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More ‘mature’ Bruins ready to handle time off before taking on Pens

05.28.13 at 6:15 pm ET

WILMINGTON — The last time the Bruins had this much time off, they fared quite well.

Two years ago, the Bruins had eight days in between sweeping the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals and opening their series against Tampa Bay. They, of course, edged the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-3, on their way to the Stanley Cup finals.

They will have had at least six days off when they open the series against the Penguins this weekend at the Consol Energy Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

Time off hasn’t always worked for Claude Julien and his Bruins. Remember 2009? The Bruins avenged a heart-breaking seven-game loss to the Canadiens in 2008 with a first-round sweep. They had 11 days off before opening a second-round series against Carolina. The Hurricanes jumped out to a 3-1 series lead and eventually held on to win Game 7 in double-overtime at the Garden.

What has Julien learned over time about time off?

“I think our team has matured a lot more in regards to that,” Julien said Tuesday. “We had a long break, too, when we swept Philly [Philadelphia Flyers] in four straight a few years ago, and we handled it well. Based on today’€™s practice, I thought we practiced really well, lots of energy, worked hard. I think the focus is still there. I think those years that you’€™re talking about, I think we had almost 11 days off, it was closer to two weeks.

“That was a lot and somehow we felt like we slipped out of it and by the time we got back into it, we were in deep trouble because I think we were down 3-1 against Carolina. That was something that, hopefully, we learned from. Right now, I don’€™t sense that, to be honest with you. I think our guys, we’€™re pretty focused right now. Like I said, I liked our intensity and our focus and our jump in practice today.”

Julien admitted to being older and wiser as an NHL playoff coach and said Tuesday he is benefitting from that at a time like this.

“It’€™s like anything else, you get experience, you go through different things,” Julien added. “I’€™ve gone through a sweep, gone through being swept four straight after up three, different things. We talked about a few years ago, 11 days off. Those experience go a long ways as you move forward, because you’€™ve been through all these things. It certainly gives you a better idea of how to handle that, but let’€™s call it experience, not so much learning. Chalk it down as experience.”

Here is the remainder of Tuesday’s media briefing with Julien and reporters:

On if Wade Redden is cleared to play: “I think to answer that, in a pinch if we needed him, I’€™m sure we could use him. That kind of answers your question.”

On how the team has been able to be successful at scoring with the goalie pulled and if there is any kind of planning that goes into it.: “Yeah, we practice those kind of things. We talk about it and have guys in certain positions. It doesn’€™t mean it always works, but it was successful for us against Toronto. It’€™s something that every team practices. We’€™ve had some decent success with that in the past. As long as you’€™ve got he right players doing the right things in the right places, a lot of times it can be successful. We move guys around. I think the last time you saw Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] at the point there with a wrist shot; Zee [Zdeno Chara] happened to be in front for the screen. Guys move around, a little bit like a power play. Some guy goes around and you fill in the gap and everybody kind of knows what needs to be done in that position.”

On if it is played differently because a goal could be scored if the other team clears the puck: “I think the biggest thing is the minute you lose the puck, somebody’€™s got to get on it quick; you don’€™t want to give them time with it because that’€™s what’€™s going to happen, they’€™ll end up scoring a goal. It’€™s about making sure, with six on five, you’€™ve got to make sure you’€™re jumping on the puck all over the ice there.”

On if past history with Matt Cooke factors into the series at all: “Well, it depends what you mean by that. Are you talking about the [Marc] Savard thing? Or are you talking about the way Matt Cooke plays. There’€™s different ways of answering that. At one point, you’€™ve got to move on from certain things. Just like the next question will be like [Jarome] Iginla. Stuff like that. We all know about that. And I said yesterday, the thing we have to focus on is finding a way to win the series. If you just want revenge on this guy or that guy. Is it really the right focus to have? The best way to get that satisfaction is by winning a series. So I think that’€™s where your focus has to be.”

On how Matt Bartkowski feels fortunate that he wasn’€™t a part of the Jarome Iginla trade: “So are we. I’€™m going to answer, so are we. I think Peter [Chiarelli] answered that, and I can answer, not because Peter said that, I’€™m going to tell you the same thing. We knew if that trade went through we were losing a good player. We saw him get better. You don’€™t get that type of a player ‘€“ and I’€™m talking about in [Jarome] Iginla ‘€“ without having to give something that’€™s pretty good. Now that it hasn’€™t happened, we’€™re really glad to have kept him and to have him here. He’€™s been a great asset to us.”

On if he has to say anything to Matt Bartkowski or Torey Krug about having to face such a powerful offensive team like Pittsburgh: “I’€™ll tell you what: We’€™re no there yet. I’€™m not trying to dodge your question, but we’€™re not there yet. By the looks of it, the other series won’€™t be down until Wednesday night, so when is our series going to start? A lot of speculation. We’€™re not sure, we really aren’€™t. So I don’€™t think now’€™s the time to start talking these guys about this and that. I think we need to get closer and we’€™ll judge what kind of D [defensemen] pairings we want, whether they’€™re going to play against certain guys, so on, so forth. We’€™ve got a lot of things to do before we get to answer that question.”

On what Jaromir Jagr has meant to the team this postseason, despite him not scoring: “Everything else. Everything else, I think it’€™s unfortunate that his numbers don’€™t reflect his play, but he’€™s had some ‘€“ I can remember twice, he’€™s got the open net, right next to it, and gets robbed twice. It’€™s got to be a little frustrating for a guy like him. He’€™s there, he’€™s in the right position, he’€™s made a lot of good things happen with that line. [Patrice] Bergeron started producing when he got on it, again for all the reasons I’€™ve been saying the last couple of weeks. He’€™s been good, his attitude’€™s been great. As you can see, he works hard, he does extra. He’€™s in it for the right reasons. His experience and what he means in our dressing room, what he’€™s done in his career and how the other players look at him, he’€™s been nothing but a great asset.”

