|02.07.17 at 5:11 pm ET|
The Bruins have tuned the outside media noise out before and they’ll have to, at some point in the very near future, do it again. But they’re human, too, and sometimes even the noise gets too loud to ignore.
But rarely was it as obvious a weight as it was on this Bruins team.
Prior to his Tuesday morning firing, rumors swirled about Claude Julien’s future again and again and again. It even hit the point where Julien himself decided to address the rumors after a seemingly easygoing Saturday practice last month. He said he wasn’t quitting and that he was willing to work through the hard times to make it work.
Julien had the support of his two biggest voices in the locker room, too, as both alternate captain Patrice Bergeron and team captain Zdeno Chara went to bat for him that day. They both said Julien was still their coach, that they believed in the coach and that the messages conveyed and the lessons taught to the club were resonating.
And Claude and the team’s best players did that while the front office — namely general manager Don Sweeney and team president Cam Neely — stayed silent and remained the Carmen Sandiego of NHL GMs and presidents.
That without question allowed his uncertain future to become a distraction long before the Bruins cut the cord with Julien.
|02.07.17 at 1:32 pm ET|
The Bruins have had several opportunities to fire coach Claude Julien this year. There were several times where the team probably should have ended their night or began their morning with the severing of the ties between themselves and their coach of a decade.
But Tuesday morning, just hours away from a parade to celebrate Boston’s 10th championship since 2002, this one after another massive Patriots Super Bowl comeback, was not the time. Unless you’re the Bruins, of course, who specialize in this sort of piss-poor timing.
“I didn’t pick this day to take away from the great accomplishment of the New England Patriots,” Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said to begin his press conference at Warrior Ice Arena.
(No, of course not, but it sure helped you guys get this one out there.)
Make no mistake about it, this was a move that anybody and everybody knew was coming.
Firing Julien wasn’t a matter of if, but rather when.
But the Bruins’ when showed more cowardice than anything else.
|02.07.17 at 8:25 am ET|
Many were wondering not if, but when. Now they know.
The Bruins finally made the move so may have been anticipating, firing coach Claude Julien Tuesday morning. They will be replacing Julien on an interim basis with assistant coach Bruce Cassidy.
Julien, who was in his 10th season with the Bruins, compiled a record of 419-246-96 in Boston, with the B’s making the playoffs in seven of his previous nine seasons. He led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011.
This will be Cassidy’s second stint as an NHL head coach, having served in the same capacity with the Washington Capitals from 2002-04.
The Bruins are currently on the outside looking in at the Eastern Conference playoff picture, sitting in the ninth spot with a record of 26-23-6.
|02.05.17 at 5:28 pm ET|
The Bruins are sports fans, too.
And decked out in Patriots gear delivered to the team on Friday at Warrior Ice Arena, it’s no surprise who the Patriots are pulling for tonight in Super Bowl LI between the Pats and Falcons.
It was in 2015 that Milan Lucic picked the Pats to beat the Seahawks 27-24 (the final score was 28-24 in favor of the Patriots), so I had to ask this new group of Bruins who they picked and the final score.
Matt Beleskey: Patriots 35, Falcons 27.
An Ontario native (and a noted Blue Jays fan), Beleskey is all in on Boston, and the Patriots are included in that. The hard-hitting winger is confidently picking the Patriots, and expects Julian Edelman to score the game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.
Jimmy Hayes: Patriots 35, Falcons 21.
The Dorchester native is obviously a Patriots fan, and when asked about who he’s picking for this game, he without hesitation said, “Oh, the Patriots.” When asked for a score, Hayes wanted to try and line it up with his squares, so he’s taking the Patriots by 14 in a 35-to-21 final.
Tim Schaller: Patriots 31, Falcons 24.
A New Hampshire native, Schaller is amped for this game and knows the importance of that fifth Super Bowl title. “If they win this one, it’s almost like I’d be content with them not winning it again,” Schaller said. But as a New Englander he knows these games are never blowouts, even if you expect them, and he expects another close one.
