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 in the third period with Toronto leading 4-1.
“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.”
Next up for the Bruins are the Rangers, who also underachieved in the regular season. Although the Rangers finished one point behind the Maple Leafs in the standings, McGuire indicated the Bruins should expect a stiffer challenge in the second round.
“The Rangers are better defensively than Toronto,” McGuire said. “The Rangers have a much better goalie in Henrik Lundqvist. It can be argued that Lundqvist is the best goalie in the NHL right now based on his play this season, especially the last 25 games and the first seven games of this playoff season, he was phenomenal for the Rangers. It’s a big reason why Washington didn’t win the series is because Lundqvist was just so good in the series.
“I think the one thing that changed from the Rangers’ standpoint was their trade at the trade deadline, moving Marian Gaborik out to Columbus and bringing back John Moore, Derek Dorsett and Derick Brassard. Those three players have helped change the entire fabric of the New York Rangers. They have much more depth, they play a much harder game and they have much more skill. That’s changed the entire dynamic of their team.
“And the other thing is New York has a huge shutdown tandem that Toronto did not have. And that is Ryan McDonagh and Dan Girardi. Those guys are as good a shutdown tandem as any shutdown tandem in the league.”
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.