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Sounds of the game… Bruins 4, Devils 1 03.22.09 at 6:14 pm ET
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It was quite simply the biggest game of the regular season.

And the urgency that coach Claude Julien has been preaching and begging his players to show was on full display on Sunday time at the best time against the one of the best goalies in NHL history.

On this Sunday afternoon at the Garden, the Bruins made Martin Brodeur look human, while avoiding being tagged victim No. 554.

That’s called answering the bell – or in the Bruins’ case – the deafening foghorn that sounded four times in a win that clinched the Bruins first Northeast Divsion title since 2003-04. For those who don’t remember, that was the last season before the 2004-05 lockout that wiped out an entire season.

But listen to Julien and you get the sense there was much less excitement in clinching the division title than Garden P.A. announcer Jim Martin had in announcing it to the fans.

‘€œIt wasn’€™t even mentioned once,” Julien said. “I didn’€™t talk about it. I didn’€™t hear any players talk about it. Everything tonight was put on the way we needed to play. Nothing else was talked about. I didn’€™t talk about the division title, I didn’€™t talk about the importance of the win. I just talked about our play. To me, it just showed to me how important that is to me, to do the things you have to do to win.’€

“I didn’t even know about it until I heard it being announced to the crowd after the game,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas added afterward.

Of course, in the bigger picture is the Eastern Conference, which the Bruins now lead Jersey by five points (102-97) with nine games remaining for Boston while Jersey has 10.

‘€œI think what happened tonight is something, definitely not everything,” Julien said. “It was certainly something where we took a step in the right direction. It was a big game for both teams. We found a way to win that. There’€™s still nine games left. Jersey has some games in hand and they’€™re playing extremely well.’€

The Bruins found a way to protect a 2-0 lead by making it 3-0, something they couldn’t do on Jan. 29 against these same Devils on the same Garden ice. They lost in overtime, 4-3.

Mark Recchi wasn’t in Boston then. He was on Sunday and he helped by assisting on the first two goals.

Recchi said the Bruins played the right way and didn’t let up.

Marc Savard called it the biggest game of the year.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, NHL,
Sounds of the game… Kings 3, Bruins 2 OT 03.19.09 at 10:29 pm ET
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One could make the case that the Bruins didn’t see Thursday night’s self-destruction coming.

But talk to the players themselves following a 3-2 overtime loss to the Los Angeles Kings at the Garden and they will tell you that if they didn’t see the writing on the wall, they certainly felt the trembling beneath their skates.

Earlier in the season, a two-goal lead heading into the third period was money in the bank. The Bruins are quickly turning into AIG. Entering Thursday night, they were 32-2-2 when leading after two periods. Even more impressively, they were 19-1-2 with a 2-0 lead.

But the Bruins had two golden opportunities to make it 3-0 and couldn’t on two power plays midway through the second.

The Kings scored early in the third and all of sudden things began to change.

Tim Thomas, though, said afterward that while Michael Handzus’ goal on the power play was big at 9:50 of the third period, it was the inability to put that third marker on the board that came back to haunt the Bruins.

“When they scored the first one, it changed even more. But I think the momentum had changed even before that,” Thomas said. “We left them in the game and kind of made believers out of them.”

But Thomas’ next statement about protecting a third period lead is FAR more telling about the state of mind the Bruins have right now and what they need to address come playoff time.

‘€œEarlier this season we just knew we were going to win when were in that situation,” Thomas said. “I think now we still believe we’€™re going to win but it’€™s not like a 100 percent like it was earlier this year. It’s not 100 percent confidence.’€

Then there’s their head coach. Claude Julien hasn’t minced words or treaded lightly all season. He wasn’t about to start after this loss.

‘€œWe’€™re going to have to start outworking the other team and our best players are going to have to start finding their game,’€ Julien said. ‘€œOur power play was totally flat tonight. If anything, our (penalty kill) had better chances tonight.’€

Ouch.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Kings, NHL, Tim Thomas
Sounds of the game… Bruins 2, Islanders 1 03.14.09 at 4:07 pm ET
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Anyone who watched Phil Kessel play the first half of this season knows how integral he was to the success of the Bruins.

His coach took the occasion of his 30th goal on Saturday during Boston’s 2-1 win over the Islanders to remind him of just that.

“He’s what you saw tonight, a game-breaker,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “Phil is the type of player that, when he’s on his game with his speed, his shot, his skill level, he can certainly be a game-breaker type of player.

