98.5 The Sports Hub's Felger & Massarotti

BOSTON (CBS) — The Boston Bruins look to take a commanding 3-1 series lead over the Red Wings Thursday night with a win in Game 4 of their first round playoff series.

The Bruins took control of Game 3 early and never let go, and team president Cam Neely said they’ll need to do the same when the puck drops Thursday night.

“We need another strong start. Our start in Game 3 was fantastic; skating well and making it difficult for them to create in the neutral zone or offensive zone. As cliche as it sounds, this will be the hardest game for us so far,” Neely told 98.5 The Sports Hub’s Felger & Mazz Thursday afternoon. “We have to be prepared for their best game.”

Boston’s Game 3 win on Tuesday wasn’t without some controversy. Forward Brad Marchand was accused of embellishing a knee-to-knee hit from Detroit defenseman Brandon Smith, falling to the ice and grabbing his leg — the wrong leg — with Smith being assessed a two minute penalty for tripping.

While many think Marchand took a dive, Neely doesn’t believe that was the case.

“I know he was hurt after that. Anytime you get a knee on knee hit you never really know unless you’re the person it happens to,” said Neely. “I know sometimes it’s a reactionary thing from the player that initiates the knee-on-knee and it’s not necessarily intentional.

“If this wasn’t Brad Marchand this would be a non-discussion,” he said, noting Marchand’s history of taking a dive or two. “It comes with the territory for Brad and it doesn’t really bother him. He knows what he needs to do to be successful in this league and he does it well.”

Felger believes that Marchand embellished the injury, and asked Neely if Marchand’s style goes against the style of play the Bruins have prided themselves on for decades.

“If you look at the history of the organization, over 90 years, you’ll see variations of players like Brad. The bottom line is we have a certain style that we like to play, our fans like to see us play, and we expect to play hard, work hard and give an honest effort. Brad does all those things. He can be frustrating at times, and if he was on another team I think our fan-base would probably have a dislike for him, but he’s playing for the Bruins.”

The conversation shifted to Milan Lucic’s “spearing” of Wings defenseman Danny DeKeyser in Game 1. Lucic was fined $5,000 for the “stick work” he used on DeKeyser, and Neely was not a fan of his forward’s actions. But he said Lucic understood what he did, and didn’t need any pep talk from higher-ups in the organization.

“The way the game is covered now, so many things used to happen behind the play that no one would see or talk about. But I don’t think it’s very necessary to go into it with Milan, because he knew he did something he shouldn’t have done.”

Neely said the same kind of thing happened to him throughout his career, though he wasn’t sure if he did it to any opposing players.

“Probably, but it’s hard for me to really recall,” he said. “Things happen in the heat of the moment, the heat of the battle, so there are a lot of cheap shots over the course of a game or career.”

When Felger asked Neely how such a hit felt, the B’s president had a little fun.

“You could tell me,” Neely joked. “We could set that up.”

Neely also talks about the new playoff format and how it’s good for creating division rivalries, and gave a quick update on defenseman Dennis Seidenberg:

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