Milan Lucic (left, celebrating with Matt Bartkowski and David Krejci after Bartkowski's first-period goal) came up big for the Bruins in Monday night's Game 7. (AP)
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.”
There has been speculation that the Bruins might consider changing up their lines to spark the offense, but Pederson said he doesn’t expect many alterations.
“The way we saw that overtime goal by [Patrice] Bergeron, when you watch the replay, you look at [Brad] Marchand and [Tyler] Seguin, and they were battling for that puck, the way they were going to the net, that looked like that line of old,” Pederson said. “I think he starts off with that line. I think you want to try and reward them for what just happened. You know the [David] Krejci line is set. Then you just have to adjust with injuries and matchups, you see what’s going on.
“They’ve got a tough test here with the New York Rangers. They obviously had a difficult season as well, but they’re riding high right now also.”
To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.