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Bruins coach Claude Julien addresses rumors: ‘I’m not quitting on anybody’

01.21.17 at 2:06 pm ET
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Claude Julien won't quit on this Bruins team. (USA Today Sports)

Claude Julien won’t quit on this Bruins team. (USA Today Sports)

Not even 12 hours after Bruins head coach Claude Julien opted not to comment on his job security or future, noting that he’s not a fan of ‘shock-journalism’, the embattled man behind the B’s bench for the last 10 years decided to entertain the question when it was asked Saturday.

“My job is coach a hockey club. Am I worried about my job? No I’m not, because it’s not my job to worry about it,” Julien commented. “My job is to fix things like I mentioned. I think my job is to coach this team and try to do everything I can. And if I become one of the reasons that we’re not doing well, well then I think management has to make that decision. It’s not my decision to make.”

Even if it was his decision to make, Julien would not bail on this situation for the potential greener pastures of a new start elsewhere.

“I’m not quitting on this team,” the former Jack Adams winner affirmed, “I’m not quitting on management.”

With a cooler head than the one he came into the TD Garden press room with last night, and the raw emotion of the club’s third straight loss (a 1-0 final to the Blackhawks decided with just 1:26 left in the third period) behind him, Julien in detail his willingness to work through the struggles experienced by this growing club on a night-to-night basis and his belief in the process.

“I’m willing to go through the hard times, and I said that at the end of last year. If it’s deemed my fault, then I shouldn’t be here,” Julien, the franchise’s all-time winningest coach, admitted. “That’s all I can say. But that’s not my decision to make. And if we’re going with what we said we’d go with and saying there’s going to be some growing pains along the way, so be it.”

A team with losses in seven of their last 10 games, the pressure on the Bruins to make a change is obvious. But it’s not going to change the way that Julien, who admitted that he’s tried to find new ways to come to the rink with new energy and mindsets amid the struggles, coaches or prepares for the mission he had at the start of the year.

“We put ourselves in a position early in the season to maybe be one of those teams that all of a sudden we believe we’re a playoff team, absolutely. I still think we’re a playoff team,” Julien continued, “whether we can do it or not, we’ll know at the end of the year, but my job is still to do everything I can to get us into the playoffs and that’s what I’m gonna do.”

As for the rumors, Julien knows that they are out there, and that they will continue be there.

“But I don’t worry about [rumors], because worrying is wasting a lot of my time. My time is about trying to fix things here.”

Bruins did almost everything right in loss to Blackhawks, but it still wasn’t enough

01.20.17 at 11:26 pm ET
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The Bruins held Chicago's most dangerous weapons off the scoreboard. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins held Chicago’s most dangerous weapons off the scoreboard. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins played a near perfect game against the Blackhawks.

A visibly frustrated Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews was held to zero points. Same for superstar Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, and Brent Seabrook. Artemi Panarin, held to just one shot and two attempts in 22:49 of time on ice, was practically smothered to death by the Bruins.

For 58 minutes — no, strike that, a full 60 minutes — the Bruins did everything they had to do and more to shut the Hawks’ top talents down. But sneakily buried on the Blackhawks’ third line, it was Marian Hossa that made something out of nothing with a game-winning goal scored with just 1:26 left in the third period of a 1-0 final.

“I think we competed hard but then again you’re dealing with some growing pains and we had an icing late in the game so that’s not necessary, but the winning goal that goes through three of our guys and it’s in our net with a minute-and-a-half left,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after the loss. “We have to stand there again, take the responsibility for our own actions. It’s unfortunate because that minute-and-a-half that was left in the game kind of tarnished everything we had done for the first whatever – 58 minutes. I thought we played pretty well against a good team.

“We had contained the guys that we needed to contain.”

It just so happened that Hossa’s goal was the worst possible break for the Bruins in that it was a three-on-four effort that sees a puck goes through three Bruins players en route to the back of Tuukka Rask’s net. It’s a script so bad it could only fit this year’s Bruins team as a team that’s become the embodiment of the anything that can go wrong will go wrong philosophy.

