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Claude Julien: Bruins relish being a part of a fabulous final four ‘it’s pretty impressive’

05.30.13 at 5:39 pm ET
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Claude Julien was relaxed and joking after practice on Thursday. (Mike Petraglia/WEEI.com)

WILMINGTON — As the Bruins wrap up preparations for Game 1 of the Eastern finals Saturday night in Pittsburgh, they are taking a very brief moment to relish what it’s like to be part of a little recent history.

The quartet of the Bruins, Penguins, Blackhawks and Kings isn’t just a made-for-TV dream for NBC, they represent the most successful franchises in hockey over the last four years, as measured by Stanley Cup banners.

Each team has lifted the Cup once in the previous four seasons, starting with the Penguins in 2009, the Blackhawks in 2010, the Bruins in 2011 and the newbies, the Kings, who won their first in franchise history last year.

“I think it’s pretty impressive, knowing about parity in the league and how hard it is to get back there,” Claude Julien said. “To know that somebody is going to win it twice in, at the most, four years is pretty impressive, I think. That’s what we have here. It’s an opportunity for all of us here to duplicate what we’ve wanted to duplicate here for a while.”

Tyler Seguin was a mere 19-year-old pup when the Bruins last made a deep run, as he was a rookie in 2011. But that doesn’t mean he can’t appreciate what the Bruins, Penguins, Blackhawks and Kings have all accomplished.

“It’s very cool,” Seguin said. “It’s great to be a part of it. I don’t know if that’s happened too often throughout history but it’s going to make for a great final finish. I think experience has always been huge, especially when it comes to playoffs. We have so much experience in our locker room we can face different types of adversity and I think when it comes to playoffs, teams that have experience are always going to have the edge. There’s always the underdogs or teams that surprise other teams but this year, I think it’s a little different because the last four winners are in the final four.

“I think chemistry can definitely be huge at times, especially when you’re making playoff runs of more than one in the last few years for all four of us. I think chemistry is big in those situations and experience goes a long way.”

Julien also appreciates the job his boss, GM Peter Chiarelli has done in keeping a young core together and in tact, ready to compete for a title, year-in and year-out.

“You know it becomes harder when you win,” Julien said after Thursday’s practice. “We won a couple years ago and he’s managed to keep the core and most of the players around. He’s done a great job. I’ve said it all along, to have an opportunity to coach a team that’s deep because of the players he’s provided us with. Thats’a credit to him and his group. The coach is as good as the people that surround him; that means the assistant coaches, but also means the players, and obviously management.

“That’s always been the case, it’s not something that’s new. It’s more about you have to realize what you have and we have a good group of people here, players, coaching staff, and then management. Everybody seems to be doing a good job at what they have to do and allows us the opportunity right now to be in the top four.”

Here is the remainder of Claude Julien’s press briefing from Thursday:

On how Patrice Bergeron’s role as a leader has evolved since the last time the team was in the Eastern Conference Finals:
I would go even further than that; he came in here as an 18-year-old, probably just looking around, trying to feel his way. He’s not really a real vocal guy or wasn’t a real vocal guy. Just kind of one of those guys that will show his leadership by his actions. But he’s developed into a guy now that feels a lot more comfortable, obviously with the language, with the surroundings, the number of years he’s been here. When he needs to speak, he speaks. When he does, guys listen because he’s not one of those guys that will speak every day, but he speaks at the right times. That’s how he’s evolved as a leader. He’s got his teammates’ attention when he does decide to speak up.

On if it was a reminder when Bergeron got injured earlier this season of how important he is to the team: Yeah, obviously it’s always one of those situations where we all kind of look around because he’s been, arguably, our most consistent player year after year. I said that many times about him; you know exactly what you’re going to get every game from Patrice [Bergeron]. I’m talking about work-ethic and commitment, and whether his game is a great game or just a good game, his effort and everything else is always there at 100 percent. He doesn’t cheat you as a club and he doesn’t cheat his teammates. He doesn’t cheat anybody. He doesn’t cheat himself. He’s very demanding and that’s what good players are made of. He’s one of those that you certainly want to hold on to.

