Julien: “We have to make adjustments with our players”
|05.07.09 at 1:32 pm ET|
RALEIGH — Expect perhaps some different line combos or perhaps an eye brow-raising scratch when the Bruins hit the ice for Game 4 at the RBC Center on Friday night. Bruins coach Claude Julien gave his team a complete day off to step away from the scene of Wednesday night’s Game 3 crime, but the bench boss also admitted that there will be “adjustments” to Boston’s game headed into Game 3.
Phil Kessel has been held scoreless in each of the last two games — both losses — after riding a five-game point streak during Boston’s five game postseason winning streak, and the David Krejci/Blake Wheeler/Michael Ryder line has been ineffective in the last two games for Boston. Wheeler could be out of the Boston lineup on Friday night after blocking a shot in Game 3, and any scratches up front would obviously give big forward Byron Bitz his second taste of the NHL playoffs after suiting up for Game 3 of the Montreal series.
Andrew Ference left Game 3 in the second period with an undisclosed injury, and it’s likely that Shane Hnidy will be inserted into the lineup for Boston should Ference be unable to recover by Friday night. With the players having a day off, here’s Claude Julien during a Thursday morning press briefing at the Raleigh Renaissance hotel:
Do we have a grind of a series here, or is this a team that’s in a bit of trouble and needs to figure their way out of it? CJ:Always with the good questions, eh Mick? We’re not in trouble. We’re in a hard-fought series and what we have to do probably is get our game going in the right direction. What that means is our commitment to outworking the other team and making better decisions on the ice. I think it’s a combination of both. It’s a mindset. We’ve struggled the last couple of games, but there are ups and downs to a season. You win a game and you’re Stanley Cup contenders. You lose a game and you’re in trouble. That’s what you have to face every day. We just have to keep our focus on what we have to do, believe in ourselves and go out and do it. We’re very capable of doing that.
Do you believe that the players believe what you’ve just told us, and that’s their mindset now? CJ: Yeah. I think that’s what this whole day off is all about. Let’s take a day off, step back, regroup a little here and go back to playing the way we know we can.
Tim Thomas said last night that the Hurricanes were the team that appeared to want it more. Your thoughts on that statement? CJ: Last night that’s what it was.
It seems like a lot of the dump-ins have been going straight to (Cam) Ward. Is there a way of avoiding that? CJ:That’s part of the package that I’m talking about. We have to be committed to making the right decisions and the right plays. We’re throwing pucks and rimming them. We’re not making the good chip-ins and we’re not making the good forecheck that we want to get. I think part of it is that our staff has to continue to work on giving guys direction and make the right adjustments.
Then the players have to do their share by going out and executing that. That’s not going to change. Tomorrow’s game is a big game for both teams and we just have to ready for that.
Any update on Andrew Ference? CJ: Not yet. Not as far as letting you know what his status. I can’t tell you right now because he’s been evaluated quickly and he’ll be evaluated again today. I’ll have more on that tomorrow.
Wheeler? CJ: Nothing so far. There’s nothing to report on our players so far.
When you say all of the things that the team needs to do and they don’t do it for the 60 minutes, how frustrating is that as a coach? CJ: Getting frustrated doesn’t help the matter. In this game you have adversity and how you handle it is very important. We have to block out everything around us and just focus on our job and what we have to do — and leave it at that. There’s going to be all kinds of things said and written. It’s fun when things are going well, but when you get a little bit of adversity — and you don’t like the things you’re hearing as much — you have to block that out and we have no problem doing that.
We have to focus on what we have to do. This is where our energy has to be put in right now into what we have to do tomorrow.
Giving the team the off-day today, was that something that you think quite a bit about or was that a relatively easy decision? CJ: Yeah, they’re all easy decisions. That’s what you’re paid to do is make decisions based on what should be done knowing your team and knowing what’s going on. Whether you’re right or wrong, we’ll find out soon enough. I guess I shouldn’t even say right or wrong because I know I did the right thing today. No matter what happens tomorrow, this was the right thing to do for this team right now.
Is there any concern that your team is only now starting to face some adversity? CJ: I thought we faced quite a bit of adversity in the second half of the season. We struggled for a long time and we were below .500 and then we picked up our game again. I think that part isn’t necessarily true. It’s about us handling that next game properly.
