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Julien skating Bruins hard at Friday practice

10.09.09 at 12:18 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — As expected, Claude Julien is putting his players through the paces in a skate very long on full-out skating and battling for loose pucks. Plenty of bodies crashing against the boards and red-faced players huffing and puffing to keep up with the action.

First was a round of full-paced breakout drills, then 2-on-2 battle drills and now it’s rugged, hard-nosed one-on-one battle drills in front of the net. These exercises are eons more competitive than the laissez-faire defense flashed against the Ducks on Thursday night.

At one point, Patrice Bergeron was on one knee catching his wind while resting up for another round of sprinting up and down the ice and battling for the puck. Players are definitely feeling this one a bit.

Julien said last night that it was up to him to clean up the dirty laundry “in that dressing room” and he’s gone about picking up the strewn-about clothes on the ice at the morning practice. No changes to any of the lines, but it’s expected that Johnny Boychuk and Tuukka Rask may get some ice time Saturday night against the New York Islanders.

Following practice, the B’s coach used buzz words like “lazy” and “commitment” and said he was hoping to get the attention of his players with such a punitive practice. It sounds as if reviews of the game film were more like a slasher film than aesthetically-pleasing hockey, with broken ankles and butchered forechecking assignments strewn all about the ice. Culprit No. 1 was the Corey Perry second-period score when he moved freely into the zone and breezed past Mark Stuart and Matt Hunwick before dumping the puck into a vacated net.

But Julien said there was much more to dislike about Thursday night’s defeat — the worst home loss at the TD Garden for the B’s since an 8-2 savaging at the hands of the Toronto Maple Leafs back on March 2, 2008.

“We need to grab their attention right now. We’re looking for commitment. We’re looking for effort, attitude,” said Julien. “I think all of those things put together is what we need to have, to be the team that we should be.”

Practice ended with the players doing full-out skating sprints the entire length of the ice in a criss cross fashion. First rushing end-to-end in what some hockey coaches affectionately refer to as “Herbies” (after US Olympic coach Herb Brooks) and then rotating to side-to-side sprints tapping each end as they go. That lasted for a good 10 minutes and the players were appropriately gassed afterward.

“It’s a bit of a message, but in the same sense we don’t want to end up doing that all year,” said B’s center Marc Savard. “We just have to stay focused, and that was a bit of it here today. We needed to stay ‘going hard’ all practice just like we should be going hard all game.”

–Julien said that starting Tuukka Rask Saturday night against the Islanders was a “possibility” with Thomas struggling behind a leaky defense, but there weren’t any impending line changes or callups from Providence on the horizon. Thomas is 1-2 with a 4.00 goals against average an .868 save percentage along with several “soft-ish” goals among those allowed, but the 35-year-old veteran was also winless in his first four starts last season.

“There’s always a possibility [of starting Rask],” said Julien. “But those kinds of things are always taken care of on a daily basis. We’re a day-to-day hockey club, and I don’t predict things down the road. But, yeah, for no other reason than down the road we’re going to need him.

“Last year he came up and played well. The year before, even with the lack of experience he had, he still showed us some good things. I’m confident in him. I think he’s grown so much that if he needs to go in and play — I can’t see any reason why the coaching staff or the players themselves wouldn’t have confidence in Tuukka.”

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