NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley joined the Dennis & Callahan show Wednesday morning for his weekly appearance, this time to discuss the aggressive and often dirty play seen in the NHL playoffs, as well as the state of the Bruins now three games into their series against the Capitals.
After two closely contested games in Boston, which the teams split, the Bruins were able to rebound from a Game 2 double-overtime loss for a win on the road in Game 3. For Brickley, the difference was simply that the Bruins came out harder and more aggressive than they had in the first two contests of the series.
"I think big picture is the fact that they played harder," Brickley said. "They competed harder and they won more battles.
"They were just fully engaged emotionally, mentally and physically. When they play that way, they are the superior team."
The series also took another important and decisive shift in Game 3 when the Capitals' Nicklas Backstrom cross-checked Rich Peverly at the end of the game, a hit that landed him a one-game suspension. Backstrom's absence could prove to be a very costly one in Game 4, according to Brickley.
"[It's] very significant," Brickley said. "Some people refer to him as the engine as far as their offense is concerned. It certainly gives them balance.
"It’s a significant loss. They have enough that they’ll give the Bruins a hard time, but without him their chances of winning go down dramatically."
Backstrom's hit, however, has been far from an isolated incident thus far in the playoffs, as games have been defined by big hits and the suspensions that have come about from them. While Capitals coach Dale Hunter defended Backstrom after the game, Brickley said that it's hard to rush to the defense of these players making these hits.
"If you look across the National Hockey League right now [with] what’s going on in the playoffs and the number of suspensions and how nasty it is, it’s hard to defend anything that some of these players are doing," Brickley said. "I think it’s a coach just trying to defend his player, hoping to get that penalty rescinded at the end of the game because Backstrom is a critical piece of his offense. Without him, they are not as good of a team and that puts them in a difficult position."
Taking a series of factors into consideration, most notably the way that the Bruins came out in Game 3 and Backstrom's suspension, Brickley said that the series has shifted decidedly in the Bruins' favor.
"The fact that the Bruins played the way that they wanted to play, not completely, but they looked more like the Boston Bruins and the style of the Boston Bruins want to play," Brickley said. "I think they raised their hate level for this team, which I think is a good thing.
"The absence of Backstrom, they delved into the young rookie goaltender’s mind, I think that all favors Boston. If Boston comes out, as I expect, to impose their will, I would expect them to win both games in Washington."
Following are more highlights from the conversation.
On what NHL officials have to think of the playoffs so far: "I don’t think they like it. I think they love that there’s a lot of one-goal games, there’s a lot of overtime, there’s a lot of parity, lower seeds can beat the higher seeds. I think they love all of that. I just think the nastiness … they’re looking for consistency, they’re looking for responsibility and some accountability from the players. If they start to get that the deeper they get into the playoffs, then the hockey becomes more of the focus than all of this nastiness that we’re watching. Brendan Shanahan has a difficult job. He’s basically the voice of authority that has to mete out all of the discipline and that is a challenging position to be in. He’s trying to do it right, but you’re never going to be in the right side of that argument in that kind of position of authority."
On whether the Capitals will channel the aggressiveness of other playoff teams: "I don’t think it’s in their makeup, I really don’t. One or two players, perhaps, but they want to play, I believe, the right way, which is the way the Bruins play. They want to man up, they want to be physical, they want to stay within the rules, they want to play playoff-style hockey, which is rough and tumble. You’ve got to get some penalties along the way, but I don’t think they want to be or have the reputation that they’re going to leave their feet to make hits, they’re going to blindside people, they’re going to run people from behind. It’s not in their makeup and it’s not in the Bruins' makeup."
On whether the crying gesture from Karl Alzner will motivate the Bruins the same way Alex Burrows' biting did in the Stanley Cup finals last year: "I don’t know if it’s on par with that, but it certainly gets players’ attention. The Bruins aren’t going to make a big deal out of it publicly, but they’re taking numbers for sure."
On Rafi Torres' hit on Marian Hossa in the Coyotes-Blackhawks series: "I think he’s a predator by nature. I can’t believe this guy hasn’t been suspended more times when I watch this guy play. The fact that the intent is to hurt, that he left his feet, I would expect a lengthy suspension because he’s a repeat offender."
Dr. Tony Schena joined the show to give insight into what lies ahead for Rob Gronkowski. He said a tough road is in front of the Patriots tight end.
We discuss the improbable win over the Browns and the loss of Rob Gronkowski with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick on Patriots Monday.
Ninkovich sits in with Mut and Merloni to look back at yesterday’s comeback win against the Browns. Rob also explains the range of emotions the team experienced after Rob Gronkowski suffered a potentially season ending injury.
