick compared Chara’s dominance to that of hall-of-fame defenseman Scott Stevens.
‘I think if you were to ask that question to Marty Brodeur, he would say that Scott Stevens‘ years were some of his best, because when you have somebody out there that is a presence that takes care of business as well as Scott did and as well as Zdeno Chara does and covers even more distance than Scott would ever hope to just because of his raw size.’ Emrick said. ‘I think you’re making a very good comparison there and I think you’re also giving appropriate credit to the defense in front of [Rask].’
While he praised Chara for his defense, Emrick was sure to give credit to Rask, saying that he gave the Bruins an advantage between the pipes over Corey Crawford.
‘If you want to put a check mark in one particular category that I think solidly goes to Boston, it is goaltending,’ Emrick said. ‘And again, we have the leading goals-against average is one guy and the other is second. And the leading save percentage is the other guy and the one guy is second. So you can waffle back and forth. It seems to me the way that Rask has been playing, that is a check mark to the Bruins.
‘As [NBC Sports color commentator] Eddie Olczyk always says, ‘Without goaltending you have got no shot.’ And they’ve sure got goaltending.’
|Bruins insist the Blackhawks aren’t the Penguins||06.11.13 at 7:08 pm ET|
CHICAGO — The Bruins didn’t see the Blackhawks in the regular season this year because of the lockout, but did facing the Penguins prepare the B’s for Chicago?
“It’s hard to really compare them to someone when you haven’t faced them, but if you look at them on paper, their lineup, a lot of people like to compare them to Pittsburgh,” Zdeno Chara said.
That’s right. A lot of people do compare them to Pittsburgh, and it’s probably why many assumed that the Penguins and Blackhawks would meet in the Cup finals. There is a difference between the teams though, most notably that Chicago is a much stronger team defensively. Their defensemen are good in their own end and move the puck exceptionally well, plus they have stronger goaltending.
Yet the team’s high offensive output has led to comparisons to Pittsburgh. Brad Marchand even made the comparison, but like Chara noted that the similarities are in the rosters, not the styles of play.
“The closest team to what they would do would be Pittsburgh just because of the talent and skill they have, but they don’t really play a similar game,” he said. “Pittsburgh was more keen on chipping pucks in and going after it. I don’t know if Chicago’s like that, but there’s not really any other team that plays like they do. They play a different game and I think that’s why their so tough to stop.”
Marchand was then asked if the Bruins would take the same approach to the Blackhawks as they did against the Penguins.
“That’s a sneaky question right there,” Marchand said with a grin. “It’s a completely different team. I just said that they’re not the same team. They’re similar in skill and talent, so very sneaky question by you. Trying to get me in trouble over here, but they play a different game and it won’t at all be like the Pittsburgh series.”
There is one Bruin who faced the Blackhawks this year: Jaromir Jagr, who played them twice as a member of the Stars and had no points, four shots on goal and a minus-1 rating in two meetings against Chicago.
“I know everything about them,” Jagr said with a laugh, as questions about the teams’ unfamiliarity with one another were aplenty given that teams only played conference opponents this season.
The Blackhawks won both games Jagr played against them, one of which was an 8-1 blowout, so it’s no surprise that Jagr respects their talent.
“When we played them in Dallas, I thought they were in the best team in that conference for sure,” Jagr said. “They played different hockey than any other team in that conference. They’re quick, so talented up front, but they’re quick on defense. I think that’s a huge difference compared to other teams. They’re so fast and everybody can move the puck on their defense, so we have to be careful of that.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Zdeno Chara’s presence ‘mammoth in a series like this’||06.10.13 at 1:38 pm ET|
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.”
|Andy Brickley on M&M: Kaspars Daugavins the right call to replace Gregory Campbell||06.07.13 at 1:46 pm ET|
Andy Brickley, the color commentator for the Bruins on NESN, called into Mut & Merloni on Friday afternoon, and he wholeheartedly agreed with Claude Julien‘s apparent decision to play Kaspars Daugavins Friday night after Gregory Campbell broke his leg in Wednesday’s double-overtime win.
“You have to look at it this way: What players are available in the absence of Gregory Campbell? And what are we losing in Gregory Campell?” Brickley said. “You’re losing an energy guy, a real good faceoff guy, a penalty-killer, reliable, accountable ‘ all those things that you want in your role-playing centerman.”
Brickley said once Julien split up Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly to center the bottom two lines, Daugavins makes the most sense of the options, including Jay Pandolfo, Carl Soderberg and Jordan Caron.
“Which player has the most trust of the coaching staff, and which player gives your team the greater flexibility and versatility if you have to shorten the bench or you get into a special teams game?” Brickley asked. “Daugavins is probably your best bet.”
Brickley, like many, many others the last two days, lauded Campbell for sticking it out for the rest of his shift after breaking his leg while blocking a shot during Wednesday’s marathon Game 3. He said the effort exemplified “the [hockey] culture, how these guys grew up,” and Campbell finishing his shift was a high-risk, high-reward situation.
“I know there was some discussion whether he should’ve just lied down and writhed in pain in order to get the whistle — but I don’t think it would have come — so he did what he had to do,” Brickley said. “The impact that that can have if you survive that penalty-killing situation, but then get yourself to the bench, the message received by the players [about] how committed you are.”
|Bobby Orr on D&C: Bruins ‘a better team than they were in ’11’||06.06.13 at 9:11 am ET|
“This team, you go back to the Toronto series, is this the same team? What did they do? Absolutely amazing,” Orr said. “They didn’t play great against Toronto. The 10 minutes of the last game, an unbelievable comeback. They played a little better against the Rangers. But in this series, they’re playing as well now as they did in ’11. They’ve completely dominated Pittsburgh. ‘¦ They’re playing their big guys against their big guys, and the Bruin guys that are supposed to score are scoring, Tuukka [Rask] has been unbelievable. I don’t know what happened. But Claude [Julien] and the coaching staff got them playing great. Very impressive. Very impressive.”