“They were playing faster, and a play at the end ends up in the back of our net with a minute left and a disappointing finish to, you know, what we thought we played a pretty solid game all around,” Torey Krug, one of the players on the ice for the goal, said. “But time and time again — we’re not in it for moral victories. We’ve got to start plucking points if we want to stay in this thing.”

And that’s what this really comes back down to for the Bruins.

This team is beyond the point of moral victories. They exited when 2016 became 2017. This is a Bruins team that’s in a straight-up dogfight for a playoff spot, and things are not looking good, especially with losses in seven of their last 10 games.

“These are the kind of games you kind of have to learn to win,” Rask, who made 21 saves in the loss, said. “When it’s a low-scoring game in the third period, and it’s just one of those things. They made a nice play at the end and got rewarded, and we didn’t.

“But we just have to stick the course, and keep plugging away.”

Claude Julien won’t talk possibility of losing job: ‘I’m not into shock journalism’

01.20.17 at 10:48 pm ET
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The Bruins have lost three games in a row and six of their last 10 overall. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins have lost three games in a row and six of their last 10 overall. (Aaron Doster/USA Today Sports)

Bruins head coach Claude Julien probably doesn’t make TMZ appointment viewing.

In what was the club’s third straight loss, a 1-0 final against the Blackhawks in which Chicago veteran Marian Hossa scored the game-winning goal with just 1:26 left in the third period in a three-on-four, Julien was once again forced to lament what could have been for a Bruins group that’s now dropped 14 one-goal games this season.

But when the topic shifted away from the efforts of a hard luck loss and about his job security, the B’s coach of 10 seasons opted not to answer.

“Well I’m not into shock-journalism so I’ll stay away from that question if you don’t mind,” Julien said before ending his media availability and exiting stage right and making his way back to the B’s dressing room. 

With the loss tonight, the Bruins have losses in six of their last 10 games, while their playoff chances took a 6.4% hit, according to, and the vultures have started circled Julien like never before in his decade-long run in town.

For now, however, Julien remains the man behind the Bruins bench, and his team isn’t going to get caught up in the frenzy.

“It’s the question people ask every year, and we’re just players,” Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask said when asked if he’s concerned about management making any changes — be it coaching or personnel — given the club’s slide. “I think we’re just focused on doing our job as good as we can, and trying to get those wins. Obviously, losing three games is not great, but I think as players, the only thing we can focus on is playing the game the way we want to play it, and trying to get the win.”

It doesn’t get much easier for Julien and the Bruins, though, as they’ll travel to Pittsburgh to take on the defending Stanley Cup winners for a Sunday head-to-head with a Penguins group that’s lost just four of 23 home games this season.

Bruins blow another one as Blackhawks’ Marian Hossa scores with 1:26 left in third period

01.20.17 at 9:29 pm ET
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The Bruins put forth a mild effort in a loss to the Blackhawks. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

The Bruins put forth yet another mild effort. this time against the Blackhawks Friday night at TD Garden. (Bob DeChiara/USA Today Sports)

Supposedly, the Bruins are a desperate team.

In what was their league-high 49th game of the season, the Bruins had the tall task of squaring up with the Blackhawks. The Bruins, of course, came into this game following back-to-back losses against two of the worst teams in the Eastern Conference for four more easy points left on the table, and clinging to the third place in the Atlantic Division by a mere two points, and have played at least two more games than all of the teams chasing them. This game also marked the start of a weekend slate that concludes with a Sunday road game against the Penguins, a team that’s lost in their building just four times in 23 tries this year.

Oh, and the Bruins are probably, most definitely, without question playing for Claude Julien’s future behind the bench, too.

But that desperation could not be found Friday night at TD Garden, as the Bruins to the ‘Hawks fell by a 1-0 final.

In a 17-shot first period (the Bruins doubled the Blackhawks up in attempts, too, 30-to-15), the Bruins rarely (if at all), found high-quality scoring chances against Blackhawks netminder Scott Darling. Everything came from the outside, and there was nothing to be had in the middle of the ice. In the second period, the Bruins mixed it up, sacrificing shot volume for shot quality, but still could not find a single tally on their 25 shots through the first two periods of play as a 0-0 game rolled on in Boston.