Zane McIntyre: Patriots 28, Falcons 24.
A Vikings fan growing up (though he admits it’s been hard to get to games because the hockey schedule and football schedule collide), McIntyre expects a game. “The defenses will be flying around, it’ll be a good one,” McIntyre said. “Barnburner.”
Joe Morrow: Patriots 34, Falcons 24.
A fantasy football champion this season, Morrow knows what he’s talking about when it comes to football. Well, in a way. He initially picked the Patriots by 10, but when pressed for a score he said, “34 to 24 — is that possible?” Oh yes, very possible.
Brandon Carlo: Patriots win by three.
Wearing a Patriots shirt after practice on Friday, I had to ask the Colorado native the obvious question: Aren’t you a Broncos fan? The 20-year-old admitted that he did like the Broncos when he lived back home, but that he wants to root for the Boston teams now that he’s here. In awe of what Tom Brady is doing at his age, Carlo didn’t have a score, but he did like the Pats by three.
Frank Vatrano: Patriots win by 12.
The East Longmeadow native didn’t have a score, but he’s taking the Pats by 12.
|02.05.17 at 12:04 am ET|
If this loss happened to the Bruins a month ago, it stings, but they learn from it and move forward. If this loss happens against a team from the Western Conference tomorrow, they likely do the same.
But to lose this game, a 6-5 loss on TD Garden ice, to these Maple Leafs, who are now just one point behind the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic and with five games in hand, well that’s just plain rotten.
Entering action with a 37 percent chance of making the playoffs, and with a chance for that figure to bump up another seven percent with a win, the Bruins instead lost, and saw their playoff hopes dip over nine percent, down to 27.8 percent. The Bruins, who have not had a winning streak longer than three games this season, were already up against the percentages when it came to their playoff aspirations, are now in a situation where they’ll likely have to nab 65 percent of the remaining 54 points on their schedule.
Three-goal comeback from 4-1 down? Valiant effort, sure, but who cares, you still lost.
There are no moral victories left for this team.
It’s just the truth of this team’s situation.
Already entrenched in must-win territory in February, the Bruins lost perhaps the biggest game of the month’s rest-heavy slate.
|02.04.17 at 10:10 pm ET|
It ran long at times, but Saturday night at TD Garden had it all.
It was past 8 p.m. before the first period came to an end. The third period did not begin until 9:30 p.m. the home crowd didn’t wanna leave. In an Original Six matchup with meaning — the Maple Leafs came to Boston on a three-game losing skid and three points behind the Bruins for third place in the Atlantic Division — the Bruins and Leafs called back to the days of old with the blood feud of a near century-long rivalry. They countered with goals, agitation, and a fight.
The Leafs even blew a 4-1 lead. Playoff hockey? Yeah, it’s here.
As close as it can be in February for these desperate clubs.
|02.04.17 at 9:17 pm ET|
Since the last one didn’t work, here’s another reminder to the NHL: Fighting Adam McQuaid is still a bad idea.
It may even border on a stupid idea, at this point.
With the Bruins in search of a spark in a listless second period, McQuaid engaged with Maple Leafs forward Matt Martin.
In a battle of true NHL heavyweights — McQuaid is listed at 6-foot-4 and 212 pounds while Martin checks in at 6-foot-3 and 220 pounds — the towering duo traded blow for blow before landed the knockout punch and sent Martin back to the room.
The energy was felt throughout the bench.
“McQuaid stood up and woke some of the guys up with that scrap,” Julien admitted, “it seemed to give us some life.”
“It was obviously an amazing fight by both guys,” Patrice Bergeron said. “Adam has always been a huge influence on a lot of guys. He’s very quiet but he always works hard and goes about his business. He stands up for his teammates.”
Bruins forward Austin Czarnik said it was the loudest he’s heard the TD Garden all season.
The fight was McQuaid’s team-leading fourth fight of the season.