On if playing Pittsburgh will get Jaromir Jagr going: “Well, I think New York is a team he’€™s played for, as well. You could use that. But at the same time, like I said, I think he’€™s played well. So spark him; it depends what you mean by spark. If it means getting some points on the board, is one thing, but I’€™m not one to complain about his play because we knew what we were getting out of a 41-year-old Hall of Famer. And that was that he was going to be solid, not as fast as he was, but certainly brought some good things to the team. We’€™re a team that likes to cycle, and we like to hang onto the puck in the offensive zone. He does exactly that, so he’€™s given us what we want.”

On Tuukka Rask welcoming the challenge of this series and if a goaltender can do too much in a series like this: “I don’€™t know. I think he answered it right, because I’€™m one of those guys where you’€™ve got to relish the challenges. You can’€™t fear them, like, ‘€˜Bring it on.’€™ That’€™s what he’€™s telling you right now, ‘€˜Bring it on. I’€™m ready for it.’€™ That’€™s what our whole team’€™s demeanor is going to be, ‘€˜Hey, we know it’€™s going to be a big challenge, bring it on.’€™ We’€™re ready for it and we’€™ll give it everything we have. Hopefully that will be enough to win the series.”

On if he usually has a sense of what a series will be like before it starts and what he expects in this series: “To have expectations is one thing. We talked about, it’€™s going to be a physical series against Toronto, and it was; not dirty, but it was physical. Same thing with the Rangers. There was still some big hits being thrown out there, there always are. To dictate the way it’€™s going to go and to stand here days before it starts, it’€™s pretty hard to answer that. I think there’€™s two teams here that know what’€™s at stake. They’€™re going to bring their best at us and we’€™re hopefully going to do the same thing to them. We know how we play, we know how they play. It’€™s just going to be a matter of seeing how it pans out.”

On the Penguins defensive game: “They haven’€™t given much in these playoffs so far. The goals that they gave up was probably early in the Islanders series. Since then, [Tomas] Vokoun has gone in there, he’€™s done a good job of shutting the door. They’€™ve managed to score some goals. That, to me, they’€™re just stats. That has nothing to do with us against them. Just a matter of us being ready to play the game that we think will give us success against them. But defensively, I don’€™t think they’€™re a bad team, but they certainly rely on their offense to get things going, and when you look at some of their D’€™s back there, it’€™s pretty obvious ‘€“ [Kris] Letang and [Paul] Martin ‘€“ they carry the puck and make some offense that.”

On what his impressions were when he was coaching Montreal of an 18-year-old Patrice Bergeron: “Boy, you’€™re picking my brain, because we’€™re talking about close to 10 years ago, nine years, I guess. I always liked Bergy [Patrice Bergeron], and I know for a fact that when I was coaching in Montreal, he was from Quebec City ‘€“ I was with the Nordiques back then. There’€™s no love lost between City Quebec and Montreal, so he grew up, obviously a Nordiques fan, not liking Montreal. I know that he wasn’€™t a big fan of ours when we were there. As an 18-year-old, I was extremely impressed with his maturity level as a person, but also as a player on the ice. He really impressed me. To me, at the time, this kid came out of nowhere; he just played one year of junior before he got drafted and made that jump. It was pretty impressive. And having the chance to coach him over the years, you can understand why he was what he was; he’€™s mature beyond his years.”

On if Bergeron’€™s hockey smarts have developed over the years or if he always had them: “No, I think his hockey smart’€™s always been there. I think the experience has helped him develop into a better player. You become, I guess, a more savvy player, a smarter one, if you want to put it that way, not because you didn’€™t have it before, but because you’€™ve been through some experiences and you know better. He’€™s a very quick learner and you don’€™t have to correct him twice when he makes a mistake.”

On how he thought Torey Krug would fair against the Rangers bigger bodies before that series started: Well, that was the only thing we were going to keep an eye on, to be honest with you. We knew that playing against the third and fourth line ‘€“ the third one with the [Taylor] Pyatts, and the [Brian] Boyles, and those kinds of guys, and [Derek] Dorsett, is extremely physical ‘€“ was going to be something we were going to keep an eye on because the reason he did go down to Providence was to learn that part of the game. I think he handled it really, really well. We used to talk about Dennis Wideman when he was here. He was never a physical player, but what he learned was, ‘€˜How do I get the puck from the opposing player in the corner without having to go out of my element,’€™ meaning he wasn’€™t a physical player. You kind of learn that along the way. I think Torey’€™s done the same thing here. He’€™s a smarter player. He’€™s pretty strong, he’€™s stalky, as you know. He’€™s kind of built like you, actually, Fluto [Shinzawa]. Is that a compliment? It’€™s not? [laughs] He’€™s a pretty strong individual and he battles well, but he also battles smart. I thought he handled those guys really well. After that, it was about him doing the things we knew he could do: carry the puck and make plays. Right from the get-go when he got here, one of the reasons we called him up is losing [Dennis] Seidenberg, and having lost [Andrew] Ference, it was, ‘€˜Who are we going to use on the power play?’€™ Without a doubt, he was the guy that was coming up and we had him pegged for that because we knew he could certainly help us in that area, maybe not as much as he did, but we knew he’€™d be a help.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Pittsburgh Penguins, Stanley Cup Playoffs
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