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Claude Julien: Tuukka Rask ‘wasn’t good, he was outstanding’

06.01.13 at 11:58 pm ET
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Claude Julien and the Bruins were fired up Saturday night for Game 1. (AP)

Claude Julien watched as his team scored first, then he scolded them for turnovers. Then the Bruins coach sat back and watched his team take Pittsburgh’s best punch and beat the Penguins, 3-0, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at the Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh.

The Bruins got a first period goal from David Krejci, the first of two on the night from the team’s leading scorer in these playoffs. In the second period, Julien said he was worried that the team was giving Pittsburgh too many chances.

“I thought for a while, halfway through the second period, I was saying to our players that we were turning too many pucks over in the neutral zone or just outside or inside the offensive blueline,” Julien said. “Sure enough, they’re a team that really takes advantage of those turnovers.

“We got caught into a run‑and‑gun type of game. I think we all know we’re not a team that does well in those run‑and‑gun games.
In the third period, we settled down, played more of our game. I think that’s why we spent more time in our own end and managed the puck better. I thought there was some average puck management in the second period, too. That’s what I mean, some of the passes they would intercept, we tried to hit our D, they would cut those off. Luckily, whatever little mistakes we made, Tuukka was up to the task.”

Rask stopped all 29 shots on the night and even took a shove from Sidney Crosby at the end of the second period, prompting a center ice scuffle as the teams went to the dressing room. Julien said Rask’s work with goaltending coach Bob Essensa all week paid off, preventing any possible rust from a six-day layoff.

“Bob has been with us all week,” Julien said. “He did some work with us before practice, worked on all the things he wanted to work on.
Those are all things that obviously helped us. [Rask] got some rest. So tonight, as far as I’m concerned, he wasn’t good, he was outstanding.”

Julien downplayed the scuffle at the end of the second period and didn’t go after public enemy No. 1 in Matt Cooke for his hit on Adam McQuaid in the first period that resulted in game misconduct on Cooke.

“I don’t know if it had any impact at all, to be honest with you,” Julien said when asked. “Again, I didn’t get a chance to look at it closely. I was asked that question on the bench. I can’t comment on that stuff. I didn’t see it clearly enough. Was he in that position ahead of time, that Cooke could see him in a vulnerable position? I don’t know. I’ll have to look at it.

“No matter what I say, the league will rule on that stuff and move forward with it. You got to trust, again, they’re going to make the right decision.”

As for the scuffle at the end of the second that also featured a fight between Patrice Bergeron and Evgeni Malkin and ended with a shouting match between captains Sidney Crosby and Zdeno Chara, Julien said that stuff happens.

“Whatever. I didn’t see everything happen except that there was a fight,” Julien said. “I saw Sidney push our goaltender as he’s skating off.
This is playoff hockey. Those things are going to happen. You don’t whine or complain about it, you just deal with it. What we had to deal with tonight was winning a hockey game. That’s all that mattered. Whichever way we took at the end of the night, that’s all that mattered.”

Here’s the rest of Claude Julien’s postgame presser from Saturday night:

Q. Claude, general impressions in terms of where you started with the Andrew Ference move? What were your thoughts?: I’m not going to go too much into it. He’s an experienced defenseman. He’s been through the battles. Thought the way he practiced this week, he could certainly be a guy that could step in, and he did just that.

Q. Were you surprised how much open space Krejci was able to afford himself?: He’s a good player. Why should he be different than Crosby or Malkin, who are good players. That line was really good for us tonight. They made some great plays and scored some big goals for us.

Q. You said this morning you didn’t anticipate getting all the matches you liked, they wouldn’t get all that they liked. Percentage‑wise, did you get most of what you wanted?: I would say yeah, because I think it’s because he didn’t mind those matches either. There were times I had to change on the fly. Whatever matches we wanted, we had to work hard at.
Our guys were smart enough to get pucks in the areas where we could make those. Overall, I don’t think there’s a big difference necessarily in the kind of matchups. We’re two teams that don’t spend 100% of our time worrying about that more than we worry about the flow of the game. I think Dan is the same way.

Q. Was there anything you didn’t get that you would have liked to have gotten more? : There’s penalties, power plays. A lot of faceoffs in our own end. We had to make sure we had the right people out there. There’s a lot of reasons why. Fortunately, I was able to use them more as the game went on. Not disappointed with anything. I think overall our guys reacted well. I thought as a coach I was able to, you know, get the stuff I wanted. But like I said, I think it’s the same thing with him. He probably got most of the matchups he wanted.

Q. I would imagine Chara is somewhere around 30 minutes. Where you wanted him?: He might be. I thought in the first period, with everything that happened a lot of faceoffs in our own end. We like him on the ice in those kinds of situations.
First period, I think he had over 11 minutes of ice. We tried to tone him down. I think he was under 20, 18 or 19 mark, by the second period. He’s a guy that’s capable of taking that ice time. Like I said, he’s a big body, got lots of energy, he’s strong. He’s used to those kind of minutes. He’s always been behind a 25, and in the playoffs, closer to a 30 on occasions.

Q. What were you able to do on the PK tonight that was so effective?: Nothing in particular more than our PK has been pretty well all year. We’re at the top of the league for a good portion of the year. Slipped a little bit at the end of the year. First round I thought we struggled a little bit with our PK. Against New York, it was a little bit better. But tonight there’s no doubt when you play against a team that’s got the best power‑play in the playoffs, you have to be at your best. I thought our guys were at their best.

Q. Can I assume you were pretty satisfied with your faceoffs tonight?: Absolutely. Absolutely. I mean, this is a part of our game that we think is a strong part, also that we take a lot of pride in that. It’s been like that all year. We want to continue it being a strong part of our game.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Matt Cooke, Pittsburgh Penguins, Sidney Crosby
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