On if this matchup is unusual because both of the teams have such good third and fourth lines: Yeah, I think it’s about a lot of depth. We said that. When you look at how they finished, they’ve got a guy by the name of [Brendan] Morrow on their fourth line, [Jussi] Jokinen. There’s definitely some depth there. We feel we’ve got the same thing. It’s going to be a lot of head-to-head here and see who’s going to outplay the other team’s line and so on, so forth. I think that’s what you’re looking at, a really good matchup here, which to me should be a really entertaining series.

On how the Penguins are different form the New York Rangers: The one thing I would say about Pittsburgh is the skill level, it’s so deep. We know that the Rangers didn’t score that easily. We shutdown a few players and it took a lot of their scoring away. With Pittsburgh, you’ve got to shutdown more than a few players – I’m going to say even more than three and four. They come in bunches. I think that’s the respect that you have to have for that team, knowing that every time you’re on the ice, don’t think it’s going to be an easy shift. If you don’t pay attention to your game defensively, it’s going to end up costing you, but if you do, you may end up in some good offensive opportunities. I’ve said all along, we thrive, our offense thrives on how good a defense we play. When we turn pucks over, that’s when we become dangerous.

On how much the team’s puck control has improved as the playoffs have gone along: Well, better, obviously. But in Game Four, I thought that was one of the reasons we lost that game, puck management. We didn’t play as well. There’s some games where there’s going to be a little bit, but overall I think we’ve been a lot more careful and smart with our decision-making. We’re making less mistakes and I think that’s what you’ve got to do here moving forward. Every little mistake can become a big issue down the road.

On if puck possession can be an important part of the series: Sure it is. But puck possession doesn’t mean you hold onto the puck, there’s times when you’re going to have to put it in areas where you can get it back. If you consider that puck possession, I’ll agree with you, but if you just mean holding onto the puck and not letting it go, that’s not our game. They don’t play that game either on a lot of occasions, their in the neutral zone, all they’ll do is find an open guy and all he does is dump it in and they forecheck us. Their game, in that regard is a lot like ours. We base it on a lot of forecheck. But if you give them room in the neutral zone, they’ve got players that can make things happen. We’re going to have to be good in all areas.

On the effectiveness of the team’s breakout: Well, I think a lot of it is about practice. We work on that every game day, you see us just moving the puck around and looking at our options and in practice we do the same thing with, obviously, some guys forechecking and having to pass through those guys. It’s a part of our game that we’ve always felt is important. Breaking out of your own end, obviously makes you spend less time in your zone, so it gives you the opportunity to get a better attack. There’s a lot of things that come out of having some good breakouts.

On how if he reminds Tyler Seguin of the success he had as a rookie in the Eastern Conference Finals: I haven’t really got into that deep of an example. more than I’ve talked to him, I see him turning the corner, doing some good things. I’ve encouraged him to continue doing that. All players remember all of the good things they’ve done, so I’m sure he remembers that situations a few years ago where he came out and had, I think it was four points in one period. But he was really good. Right now, for him, it’s just to continue doing what he’s been doing lately – him and his line are hopefully going to be breaking out here very soon.

On what changes when a team has to start a series on the road: We have to win games on the road, and we’ve done that in both series so far. We know we can win games on the road. I guess the advantage you want to take from that is you hope to come out of there with at least a win, right? You come out with at least a win you’ve got home-ice advantage. It’s always been a goal of every team, I’m not telling you a big secret or something that will reveal something of our plan to go down there, but that’s basically what it is. You start on the road and you hope to come out of there with at least a win.

On why David Krejci was absent from practice: Just maintenance. Minimal maintenance.