And everyone in the Will McDonough Press Room at the Garden knew there was a ‘but’ coming.

“Having said that, when he doesn’t compete the way he’s been competing the way he’s been competing lately, he’s a player that doesn’t bring as much to the table,” Julien continued. “This is what you need from guys like Phil, and from young players, to be able to develop into being better players, bringing a compete level, night-in and night-out.”

Talk about laying it on the line and not mincing words. Julien clearly wants his team to be ready for April, May and hopefully beyond. And he realizes he needs his young talented players to be prepared for the intensity that awaits them.

Kessel, who became the first Bruins 30-goal scorer since teammate Patrice Bergeron scored 31 in 2005-06, scored No. 30  and Boston’s first goal in the first period. Then, just 65 seconds later, he fed a beautiful pass to Marc Savard for the second Bruins goal.

‘€œIt’€™s a nice milestone,” Kessel said of reaching 30 goals. “(I have) a lot to attribute to my teammates and the linemates I’€™ve been playing with this year. They find me quite a bit, so I’€™m fortunate to be playing with some good hockey players this year.’€

Another milestone came in the form of Tim Thomas‘ 30th win, matching his career best of 06-07. Julien said it was nice to see Thomas back in form on Saturday.

Other audio nuggets from Saturday.

Julien still wants his team to compete better for 60 minutes.

Julien said the Bruins started well and then held on.

Tim Thomas said killing the Islanders’ 5-on-3 power play in the third was key.

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference said the Bruins regrouped after a very sluggish second.

Read More: Bruins, Islanders, NHL, Phil Kessel
Sounds of the Game… Bruins 5, Senators 3 03.12.09 at 10:27 pm ET
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Claude Julien had a message for his team prior to its showdown with the Ottawa Senators – start playing like you’re playing for something.

Julien is more than aware that his team has sewn up a top three seed by virtue of their cakewalk over the Montreal Canadiens in the Northeast Division of the Eastern Conference. What he’s looking for is something more.

“We’ve got to give ourselves something to motivate us and aim for,” Julien said. “As I told them, ‘Why Not Us?’ Why shouldn’t we be giving ourselves a goal and maybe that’ll help us focus on those games coming up and not allow us to get into a comfort zone and say, ‘Well it doesn’t matter if we play .500 we’re going to be in a playoff position.’”

The 2009 Bruins taking a page out of the 2004 Red Sox‘ bag of tricks.

“We want to try and be the best we can and that’s one way of motivating ourselves,” Julien added.

Specifically, there’s the Presidents’ Trophy, awarded to the team that finishes first overall in the NHL point standings. The Bruins entered Thursday one point behind Detroit and San Jose for first overall in the league.

So when the Bruins jumped out to a 3-0 first period lead, and later 4-1, it certainly appeared like they got the message.

“We want to start having some fun around here again and the only way to do that is to start getting some wins,” Marc Savard said. “We know there’s 13 games left. We talked about it as a group. We have a chance to do something special here. We know we want to win the Stanley Cup and that’s the ultimate goal but the Presidents’ Cup is nice, too. We’ve got to want to play for something right now and we had a good chat about that. The way we started, we realized that and we went out and did something about it.”

But the Bruins had to hold on for dear life as the Senators cut the lead to one, 4-3. But the Black and Gold, thanks to an empty-netter by Phil Kessel, managed to skate away with a 5-3 win and now stand just three points shy of 100 for the season. Our man Joe Haggerty has insight on the re-emergence of Kessel and David Krejci and why they are key to Boston’s playoff hopes this spring.

Zdeno Chara said every night is going to be tough from here on out.

Tim Thomas won the game in net but said the Bruins can play better.

Aaron Ward said Thursday was still not a satisfactory win.

Ward on his first career short-handed goal.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Presidents' Trophy,
Sounds of the game… Coyotes 2, Bruins 1 03.06.09 at 12:03 am ET
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Well, a home ice loss to the 14th-best team in the Western conference was not exactly what Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli and coach Claude Julien had in mind when the Bruins dealt for Mark Recchi and Steve Montador on Wednesday at the NHL trade deadline.

The Bruins came out and laid a massive egg against the overhauled roster of the Phoenix Coyotes and fell 2-1 at TD Banknorth Garden.