Did you see a lot of the same symptoms last night that you saw when the team had the slide in the second half of the season? CJ:I don’t know if Iwant to associate both of those because it’s obviously a different time of year. You’d be extremely disappointed as a coach if you didn’t feel your team was ready and was taking it easy, but that’s not the case. The guys want to win. They just have to find their game again and be a little better in all areas. It takes one good game to get you back on track and that’s what we’re looking for tomorrow. That game has to be one of those where we play as well as we know that we can.
We talked a lot about the negative and dwelled on that quite a bit last night. What was one or two things that you saw that you liked from that game? CJ: I think it’s more that there were a lot of good things that happened and it’s more about completing those things. We started those well, but we weren’t completing those things well. Whether it was the transition game and we got it started but got rid of it too quick or a bad dump, it’s a matter of going back and putting our whole together and maybe being a little more patient at times and making better decisions in pressure situations too.
All of that stuff will come together tomorrow.
What did you see from Stuart with the increased ice time once Ference goes out? CJ: Stuey has done a good job that way, but to me Stuey has always been Stuey. He’s been one of our more consistent guys and when he struggled a little bit it was because he wasn’t moving the puck quickly enough. But it’s never been about his play being up and down.
You could see Shane Hnidy tomorrow. Is he one of the better players in terms of being able to be off for a couple of weeks and then get plugged in? CJ: He is because he’s got experience. He’s been in this league long enough and I think he handles it well. He’s not afraid to do extra work in order to stay sharp. If he’s called upon tomorrow, I have no doubt he’s going to be a good player for us.
We didn’t see Zdeno Chara (in the dressing room) last night. Was it just a case of him taking a game really hard? CJ: Yeah, it’s a little bit of everything. I don’t think he’s trying to dodge anything. He’s just a little frustrated. He’s a guy that’s pretty proud of his game and he knows that last goal started off with the puck not getting out. It doesn’t take away from his qualities as a leader. I think he’s been more than fair this year at showing up and facing the situation, but sometimes those guys will do those things because the last thing they want to do is say the wrong thing.
When you’re frustrated you can and that’s the choice that you have (as a player). If you see Zdeno tomorrow then I’m sure he’ll be more and willing to talk.
What was his mindset after the game? CJ: He’s fine. He’s a leader. He’s a guy that takes things hard. He’s hard on himself and always has been. He’s also a guy that’s capable of turning the page and saying ‘I’m the Captain here and I have to lead by example and that’s what I’m going to do.’ That’s what Zdeno is going to do tomorrow and I have no doubts about that.
Did you chat with him after the game? CJ: Does it really matter? And I’m saying that in a polite way because there’s conversations and players that don’t need to be talked about. I’m not going to comment on that stuff.
Are the players completely off today? CJ: They’re completely off today.
Any lingering sickness or flu issues with guys after Thomas and Kobasew had the flu recently? CJ: No everything is good. There’s no flu epidemic if that’s what you’re asking.
Is the fact that you had trouble getting the puck out — which contributed to the first and third goals — and the fact that you’re not getting the puck out, is that a huge concern? CJ: I don’t think our breakouts are the biggest problem here. They’re a very aggressive team. More than anything else it’s other issues that we need to address with our team that I’m not going to address with the media. We’ll make our adjustment like every other team. I don’t think I’m going to stand here and give you our game plan.
I don’t think that’s something any coach will do, but we have to make some adjustments with our players and they have to execute them. As I mentioned that’s something that teams do every game. That’s something that I’m sure Carolina is going to do. They’re not going to sit there and accept their win and not do anything. They’re going to continue work on making it hard for us to win a hockey game.
Could the adjustments include switching lines and changing things like that? CJ: What’s the polite thing to say? No comment.
Has Carolina shown you something that you haven’t seen from some team and some point during the year and that you’ve already adjusted to? CJ: Well, the one thing Carolina has shown — or not shown us because we knew it — they’re not the same team that we saw during the regular season. We got them in those games earlier in the season before they hit that stretch when they were turning it on and we watched them enough to know they were going to be a different team when we played them.
So there’s no surprises there. What they’ve done — and where they ended up — it’s like we do during the regular season. We look at where teams are seeded, whether it’s first or eighth or whatever, but the bottom line is that some teams peak at the right time. They may be seeded sixth, seventh or eighth, like Anaheim for example, but if you’re peaking at the right time then you’re as good as a No. 1 seed and that’s what people have to understand. There’s parity in this league and it didn’t intimidate us when we were No. 8 going after Montreal. That’s been pretty good about our team and that hasn’t changed.