Pittsburgh radio host Mark Madden, who earned the enmity of Bruins fans earlier in the week when he insisted that Tuukka Rask is a mediocre goalie, joined Dennis & Callahan on Friday morning and was asked if his opinion has changed now that the Bruins have a 3-0 series lead.
“God knows, he’s had trouble winning the fourth game in the past, so I’d rather reserve judgment,” Madden said of Rask. “He’s played very well, the goalposts have done very well, too.
“But to me, the story of this series has been [David] Krejci and the job Claude Julien has done outcoaching Dan Bylsma,” Madden continued. “Bylsma did a better job in the third game, but he waited 120 minutes to make adjustments he should have been making after 40. Whereas Claude Julien has been one step ahead all the time. He’s coached an excellent series. Gutsy lineup change yanking [Matt] Bartkowski and putting [Andrew] Ference back in, but Ference has played very well. Those are the guys I give primary credit to.
“The Penguins just have not had an answer for David Krejci. He plays such a quiet game, but I mean that in a good way. Before you know it he’s open, a split-second after that it’s in the net. He’s just been amazing.”
Sidney Crosby remains pointless in this series, and while Patrice Bergeron is getting some credit for helping to keep Crosby quiet, Madden said the blame falls squarely on the Penguins.
“I think Crosby’s played a bigger role in Crosby’s disappearance,” Madden said. “I’ve got to be honest, the Penguins as a team have not handled adversity well, which is a disturbing pattern in the last four playoff years. I thought that the stars played a bit better for the Penguins in Game 3. But still, a loss is a loss, there’s no moral victories. And Crosby, [Evgeni] Malkin and [Kris] Letang have no points between them and are a combined minus-12. Like Mario Lemieux always used to say, ‘When you make the most money, you’ve got to do the most.’ And those guys make the most money.”
Matt Cooke, already reviled in Boston, has not earned any new friends with his chippy play in this series. Madden said he expects Cooke to be playing elsewhere next season.
Said Madden: “Matt Cooke is perceived by a lot of people — and I bought into it at first — into having a good playoffs because he’s [doing] a good job on the penalty kill and he’s been a good forechecker. But he has zero goals in the playoffs. How can any forward on the top three lines be perceived to be having a good playoffs if he has zero goals? Plus, he’s taken a ton of penalties. The Penguins will be well rid of Matt Cooke. That’s not to say he won’t help another team. But they’re just tired of his act. That’s in the locker room, too. … Guys are just tired of having to clean up his messes.”
Madden said he could see the Bruins having a letdown in Game 4 and the Penguins extending the series, although he said it isn’t likely that Pittsburgh could come all the way back.
“I could see the Penguins winning tonight. I could even see them winning Game 5. But it wouldn’t go any further than Game 6 back in Boston,” Madden said. “That would be a repeat, by the way, of what happened when the Penguins fell behind three games to nil against Philadelphia last season. But I think it’s far more likely it will end tonight.”
Madden opined that Bylsma should not return if the Penguins lose this series.
“I don’t know what their standard for Dan is. I would not bring him back,” Madden said. “And that doesn’t mean he’s not a good coach or hasn’t done a good job. But for this group of talent, to have put together the playoff record it has since 2009, it’s very disturbing. … This is two years in a row now they’ve been down three games to none in a playoff series. I’m not saying a team with Crosby and Malkin should never lose a playoff series; I am saying they should never, ever be down three games to none, and it’s happened twice in a row now.”
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