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Claude Julien has a message for his team: Stop being ‘cute’ with the puck

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There’s a four-letter word in hockey – especially during the playoffs.


It’s what players hate to be called and it’s what coaches hate to see from their players.

Saturday, Claude Julien [1] saw a bit too much of it from his Bruins in a 2-1 double-overtime loss to the Capitals in Game 2 of their Eastern quarterfinal series.

“They play a patient game,” Julien said. “They sit back, and they get into their 1-4, and if you want to get cute in the neutral zone, then you’€™re not getting pucks in, but it took us two periods to get ourselves going and get some more opportunities, and instead of using our outside speed and everything else, we just kind of made it easy on them. And, you know, at this stage of the year, you would like to see more net-front traffic, and you would like to see that puck going to the net a little bit more with guys heading in that direction, and we don’€™t have a good enough commitment in that area right now to win hockey games.”

Julien has seen the commitment from the Chris Kelly [2] line, with Benoit Pouliot and Brian Rolston [3] again combining for the only Bruins goal – as was the case in Thursday’s 1-0 OT win. Now, Julien wants to see Patrice Bergeron [4]‘s line of Brad Marchand [5] and Tyler Seguin [6] do the same. Same goes for David Krejci [7], Milan Lucic [8] and Rich Peverley [9].

“They’€™re putting pucks at the net, and they’€™re going to the net,” Julien said of the Kelly line. “Some of the other guys or lines are trying to be a little too cute, and it ends up with, at the end of it, it ends up with nothing. Nothing to show for it. So, need to be a little bit more of a gritty team determined to, like I said, go to the dirty areas, win the battles, because as you can see after two games, that’€™s what it’€™s going to be.”

Caps coach Dale Hunter said his team is just trying to play the “time and space game” with the Bruins, taking away open ice for Boston’s highly-skilled two lines. Julien wants to see his team fight a little more for its “time and space”

“You’€™ve got to battle for your space,” Julien said. “It’€™s not there, so you’€™ve got to find it. Doesn’€™t mean you’€™re going to have more of it, but you’€™ll probably be in a better position, and the problem right now is that we’€™re not battling through those to get in the right position. So their goaltender is seeing a lot because their [defensemen] are pushing us to the outside, and we’€™re letting them do that to us.

Julien still has hope, though. And has his goaltender reminded everyone afterward, at least the Bruins aren’t “down 0-2 like last year.”

“We did the same thing last year,” Julien said. “We had some games that we should have been better, and we lost, and at the end of the day, you look at the series, and did we win the series or not? And that’€™s what we’€™re going to do again this year. You know, we weren’€™t good enough tonight, and that’€™s why they won. We’€™ve got to be better next game, hopefully win, and at the end of the series, well, we can decide whether we were a good enough team or not, but I’€™m certainly not going to analyze our team on one game. I’€™ll make sure I analyze them on the whole series, and when it’€™s all said and done, we can probably answer that a little bit better.”