There are a number of reasons this loss is troubling. First, it comes on the heels of a 4-2 loss to Philadelphia on Tuesday night. Second it comes just a day after the team made two big deals for the stretch run. Third, the return of Milan Lucic to the lineup was expected to give the Bruins a little extra jump. That never materialized.

And finally, the New Jersey Devils are coming fast and this is another loss that brings the No. 2 seed a bit closer to being able to overtake the No. 1 Bruins, who are stuck on 93 points, just six ahead of Jersey.

It’s looking more and more like when the Bruins host the Devils on March 22 at the Garden, first place in the East could be on the line.

But before looking ahead, the Bruins must look back on what was a painful Thursday night on Causeway. And you could sense the frustration, starting with head coach Claude Julien.

Julien said his team, all of sudden, can’t finish on scoring chances.

Julien said when it comes to playing a full 60 minutes, talk is cheap.

Marc Savard said the Bruins were a little too cute on the ice with the puck.

Milan Lucic said the Bruins have to find a way to play 60 minutes.

Even as a newcomer, Steve Montador knows to expect boos when the team isn’t playing well.

Montador said the team is trying to look ahead and gain momentum.

Aaron Ward summed up the Bruins problems.

Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said his Coyotes put forth a good team effort.

Gretzky said his team had a good road effort in Boston.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Milan Lucic, Phoenix Coyotes, Steve Montador
New Bruins ready to take ice… 03.05.09 at 1:33 pm ET
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One thing that has made Claude Julien so popular among his players is his ability to clearly define roles for his team.

He wasted no time on Thursday at the morning skate prior to the Bruins game with the Phoenix Coyotes in doing so for newcomers Mark Recchi and Steve Montador.

He was clear with them – don’t try to do too much too soon. Just play your game.

“They’ve been around,” Julien said. “We’ve already had our one-on-one meetings. I even tried to not give them too much information because I don’t want them going out there and over-thinking. Just go out there and play. We think you’re a good player and that’s why we got you. If there’s some adjustments to make along the way, we can make those. They got the basic crash course. Now it’s just go out there and play.”

Julien was one of those watching Wednesday’s trade deadline with great enthusiasm.

“Well, hopefully our whole team can give us the energy we need but those two guys are certainly bringing some life to our hockey club,” he said. “By the time 3 o’clock rolled around, we were a better team than we were at 9 o’clock, just with the addition of those guys.”

He could notice a jump in his team’s collective step on Thursday morning. They could use one after the performance they gave against the Flyers on Tuesday night, giving up three in the third as Philly captured a 4-2 decision.

He also could tell that some players were relieved that they weren’t the ones dealt out of town from a first-place contender just to shake up the team.

“There’s no doubt that that the guys this morning were pretty excited this morning, not only for still being here but for the additions,” Julien said. “We’re pretty pleased with what’s happened and looking forward to taking another step in the right direction.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, history, Mark Recchi
Sounds of the game… Sharks 5, Bruins 2 02.10.09 at 11:38 pm ET
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Maybe the Bruins needed that.

Maybe it was a wakeup call.

And maybe, just maybe, Joe Thornton is right.

When they’re on, no one can be the San Jose Sharks, not even the Black and Gold.

Thornton gave us all this little nugget afterward when he said no one can handle the Sharks.

Though for two periods on Tuesday night, they appeared ready to take the bite out of the Sharks, leading San Jose, 2-1.

But then they dropped the puck in the third and the Sharks circled and cycled and tore into the Bruins.

San Jose scored four times in the third period on their way to a 5-2 win, their 37th of the season, just two fewer than Boston and they drew to within four points of Boston’s 85 for top spot in the NHL.

Thornton did score in his return, making his comeback to Boston a pleasant one.

The Bruins could rely on just three lines because of injuries to Michael Ryder and a nasty eye injury late in the first period to Petteri Nokelainen.

Bruins coach Claude Julien said the Bruins simply looked worn out in the third.

Julien said the Sharks are the best team the Bruins have played this season.

Marc Savard said it was simple, you can’t sit back against a team like San Jose.

Aaron Ward said the Bruins hopefullhy have learned their lesson about playing 60 minutes.

Tim Thomas said the Bruins lost their mojo in the third.

Thomas said the Bruins could have won the game.

Milan Lucic said the Bruins lack the killer instinct right now.

Lucic said the Sharks are first in the West for a reason.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Joe Thornton, Marc Savard
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