Not only were Daniel Paille, Chris Kelly and Matt Bartkowski absent from warmups Friday night before Game 1, but Kevan Miller was missing as well.

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Friday to discuss the first round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

For McGuire, Friday night’s matchup against the Red Wings is the toughest scenario the Bruins could have faced.

“The only reason I say that is the creativity of Mike Babcock, [Detroit's] coach,” McGuire said. “I think most people know on paper the rosters don’t compare. Boston’s roster is better on paper than Detroit’s just because of the veteran experience and the fact that most of the players on the Bruins roster have been part of a Stanley Cup run to the final and/or won a Stanley Cup.

“A lot of these Detroit players really haven’t been a part of that. It’s really been a huge turnover in their roster — some because of injury, some because of retirement and some just because they had no other choice. The one thing I will say about this Detroit roster is a lot of the younger players you’€™ll see won an American [Hockey] League championship last year in Grand Rapids.”

One of the main concerns for the Bruins is the Red Wings’ speed.

“œThat’s going to be the No. 1 thing to watch early on,” McGuire said. “Watch what they do when they’re attacking Zdeno Chara. Watch what they do when they’re attacking Johnny Boychuk – two of the bigger, more important defensemen for the Bruins just because of the shutdown capabilities. Let’s see if they play chip-and-chase hockey or if they really try to stretch them out and create huge seams.

“You won’€™t know until the game starts, but this is going back to my point about Mike Babcock — to me he is the most creative coach in the NHL. Doesn’t mean he’€™s the best — although he’s getting one of my votes for Coach of the Year. I think he’€™s the most creative coach in the National Hockey League and we’€™ll see how he breaks down the Bruins defense because the Bruins defense, as we know, is extremely good.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

On Tuukka Rask: “I wish I had a vote for the Vezina. I don’t — the only award I can vote on is Coach of the year — but if I did, Tuukka Rask would be my Vezina Trophy winner. He would get my No. 1 vote. He is, in my opinion anyways, and I say this with all respect to Semyon Varlamov and Henrik Lundqvist and all the other goaltenders out there because there have been a lot of them this year in a lot of different cities, I think Tuuka Rask has been the best goalie. He’s a big reason why the Fins won a bronze medal. He’s a major reason why the Bruins won the Presidents’ Trophy, and I think he’s also grown unbelievably in terms of his composure — his ability to relate to his teammates and also dealing with big situations. He’s unflappable. He really is. I have tremendous respect for what he’s done this year.”

On Chris Kelly and Daniel Paille: “That’s a big concern. You’ve definitely got to look at that, and Chris Kelly‘s such an effective player not just five-on-five and insulating Carl Soderberg in particular and Loui Eriksson, but also because he’s such an important part of the penalty kill. And so Chris Kelly‘s going to be a huge loss and Daniel Paille and Gregory Campbell are one of the best tandems when it comes to killing penalties in the entire league, so that’s a big loss, too. I mean, again, you look at it, and it doesn’t make it any easier for Boston, but … on paper, Boston’s a better team. Now they’ve got to prove it. It’s that simple.”

Blog Author: 
Meredith Perri

Pressure is what you make it.

As the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, the Bruins are making it nothing more than chance to fulfill their own expectations.

According to the Vegas line provided by Bodog.com, the Bruins are 7-2 favorites to win their second Stanley Cup in four years by the time late June rolls around, and for good reason. They are relatively healthy heading into the playoffs, though nursing injuries to Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly while battling a flu bug.

“Well, we never get comfortable,” Claude Julien said before Friday’s Game 1 with the Red Wings. “We’€™ve always talked about that. No matter what we’€™ve accomplished, we always know that the good things happen from hard work, so the minute we stop working hard and focusing on the areas we need to focus on, things can change. So that’€™s always been our approach.”

But it’s not the flu or injuries to Paille or Kelly that are of primary concern – it’s the parity in the Stanley Cup playoffs that present the biggest obstacle. Julien reminded everyone Friday that there’s nothing to be taken for granted when a team like the Bruins take on a club like the Red Wings, a difference of 24 points in the season standings.

“Not with parity,” Julien said. “I don’€™t think that exists anymore. I’€™ve been mentioning that for the last couple of days, about the percentage of upsets in the first round over the last couple of years. So it just goes to prove to you that anything can happen in the playoffs. We’€™ve seen it many times before and I don’€™t expect that to change this year also.”

Bruins defenseman Torey Krug says he learned a lot from his first experience in the playoffs last year. That experience, he says, will help as he and the Bruins open the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.