Eagle checks in to give Grande and Max a perspective on the Brooklyn Nets after they acquired Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett via trade earlier this summer. He breaks down what he thinks the future holds for the Nets after completing this blockbuster deal.
Sean Grande and Cedric Maxwell take some time and look back at the history between the Celtics and the Lakers, specifically the legendary rivalry between Magic and Bird. Legendary broadcaster, Ian Eagle, checks in to give the Brooklyn perspective as KG and Paul Pierce settle into their new home. Sean and Max also reveal the behind the scenes details surrounding Max’s famous “I got the ball” moment.
In the first hour of this edition of the Celtics Summer Cooler, Grande and Max analyze the trade that sent Fab Melo out of Boston. Also in this hour, Max sets the story straight about his history with Larry Bird.
Buster joins Mut and Merloni live at the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Buster explains that the market for Stephen Drew has cooled off considerably and executives around the league believe he will return to Boston.
Hazen talks with Mut and Merloni about the on-going offseason process. Mike explains how the Red Sox dove in to free agency immediately after the team’s World Series win. He also explains how the team creates opportunities for young players that are ready to make the jump to the Major League level.
Cherington sits in with Mut and Lou to talk about the Red Sox heading into 2014. Ben breaks down the signing of Edward Mujica and what’s on the table at this year’s meetings.
Shawn Thornton joined the show and discussed the teams long layoff leading into their game tomorrow night in Montreal. He told the guys that he anticipates fighting being a part of hockey for years to come.
Lucic joins Danny Picard to talk some hockey after the team’s overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Danny asks Lucic about David Krejci’s game winner yesterday and hockey outsiders that are trying to change the game.
Shawn Thornton joined the show fresh off his big night at MSG and talked about his recent goal scoring prowess. Shawn said that no matter who his line mates are he is always going to be a fourth liner.
The top stories of the day as recounted by Kirk Minihane. Today the guys went over a list of the most annoying people to see on your flight.
The guys opened the show discussing the great reception Doc Rivers got last night at The Garden. They said it was not surprising and well deserved.
Boston College running back Andre Williams joined the show and discussed his record setting season. He said that he will work on his acceptance speech on the flight down to New York.
Jackie MacMullan joins the show to discuss the return of Doc Rivers to Boston and what really happened during the offseason that led to Doc's departure.
Brick joins Mut and Merloni to discuss Shawn Thornton's on ice actions last week against the Penguins and what type of suspension he may be facing.
Mut and Merloni react to Doc Rivers' emotional return to Boston and they discuss the way he left the Celtics.
We debate the hit, and what Shawn Thornton deserves to get and will get for a suspension from the NHL when he faces his discipline hearing on Friday for his K/O hit of the Penguins Brooks Orpik.
We check in with Jack Edwards of NESN and focus on the Bruins, and more specifically Sean Thornton's upcoming discipline hearing for his cheap-shot hit on Brooks Orpik of the Penguins.
We focus on multi-sport athletes in today's four topics at 4PM.
Ryder talks with WEEI.com's Chris Price about the Patriots upcoming game with the Cleveland Browns, and Stevan Ridley's status on the team.
Alex joins the show and gives his thoughts on the Jacoby Ellsbury deal, and what prospects the Red Sox have to fill the hole left in the lineup, or trade pieces to get a player who can fill the void.
John talks to Rob and gets his thoughts on the Yankees signing Jacoby Ellsbury, the Red Sox signing AJ Pierzynski, and Jarrod Saltalamacchia signing with Miami.
No Jenny Dell today, but Mikey's back and we're answering questions bitches!
We answer what you ask... and by we mean Salk, Holley and special guest Jenny Dell of NESN!
Answering questions, its what we do.
Kurkjian joins Mut and Merloni at the Winter Meetings to talk about the Red Sox plans on the market. Tim believes the Red Sox are not satisfied with their situation in center and are looking to add a veteran outfielder to the mix.More from this show
Millar sits in with the guys on location in Orlando at MLB's Winter Meetings. He covers all the bases with Mut and Lou on all the Red Sox free agent possibilities and potential trades.More from this show
Buster joins Mut and Merloni live at the Winter Meetings in Orlando. Buster explains that the market for Stephen Drew has cooled off considerably and executives around the league believe he will return to Boston.More from this show
We discuss the comers and goers for the Red Sox and the rest of MLB with former GM Steve Phillips, now of MLB Radio on Sirius XM.More from this show
We discuss the improbable win over the Browns and the loss of Rob Gronkowski with Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick on Patriots Monday.More from this show