Julien: Fear factor ‘a lot of BS’
|04.14.09 at 4:40 pm ET|
One of the great things about the Stanley Cup playoffs is the fact that you start to see real personality come out in players – and coaches.
Just listen to Claude Julien when he was asked about his team’s approach to the playoffs this season as the No. 1 seed as opposed to 12 months ago when his eighth-seeded Bruins nearly shocked the hockey world by forcing a Game 7 in the first round after falling behind 3 games to 1.
He’s not about to let his team believe that Montreal ‘fears’ the No. 1 seed Bruins, a team that beat Montreal five times in six meetings, quite the role reversal from Montreal’s 13-game winning streak heading into Game 3 last spring.
“I’m not big on stats,” Julien said at Tuesday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. “To me, it’s a lot of BS. What’s going to count is what happens on the ice. I hear all this stuff, history between the two organizations, No. 1 seeds, everybody has to write something but we don’t listen to it. We just have to go out there and play. Honestly, I’ve never put a lot of thought into that stuff.”
Well, as Julien said, writers and those who cover the sport with a passion HAVE put a lot of thought and energy into what will be the 32nd lifetime meeting in the playoffs when the series opens Thursday night at TD Banknorth Garden. And here are some quick and some obvious observations.
First, the roles between the two Original Six franchises could hardly be more reversed from 12 months ago. The Bruins with 53 wins and 116 points, tied San Jose for wins and finished just one point shy of the Sharks, who won the Presidents’ Trophy. The Canadiens limped to the finish with 41 wins and 93 points and a GM for a coach in Bob Gainey.
Last year, it was the Bruins who didn’t qualify for the playoffs until the final weekend and the Canadiens who came in as the top seed in the East.
You have a veteran’s veteran for a goalie in Tim Thomas, who along with Manny Fernandez, won the Jennings Trophy this season for fewest goals allowed by a team this season at 196. They were the only NHL team to allow fewer than 200. The Canadiens have a shaky second-year netminder in Carey Price, who was sensational in the first four games of last year’s series but started to show cracks, which became geysers by Game 6. This year, he has been inconsistent at best.
On paper, this series should be all Boston. But the Bruins need go back only five years when they played Montreal and led three games-to-one. Their offense was stymied in the final three games and they lost twice on home ice in Games 5 and 7 and took a first-round exit.
This year, the talk is all about Montreal trying to repeat what they did in the second period of their match-up on April 9. The Bruins lost their collective composure and took penalties to let the Habs back in in the game, a game won by Boston, 5-4, in overtime.
“I’ll tell you what, you guys have got this whole series kind of figured out, right? They’re going to get under our skin and we’re going to take a lot of penalties,” Julien quipped. “Why don’t we just drop the puck and see what happens. We’ll deal with that.”
And that’s what everyone in the Hub will be looking forward to on Thursday night on Causeway Street.