“Pressure is whatever you put on yourself,” Krug said. “This team has high expectations of itself. I wouldn’t call it pressure. We’re going to respond well to whatever it is. We’re excited to get things going.”

Krug broke onto the scene in the 2014 playoffs as a power play weapon and an offensive force.

“You have to play like that,” Krug contined. “If you’re scared to make mistakes, the puck is going to end up in the back of your own net. You have to make sure you play with confidence. That’s the same message the coaching staff was preaching today. It’s the same thing as last summer. Just eager to get going. It’s an exciting time.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Pierre McGuire of NBC Sports joins the program to talk about the creativity of Red Wings coach Mike Babcock as well as the potential for physical play in the series.

[0:01:30] ... the only reason I say that is because of the creativity of Mike Babcock the coach. I think most people on paper the rosters don't compare Boston roster better on paper. Than -- just because of ...
[0:03:13] ... to my point -- They're saying the mark when we started off Mike Babcock to me is the most creative coaching NHL. Doesn't mean he's the best even though he's getting one of my -- coach ...
[0:04:20] ... attack ought to. And I'll speak to some of the creativity and Mike Babcock. There Pavel Datsyuk -- a 100%. Would probably be the best player in this series how close to want to percent how much of Pavel Datsyuk will we see. Even -- close to a 100% based on all the games I've done and I've got a lot of -- game addiction she Olympics. The fact the demand you imploring -- -- -- Paula just take a little bit she reported being shut. I think Patrice Bergeron both rosters I think countries -- on this season as the -- player on both rosters this season. I just and I ...
[0:05:23] ... penalty kill and -- Chris Killen and huge -- and Denny partying Gregory Campbell are one of the botched. Handler come to control anything Carter leaks so sparked a big loss to social. I mean again ...






Brendan Smith is on Detroit's top defense pairing. (AP)

Brendan Smith is on Detroit’s top defense pairing. (AP)

Brendan Smith is a bit more vocal than Reilly Smith.

Reilly, more of the shy type with the media, is extremely self-effacing. When things are going well, he’d rather somebody else get the credit. When things aren’t, he’s a little harder on himself.

So it was interesting Friday to talk to his brother, a defenseman for the Red Wings, about some of the major storlyines that have surrounded Reilly’s young career.

Reilly was a big part of the package that the Bruins received in the trade that sent Tyler Seguin to Dallas. Brendan recalls the day the trade went down, as he was hanging out with Reilly that July 4.

“The thing was, the first time we saw it was on Twitter. We were just on the couch and [see] ‘Reilly Smith is traded for Seguin with Loui Eriksson‘ and the whole deal,” Brenda said Friday. “We were kind of thrown off, and then when we thought about it, we thought it was a great fit for him. He could earn his position and go in and play hard.

“I knew going up, he worked really hard in the offseason. I wouldn’t say he was nervous, but he was really adamant [about] going into camp in really good shape and trying to earn a good spot on the team. Look what he’s done. He’s done a great job, and you’ve seen him. He’s a mature kid for his age, so it’s a been a testament to him. I have to give him a lot of credit.”

Brendan, 25, and Reily, 25, speak to one another regularly, though they will cut back on the commincuatin during this series. Brendan said that he and Reilly spoke plenty about the goal-scoring slump Reilly went through after scoring 18 goals in his first 52 games with Boston and only scoring two the rest of the way.

“I told him, ‘Keep shooting.’ The thing we talked about is, a basketball player goes through a slump and they’re throwing up bricks. The only way to get out of that is to continue to shoot until you get your rhythm back,” Brendan recalled. “That’s something that I try to keep telling him, and don’t be discouraged by it.

“Everybody goes through things like that, cold streaks. It’s natural. We talk all the time about different little things.”

Both Smith brothers now have major roles on there team. Though Brendan was a healthy scratch earlier in the season, he is now on Detroit’s top pairing alongside Niklas Kronwall. That should mean he’ll see plenty of Reilly, who is Boston’s second-line right wing.

The brothers, who have faced each other seven times in the NHL (including preseason) had always wanted to play each other in big roles with something important on the line. They just didn’t know it would ever happen.

“I mean, we envisioned that,” Brendan said. “That’s something that everybody envisions as a young guy, coming up and wanting to play. ‘€¦ You want to have that confidence where you can play the top lines, because if you don’t, you’re not going to be there. You’re not going to have that confidence and you’re going to find yourself in the minors. Yeah, we envisioned it, but I guess it’s exciting to have it actually happen and actually fit into that position.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Every Stanley Cup playoff series got a head start on the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Now, on Friday night, Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins get their chance to show how ready they are after a league-best 117 points in the regular season.

