A couple of hours before the Bruins pulled out a 2-1 overtime victory over the Blackhawks Wednesday night, a win that vaulted them into the NHL points lead, your faithful media correspondent caught up with NBC Sports hockey analyst Mike Milbury to gather his thoughts on the season, and the team’s quest to return to the Stanley Cup Final and emerge with the Cup this time.
Milbury, a former Bruins player and coach, has never been one to let his brain stifle an opinion his mouth wants to share. Naturally, the Walpole native has fully formed opinions on this year’s Bruins team, including what defenseman Charlie McAvoy needed to do to break his season-long goal-scoring drought.
“Shoot the puck, kid,’’ said Milbury. “Just shoot. Shoot, shoot, shoot it.’’
If there’s such a thing as accidental prescience, well, Milbury might have had that working in his favor Wednesday. After all, a few hours after those comments, lo and behold it was McAvoy who shot and scored the winner against Chicago, his first goal in 52 games this season.
Milbury, who was in the studio Sunday for NBC’s broadcast of the Bruins-Red Wings matinee (12:30 p.m.), of course had a few other thoughts on the state of Boston’s hockey team.
On what the Bruins need to do before the Feb. 24 trade deadline: “They’ve been trying desperately to fill a need beside [David] Krejci on the right side on the second line. Everybody will watch that to the finish line. Otherwise, it will continue to be community auditions over there.
“They’ve tried just about everybody. There have been plenty of guys they’ve given the opportunity to, but nobody seems to be able to own it. That’s why we’re now talking about options outside the organization.’’
On whether he saw David Pastrnak’s emergence as one of the elite offensive players in the NHL coming: “I don’t think anybody saw how good Pastrnak could be from the day he was drafted to what he is now. He’s been a revelation. I think everybody saw glimpses of what he was capable of doing. I didn’t know if he would get to this level where he’s challenging for the goal-scoring lead for the season. I don’t know if anyone is going to knock [Alexander Ovechkin, who has 40, as does Toronto’s Auston Matthews,two more than Pastrnak] off that perch. It’s been fun to watch him play and watch him evolve. He’s one of those guys you always like to have on your team, because there’s always a smile, always a good attitude, always a little glint in the eye that makes it fun to come to the rink.’’
On whether a trade is necessary for the Bruins to become the true front-runner in the Eastern Conference: “If I were in a position to do something with this team, I’d try pretty hard to get it done. I would be turning over lots of stones to see if we could get something that made sense, especially to get Krejci a right wing. This team is on the clock a little bit, with [Patrice Bergeron], Krejci, and [Zdeno] Chara all being older players. They’re going to run into a really good Washington team at one point or another. Pittsburgh is playing extremely well. The Lightning have finally found their rhythm. Those teams have depth of offense that the Bruins are a little shy on. But this is a really, really good team. There’s just a chance to make it a little bit better that they should be able to seize.’’