Added Orr: “This is team is playing unbelievable hockey. And people are going to say, ‘Well, Pittsburgh’s not playing very well.’ Well, the Bruins aren’t letting them play. They’re all over them, they’re not giving them any room. And when they get those chances, Tuukka’s coming up huge for that team. It’s a team effort.”
“I don’t agree with that at all, about him being overrated and this guy not doing da-da-da-da,” Orr said. “Let’s look at what the Bruins are doing. they’re not giving them one inch. You want to play tough? The Bruins are there. Finesse? Every player that’s supposed to — whatever the players’ strength is, that player is playing to his full strength. It’s wonderful to watch. And they’re defense, wow. Defensively they’re very, very strong.”
Gregory Campbell took a slap shot off his leg late in the second period but showed toughness by getting back to his feet and struggling to help the B’s penalty kill for almost a minute until the puck was cleared and he had a chance to get to the bench.
“What that kid did last night — I mean, they’re reporting he may have a broken leg. He obviously he was in pain, and he hung in there,” Orr said. “That’s the team. That’s the team right there. That’s what they are right now. We saw what they’re made of. This team has a ton of character. A ton of character.”
Added Orr: “What he did was incredible. Certainly it gave the team a great lift. Certainly the fans appreciated what Gregory did.”
|Morning skate report: Zdeno Chara-Dennis Seidenberg together, Andrew Ference hopes to return||06.01.13 at 12:53 pm ET|
PITTSBURGH — The Bruins will play a hockey game for the first time in a week when they finally open the Eastern Conference finals against the Penguins at CONSOL Energy Center. From the looks of it, there will be no changes to their lineup, although Andrew Ference could be a possibility to return.
Both Ference and Matt Bartkowski took rushes with Johnny Boychuk on Boston’s second pairing in the morning skate, with Bartkowski taking the majority of them. After the skate, Claude Julien declined to tip his hand regarding Ference’s status for the game, with Ference saying he wants to play but that the decision is up to the coaches.
Another notable takeaway from the morning skate was that it appears the Zdeno Chara–Dennis Seidenberg pairing will be kept together, presumably to play against the Penguins‘ top line of Evgeni Malkin between James Neal and Jarome Iginla.
The Bruins’ lineup looked as follows in the morning skate:
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: ‘Virtually impossible play’ for Dougie Hamilton on game-ending goal||05.24.13 at 2:01 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to offer his take on the Bruins’ mistake-prone 4-3 overtime loss to the Rangers in Game 4.
McGuire said that despite Thursday’s loss, the Bruins have no reason to be overly concerned.
“The Rangers can talk about coming back and getting back in this series. It’s still 3-1. You’re going back to Boston for Game 5. And the Rangers should have lost that game last night,” McGuire said. “The Boston Bruins were full of self-inflicted wounds. … Whether it’s Tuukka Rask falling down, Tuukka and Zdeno Chara not communicating properly, Chara being lackadaisical with the puck. But also give credit where credit’s due: Henrik Lundqvist was phenomenal, especially in overtime.
“So, stuff’s going to happen in a playoff series. You can’t overreact to it. You move along, you play Game 5 and you do a good job in front of your fan base.”
McGuire said he was impressed with how the Bruins started Thursday’s game, and surprised at the Rangers’ performance.
“The Rangers had nothing going on,” he said. “The first period I was shocked. The shots were 12-4 and I was absolutely shocked at how the Rangers were playing. Jaromir Jagr in particular really had a sense of urgency to start that game. You could see the Bruins were jumping. They were good. They were ready to play.”
Added McGuire: “I’m telling you guys straight up: People are underplaying how deep Boston is and how good Boston is. And the Rangers don’t match up particularly well with Boston. That’s just the reality because they don’t have the same kind of offensive depth, especially down the middle, as they have in Boston. That’s a big problem. You compound that with the Chara factor and with the [Johnny] Boychuk factor in terms of size. You’ve got some very big defensemen. Whatever offensive press you might have if you’re New York, it gets shut down pretty quick.”
Bruins defenseman Dougie Hamilton was beaten on the game-winning goal when Chris Kreider redirected a pass from Rick Nash past Rask in overtime. McGuire said Hamilton was in a tough spot.
“That play, by the way, you’ve got numbers back, you’re in a good position,” McGuire said. “I will say this, and I’m not trying to be overly defensive of the young player: You tell me, in this new NHL, what Hamilton’s supposed to do against a player that’s 6-foot-3, 225 pounds, and can skate as fast as almost anybody in the league. That is a virtually impossible play. It’s a beautiful pass by Nash. And the only thing Hamilton could have done — and if he’s a little bit older, maybe he does do — he takes a penalty. … Because that is an unbelievably difficult play to defend. Because of the size of the man attacking the net, because of the speed of the man attacking the net, and because of the precision of the pass made by Rick Nash. That’s an unbelievable pass by Nash and a great finish by Kreider. This is something he’ll learn over time. In that situation you may just take a penalty. Just tackle the guy as he goes to the net.”