Every Stanley Cup playoff series got a head start on the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings. Now, on Friday night, Patrice Bergeron and the Bruins get their chance to show how ready they are after a league-best 117 points in the regular season.

“It was great to have those games and get in the mode of playoff hockey and watching it all helps to get a focus,” Bergeron said Friday morning after participating in a light optional skate before Friday’s Game 1 at TD Garden. “I was getting antsy just watching, for sure. You want to get out there, you want to get going. It’s nice that it’s finally tonight.

“I’m not rooting for anyone except us right now so I’m just watching games and like I said, it helps me getting focused just by watching it and being ready for tonight.”

The biggest break for the Bruins and the Red Wings is that they’ve had a full four days off since the regular season ended on Sunday.

“I think it’s good for everyone, just with the schedule we’ve had after the [Olympic] break. It was pretty crazy so it was good everyone to get ready and now we’re looking forward to it.”

As for coming into the playoffs with the Presidents’ Trophy in tow, Bergeron said he’s not worried about the pressure of being No. 1.

“I think we high expectations of ourselves so the outside pressure has never been something that we should really worry about. It’s about us right now. It’s about making sure we only worry about what’s in this room and we know we’re a good team and have to take it a game at a time.”

“First of all, there’s nothing you can control. It is what it is and that’s the schedule and you just have to go with it. I think we’ve done that. We’ve had three days of practice to get ready for the Red Wings and I think that’s a good thing. It’s starts tonight and that’s all we can really focus on.”

During the series, Bergeron will be often matched up against veteran Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk. It’s a matchup that everyone has their eyes on.

“It’s always a great challenge,” Bergeron said. “He’s a terrific player and he’s won before he’s really a great player, tough to play against. It’s a great challenge for everyone.”

Blog Author: 
Mike Petraglia
Andrej Meszaros played 14 games for the Bruins in the regular season. (AP)

Andrej Meszaros played 14 games for the Bruins in the regular season. (AP)

Matt Bartkowski was once again not on the ice Friday for the Bruins’ morning skate, meaning he has not skated at all this week. Bartkowski, who was spotted in the Bruins’ dressing room Friday after showering, may have been one of the Bruins battling the flu this week.

With Bartkowski’s status for Game 1 against the Red Wings in question (Claude Julien is not giving updates on his players), Andrej Meszaros could be called upon to play Friday night to play on the second pairing alongside Johnny Boychuk. If he is, he says he’s ready.

“Yeah, if I play, I’m ready to go,” Meszaros said Friday morning. “I can’t wait actually to start the playoffs. It should be fun.”

The Bruins acquired Meszaros, a left shot defenseman who can play both sides, at the trade deadline from the Flyers for a conditional draft pick. Assuming everyone on Boston’s back end is healthy, Meszaros would likely serve as an extra defenseman.

The fact that the Bruins’ opponent is Detroit makes the situation all the more interesting, as Meszaros had one of his worst games as a Bruin in Boston’s 3-2 loss to the Red Wings on April 2. Meszaros, who was paired with Boychuk for that contest, was a minus-2 in the game and was exposed by Detroit’s speed.

In particular, Darren Helm flew by him in the neutral zone with the B’s on the power play in the second period before Tuukka Rask stopped the shorthanded bid. He was also on the ice for Tomas Jurco’s game-tying goal in the third period.

“They’re a really, really good team,” Meszaros said. “They have a lot of skill and a lot of speed. We have to be ready for that and match their intensity. It’s going to be a fast game.

“We should have won that game, but obviously we didn’t,” he added. “We had a lot of chances. [Jimmy] Howard played way too good. You have to put pucks on net and get traffic in font and get as much traffic as we can. When you go to the net, you’ve got score goals.”

Meszaros was rotated in and out of the Bruins’ lineup down the stretch and has played 14 games with two goals and there assists for five points with the B’s. He admitted there was an adjustment when he came over, but says he’s all caught up now.

“I understand everything. Everything is fine now,” Meszaros said. “I know the system, so it’s just about execution and playing hard and playing the right way that they want me to play.”

Blog Author: 
DJ Bean

Bruins forward Daniel Paille skated with defenseman Adam McQuaid prior to Friday’s morning skate, which might suggest he will not be in the lineup for Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs against the Red Wings. Paille has been out since last Saturday with what appeared to be a head injury.