Then came a third period in which the Bruins did not even put a shot on the goal for the opening seven minutes plus, and waited until they were on the penalty kill to rifle their first two shots of the frame on Darling. They put another two on by the 18:34 mark of the third period, but not before the Blackhawks finally put one on the board with Marian Hossa’s 17th goal of the season.

After another moribund effort with the Bruins calling themselves a desperate group, you just have to wonder when such a mindset and effort is going to actually show up for a full 60 minutes, and when it’s going to impact the standings. The Bruins have hemorrhaged points at an alarming rate this season, and they are quickly digging themselves into a hole that will be too large to work out of by the time April rolls back around, and it’s all come under the guise of this team calling themselves desperate.

The Bruins can say what they want, but Friday night showed that they look like anything but a desperate hockey team.

And if not now, when?

Bruins coach Claude Julien keeping focus on task at hand vs. Blackhawks

01.20.17 at 5:21 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien is looking forwards, not backwards. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Bruins coach Claude Julien is looking forwards, not backwards. (Rick Osentoski/USA Today Sports)

Bruins head coach Claude Julien was at a loss for words Wednesday night. The wound was still fresh. The Bruins, who had jumped out to a 3-0 lead and then a 4-1 lead, had somehow blown it, falling to the Red Wings by a 6-5 shootout final for their sixth loss in their last nine tries.

And two days later, with the Bruins set for a weekend slate from hell against the Blackhawks and Penguins that begins tonight at TD Garden, Julien didn’t feel like revisiting that discouraging night.

“I’m thinking about Chicago,” Julien, channeling his inner Bill Belichick, said. “That’s where the focus is. Chicago.

“We got a game to play here tonight. That’s what we got to do.”

It feels as if the vultures have been circling Julien, who is in his 10th season behind the B’s bench, since Bruins general manager Don Sweeney subtly hinted at the idea of a coaching change to the Boston Globe before the start of the team’s four-game road trip almost two weeks ago. (The Bruins are 3-6-1 since then.)

Wednesday night had the feel of a death knell from Julien, too, especially with the way that the Bruins lost. But after another canceled practice Thursday, and without a coaching change made by a desperate front office, Julien feels his team is centered for what’s ahead, and has made some changes in an effort to counteract some of what the Blackhawks will bring to the table.

One of the biggest changes that Julien has made ahead of tonight’s game includes moving David Backes back to the wing after one game at his natural center position, with Riley Nash as his center (and Ryan Spooner to the left) of the B’s third line. The Bruins will also get winger Matt Beleskey, who has been on the shelf with a knee injury for the last 23 contests, back in action for the first time since Dec. 3 and on a fourth line with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik.

“We need better balance as far as offensive and defensive balance,” Julien admitted after the morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “We’re just trying to move players around here and Backes has been playing the wing quite a bit this year and has done a good job there, so we moved Nash to the middle there and we’ll see how that goes.”

“We have to take it one game at a time and get that focus back on what’s ahead of us,” Backes, a minus-3 Wednesday night against the Red Wings and with just one point in his last five games, said. “We can’t sit in the past or we’re bound to duplicate it.”

“You fix things and move forward,” Julien said.

Bruins winger Matt Beleskey to return vs. Blackhawks

01.20.17 at 1:05 pm ET
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B's winger Matt Beleskey will return to action against the Blackhawks Friday at TD Garden. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

B’s winger Matt Beleskey will return to action against the Blackhawks Friday at TD Garden. (Brad Rempel/USA Today Sports)

It’s been tough to watch the Bruins struggle again and again this year. It’s been even tougher for heart-and-soul winger Matt Beleskey, out of action for the last month and a half, to watch the Bruins struggle.

Thumped out of action on a hit from the Sabres’ Taylor Fedun in the first period of a Dec. 3 matinee against the Sabres, and after having missed the last 23 games with a knee injury as a result of that hit, Beleskey will finally draw back into action tonight when the Bruins square off with the Blackhawks at TD Garden.

