Andy Brickley on the Bruins – Habs Match-Up
So Andy, how do you feel the Bruins will fare in their first round match-up with Montreal?
Well it’s hard to get your hands around it given the teams that they’ve played and the lack of meaning that the games had over the last week or so. I think, first and foremost, I like their health. It seems like they have all hands on deck, which is a good thing because it’s depth and their balance this year. That being said, I can only make an educated guess that they’ll be ready to play. They’ll be emotionally involved and I love the fact that they’re playing Montreal in the first round, because they know they have to be emotionally involved right off the bat, so that I like.
So much buzz has surrounded the Zdeno Chara’s hit on Montreal’s Max Pacioretty. Does that just add more fuel to the fire this time around?
Yeah, I think going into Montreal games 3-4 and the circus that will be because of the recent history between the two teams, specifically that hit, will definitely add fuel to the fire. It will be a charged atmosphere, more so than it normally is. Again, I just hope that the core group of the Bruins team that has been through the playoff wars of the last 3-4 years has learned, because they played Montreal, have learned how to best deal with such situations.
What’s the biggest difference between this team and last year’s sqaud?
[Last year] they didn’t replace Phil Kessel when they traded him. They made a trade for the future, obviously you could argue the merits of that deal, but for that particular team they really didn’t replace Kessel as far as a scoring right winger for Marc Savard. That being said, this team is more balanced, its deeper. I think its competes harder man-by-man. I think they’re a little more physical. I think their ‘a heavier team’ to steal a phrase that the Bruins management team likes to use.
What do you think the fans can expect from the Bruins?
My expectations for this first round is that they want to play really physical with Montreal, I think Montreal expects it and I don’t want the Bruins to disappoint them, but in order to do they have to skate like they have in that 7-0 win at home. That was the best the Bruins skated in the season series. And if they don’t bring that skating game, then no matter what you want to do, in terms of being physical and Xs and Os and special teams, if you do not matching the skating game of Montreal or close to it, then your in trouble.
How do the head-to-head match-ups look?
Most of the time, Montreal will try to use a very aggressive two-man forecheck, to force the Bruins to have to turn, go pick up pucks and make plays under a speedy forecheck rather than a heavy physical forecheck. If Boston can manage that, if they can handle that forechecking game, the speed game of Montreal, I think that’s the only advantage Montreal will have. If they are successful on an aggressive skating forechecking game where they pursue the puck, and if you get off your game and allow them to have powerplays.
Otherwise I like Boston in just about every other area of the game.
What Bruin needs to step up their game come crunch time?
I want the two center pillars to be the absolute best players on the ice this series, [defenseman] Zdeno Chara and [goaltender] Tim Thomas. If they don’t give me the game that I expect them to give me, now you’re relying on too many other guys to make up for that drop off. So my expectation is that they will bring their A-games, they will be the best players on the ice in the long run in the series. They don’t have to be the best player every minute of every game, but play their game to be dominate difference-makers than I like Boston to go deep into the postseason.
I like Boston in six.