Claude Julien: Bruins playing best hockey, ‘without a doubt’
|06.04.13 at 1:11 pm ET|
BEDFORD — As the Bruins returned Tuesday morning from Pittsburgh, they were peppered with the obvious question: Can it really be this easy over a high-powered team?
“Anytime you can come back from a road trip like that, and having won both games, it’s encouraging,” coach Claude Julien said of his team’s 2-0 series lead over the Penguins in the Eastern finals. “But our team is really playing good hockey right now, without a doubt the best we’ve had this year, and that has to continue to beat these guys. We were in that same position as Pittsburgh a few years ago and we worked our way back into it.
“I think we understand the situation here. We’re not going to get ahead of ourselves here and understand that these next games are crucial for us just as much as it is for them.”
The Bruins now get the chance to close out the series without having to return to Pittsburgh if they can hold serve on home ice, starting with Wednesday’s Game 3 at TD Garden.
Julien said one of the keys to the Bruins’ success has been the commitment of the entire team to come back and help defensively on the high-powered Penguins’ forwards, such as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jarome Iginla.
“There’s been a great commitment on the part of our team to really play well defensively, and have layers and take away space from those guys and some room to pick up speed,” Julien said. “Guys have really bought into that. It’s helped us a lot and that’s why I’ve said we’ve got to continue doing that.”
Julien was asked if he thought there were any chance his team might take a 2-0 series lead for granted coming home.
“I would think not, not after everything we’ve been though, the ups and downs of playoff hockey,” he said. “We’ve had our share of downs so we have to make sure we stay up.
“I really think after Game 7 against Toronto, it was such a big comeback for us, it always seems to take something to get the team to gel and believe. That was a real big turning point for us. From there on in, I think against the Rangers, we played some really good hockey as well. They were a team that was gritty and was going to give us a lot of hard work to compete against. They did that. There was no quit in that team. And that just helped us get better.”
The biggest message from Julien: The Bruins are fully aware of what the Penguins are capable of and the series is far from over.
“And we know what Pittsburgh represents,” Julien said. “We haven’t lost faith in what we can do but we haven’t lost track of what they can do as well. They’re a potent scoring team. We have to make sure we stay on top of our game. It’s as simple as that.”