On what makes Tuukka Rask unique as a player and a person: Maybe unique in a way that he’s normal for a goaltender. He’s one of those guys that goes along with the rest of the team. A lot of goaltenders get into their bubble, you can’t talk to them before a game, or you can’t do this or that. He goes along with the flow and just focuses on his game. I know it sounds like I’m being sarcastic or funny here, but he is; he’s as normal as I’ve seen in a goaltender.

On if he’s ever seen anything that has thrown Rask off: I saw him throw a crate with pucks in it from Providence. I saw him take, I guess, a little bit of a dive in front of our bench after a game, when he was mad. But that’s temper more than it is being strange. He does have a temper, there’s no doubt about it. Temper, being hard on himself. Other players and stuff aren’t going to get in his head. But he’s very hard on himself, very demanding.

On his personality when it comes to dealing with his players, if he is a ‘karaoke bar-type of guy: Karaoke is definitely not my style, not because I don’t like to go there, but I can’t sing. That’s admitting your weaknesses. No, I mean, I go about my own business. What you see in me here in Boston is what you see in me for the most part. I know for a fact I’m not a self-promoter, I don’t need that in my life, I love my job. I like going out there and doing my job and doing what needs to be done. For me, winning – and I said that when we won – I was so happy for the guys around. It really, that’s just the way I am. I cant’ change myself. I accept myself the way I am and I’m comfortable with it.

I guess the biggest thing is, I spent most of my career in the minors and the one thing you want to do is treat your players with respect. I’m not saying we weren’t in the minors, but those bus rides and things, you build some appreciation for the game and for everything else. At one point, it’s treating them with respect, but I always said, that fine line that exists between respect and authority. I always keep that in my mind. They know who’s in charge, but they know that there’s some respect there and they can come knock on my door any time they want. There’s a time when you can joke around with them and then on game days and before games, they’ll see me just like they are, my head is into the game and it’s all about focus. So there’s some intensity in myself when it gets close to games. Guys have learned to know me, just as I’ve learned to know them.

On how he likes the way the players police themselves in the dressing room: Yeah, there’s some great leadership in that dressing room. We’ve said it all along. You’re right, they police themselves extremely well. Every coach will tell you that you can give your team a message, but at the end of the day, it’s how they take it and how it’s shared and delivered to one another. You can walk out of the room and some players might say, ‘He’s full of you know what’, or they might say, ‘Listen, he’s making sense. Let’s make sure we follow that.’ So that’s where leadership comes in huge. We’ve had some great leaders here in the past and right now in the present.

On all four coaches left having Stanley Cup championships and how that experience comes in handy: “I’d have to say there’s something to be said about that. You can even go back, the last eight [teams remaining] had Stanley Cup rings, whether they were assistant coaches, Todd McLellan. There was those kinds of situations as well, Torts [John Tortorella] has won one. The last eight had Stanley Cup experience. To me, it does go a long ways. When you’ve been there, you certainly know how to handle those situations a lot better.”

On if he feels for John Tortorella: Sure I do. I said it all along, I said it before the series started, I like Torts [John Tortorella]. Torts has his personality and when you respect a person for who he is – and I know he has a lot of qualities. His teams made the playoffs four out of the last five years. He made it to the Conference Finals last year. He’s won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay. You know what? How could you not respect a guy like that. He’ll be back in the league. But do I feel for him? Sure I do, because nobody likes to lose his job, especially in that situations where you’re into the second round and you made the playoffs four out of the last five years. For some reason, it doesn’t work out. But I have all the faith in the world that he’ll be back because good coaches are hard to find.

On if he is going to start winding down practices: That’s what we did today, actually. That’s why we just did a couple drills and we just wanted to work on our power play and our penalty kill. Basically, the bulk of the practice was 20 minutes. Power play stuff and the other stuff was more to warm the guys up before we did that drill. So that was dialing down, and tomorrow let’s have a good quick paced practice and then head to Pittsburgh.

On if Andrew Ference is medically cleared.: I haven’t been told yet, no. I’d say no.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Peter Chiarelli, Pittsburgh Penguins Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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