“I definitely think I’m ready to go — I’m going, so,” Beleskey, who traveled with the team to Detroit but did not play, said following the B’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena. “I’m excited to get back out there.”

Skating on a fourth line with Dominic Moore and Austin Czarnik for the skate in place of Anton Blidh (who has gone 12 games without a point and has a minus-4 rating over that span), Beleskey’s return to action tonight was confirmed by B’s coach Claude Julien after the on-ice portion of the morning.

“We’ll give him a shot tonight,” Julien said.

“You just got to keep it simple and do what I do well and be hard on pucks, get on the body, and just try to find your groove,” Beleskey said, “you can’t expect too much in your first game back. You just want to keep it simple and be able to contribute.”

Production was an issue for Beleskey prior to the injury, with just two goals and five points in 24 games after registering a career-high 37 points a year ago, but the 28-year-old does look at this return to action as a fresh start of sorts.

“It’s been seven weeks now, that’s a long time,” Beleskey said, “it’s time to start fresh and put together a good second half.”

The Bruins are at the roster limit with Beleskey still listed on the injured reserve, so they will have to make a move of some sort, be it putting either Colin Miller (lower-body) or Kevan Miller (concussion) on the injured reserve, or sending Blidh to the AHL.

Admiral’s mailbag: Is this really Claude Julien’s fault?

01.19.17 at 8:41 am ET
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Claude Julien. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Claude Julien. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)

Here it is …

After Monday’s no-show and last night’s meltdown, how much longer can Claude survive? Michael, Somerville, MA

That’s the million dollar question surrounding this team right now. Games like Monday make you think the Bruins coach won’t be around much longer. They team was a complete no-show and embarrassed themselves. Wednesday night in Detroit, the Bruins blew two separate three-goal leads before losing via shootout because they tried to sit on a three-goal cushion and it blew up in their faces.

But that loss was a hell of a lot more Ryan Spooner’s fault than Claude. The coach did not construct the roster that hasn’t provided David Krejci with a consistent left-wing commensurate with his talent. Yet the Bruins appear to be taking on the aura of a team that has to DO SOMETHING for the sake of doing it, be it a major trade or coaching change. Still, if Claude saw the end of the previous two seasons to the bitter end, the betting here is that he’ll be given a (last?) chance to get this team back to the playoffs.

Even though they’ve been stockpiling talent for a couple years, are you surprised by the Toronto Maple Leafs currently being in a playoff spot? Timmy, Florida, MA

I’m almost shocked that the Leafs are this good so soon into their rebuild. It’s like they’re way ahead of schedule. Though they have been drafting well in recent years, none of those players was Auston Matthews and the 19-year-old phenom from Arizona has somehow been better than advertised. The 6-foot-3 rookie already plays like a savvy 10-year-vet and the effect he has on his teammates is palpable.

The Leafs bumped the Ottawa Senators out of the Atlantic race for the time being and took over third place with 50 points. But they also have only played 42 games and have six games in hand on second place Boston and four on Montreal. Matthews’ 22-16—38 leads a dynamic rookie scoring class that has fellow Leafs in third (Mitch Marner) and fourth place (William Nylander). After a rough start, goalie Frederik Andersen has looked the #1 he was in Orange County. This squad is going to give the Bruins nightmares for years and it may well start in April when the playoffs kick off.

What’s wrong with Henrik Lundqvist? Dom, New Bedford, MA

Ouch. It’s been tough sledding for the photogenic Rangers netminder over the last month or so to put his numbers in the middle of the pack instead of the top five like we’ve been accustomed to. He’s currently sporting a meh 2.89 GAA and a pedestrian .902 save percentage. But he’s also just plain looked bad. Trouble with routine saves from all angles—-it’s not one thing.

It’s likely a combination of covering for a spotty D and the tremendous workload of the last decade or so finally catching up with him. He’s got a ton of miles on him. That’s not to say Hank is done—-far from it. However, he’ s in the biggest rut of his career and he’ll need to play his way out of it if the Rags are going to have any chance at making a run.

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