Opinion: Claude Julien needs to schedule rest time for weary Bruins
|04.12.13 at 1:34 pm ET|
I’m sick of hearing that the Bruins are tired.
“We ran out of gas,” Claude Julien claimed after Thursday night’s loss to Islanders. “The effort and will was there. They were obviously a little fresher than we were.”
That quote came just two days after he said, “The schedule has been as tough as it could ever be on an athlete. We’ve got to be careful of how hard we push those guys, because they are tired.”
I don’t disagree.
The schedule obviously has been brutal. Yes, the Bruins face the same difficulties as every other team in the league, but they currently are in the worst of the gauntlet. Whereas they started the season with more days off than most other teams, they are paying the price for that now.
So I’m happy to concede that exhaustion is playing a role in their recent string of uninspired performances.
Normally, this is the time where I would remind athletes and coaches that if they avoid making an excuse out loud, someone will make it for them. We all know the schedule is tough; let us remind people and it will sound more like an explanation and less like an excuse.
And for Tyler Seguin, who said Thursday night that while he wasn’t making excuses, “we ran out of gas after three games in four nights,” I would repeat that message.
But to Julien, I would offer some additional advice.
If your team is so tired, do something about it!
Look, we all know the Bruins are going to make the playoffs and it’s a virtual certainty that they will fill either the second or fourth seed. So, what would be the harm in resting a few exhausted players for a game or two? If they are so desperate for some fresh legs, why not create them?
Julien may have started that plan Thursday night by allowing Dougie Hamilton to watch a game from the ninth floor. He made it clear that this was not a performance-based benching, but a reaction to Hamilton’s long season (which began with a preseason junior tournament).
But why stop there? If it’s good for the goose, why not the gander?
A quick look at the NHL per-game time on ice leaders show only two Bruins in the top 40 (Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg). Among forwards, there is no Bruin in the top 40. Clearly, Julien has made an effort to roll out four lines and limit the toll on any single player.
But again, why stop there?
Let Milan Lucic and Nathan Horton take a game or two off. I can’t imagine any Bruins fan complaining about it — not with the way they’ve played lately. Let them rest and then demand that they return with a jump in their step, and a few collisions should ensue.
We all understand that they are now in the business of preparing for the playoffs more than winning each individual game. They should commit to that. Rather than allow the schedule to beat them down, they should take appropriate measures to deal with the challenge.
If you are going to complain about exhaustion, do something to combat it.