|Claude Julien: ‘I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey’||05.09.14 at 12:37 am ET|
MONTREAL — It was a lot easier for Claude Julien to admit the obvious after a 1-0 overtime win in Game 4 than the alternative. His team still does not look like the squad that won 54 games and the Presidents’ Trophy with 117 points.
If it weren’t for the efforts of a player just called up from Providence to bolster the third line, the Bruins could easily be looking at being down 3-1 heading into Game 5 Saturday night back at TD Garden.
But Matt Fraser saved the day and Julien was grateful, not only to the player who got 14 games under his belt this season but to his boss Peter Chiarelli, who called Fraser up in time for Game 4. What did Julien expect?
“The winning goal,” Julien quipped. “He’s been playing well lately in Providence and actually has been scoring some goals. He’s been playing some pretty good hockey and he showed that tonight. I liked his game, not because he scored but his whole game. He seemed to be strong on the puck, making some good decisions, wasn’t turning pucks over, seemed to be skating well. It was nice to see [goal] happen. The GM probably deserves the credit because he was the one who called him up. He’s a good player. We knew that. We had him for quite a while there this year. He can certainly shoot the puck and he has a knack to score some goals. In this series, we need that.”
Then Julien seemed to go back to reality, the reality that his top two lines seem stuck in the mud against Montreal’s system, giving them precious little room to maneuver in the offensive zone. David Krejci, Brad Marchand, Jarome Iginla and Patrice Bergeron have been bottled up in this series. Things were so bad that Julien tried to loosen everyone up by completely breaking up the lines in the Thursday morning skate.
“A win was important obviously to get us back in this series,” Julien said. “I don’t think we’ve played our best hockey. That’s not to downplay this win. We’ve played hard but I know I’ve seen our team play better. But you know it seems to be a process right now and we’re working through it. You hope that this win here helps us to get better anyways, and you go from there.
“There’s no doubt these guys are working hard, they care, they want to. Just because it doesn’t always go as smooth as we like it to be, what I like is we’re showing character and we’re battling through it and trying to find ways to win games.
|Carl Soderberg is playing; Claude Julien was just playin’ with Bruins lines||05.08.14 at 12:48 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Carl Soderberg was absent from the Bruins’ morning skate Thursday, but Claude Julien said that the player simply “took his option” and will be available to the team for Game 4 against the Canadiens.
Matt Fraser was on the ice after joining the team in Montreal Wednesday night. It is unknown whether the sharp-shooting 23-year-old will be in the lineup or where he will play.
Julien offered only this: “We’re going to make some game-time decisions as far as our roster’s concerned, guys.”
Now for the fun part. Julien, who is extremely secretive with what he reveals to the media during the postseason, had a bit of a chuckle making his lines for Thursday’s skate, and the result was a group of forward lines that has absolutely no shot of seeing time together when the puck is dropped. The lines were:
Julien was asked after the morning skate if he was serious with his morning skate lines. Julien indicated he wasn’t, which pretty much should have gone without saying.
“Oh, I think it just gives you guys something to write about so you don’t get bored,” Julien said. “Then tonight I can decide whether I want to stick with those or put my lines back to what I want.”
The Boston coach was then asked why he went with silly lines.
“I think you’re overthinking, honestly,” Julien said. “We have fun with things sometimes and that’s all we’re doing right now. We’re OK. We’re just having fun with things. If you guys want to write about that stuff, that’s fine, but we’re OK in there. We’re just focusing on our game.”
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|Claude Julien, Bruins trying to manage media spin machine vs. Michel Therrien, Canadiens||05.06.14 at 12:51 pm ET|
MONTREAL — Claude Julien and the Bruins are no strangers to postseason wars of words.
In what looks a bit like the 2011 Eastern Conference finals, when Julien and Guy Boucher went back and forth with comments in the media, Julien and Habs coach Michel Therrien have had some things to say about one another in the second round.
After the Bruins won Game 2, Julien said that the B’s won the game despite putting up with “a lot of crap.” Therrien fired back Monday morning.
“[Claude]’s not happy with all that ‘crap,’ ‘’ Therrien said. “They try to influence referees. That’s the way they are. That’s not going to change. That’s the way that they like to do their things. … But we all know what they try to do.”
Therrien’s words were similar to Julien’s comment in 2011 about Boucher lobbying for calls with his comments in the media. On Tuesday, Julien declined to take things any further with Therrien.
“You know what? Everybody’s entitled to their comments,” Julien said. “People are trying to make more out of this on-ice rivalry, trying to turn it into an off-ice rivalry. Everybody’s entitled to their comments. Some of it can be gamesmanship; whatever it is doesn’t really matter. Right now I’m focusing on my team and what we need to do. That’s what both teams are trying to do, I think.”
Therrien also asserted that the Bruins started this week’s popular storyline that the Bruins have “solved” Carey Price by shooting pucks high. That wasn’t the case, as both Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton were asked Sunday about scoring goals high on Price with him moving laterally across the net. Hamilton essentially said that goalies look low when you screen them, which was then spun into the Bruins saying that they’ve figured out Montreal’s goaltender.
“I don’t know if we’re really trying, but we’ve definitely noticed that,” Hamilton said Sunday. “I think when we can get our shots through past their defensemen — especially when they’re trying to block it — I think we have a good chance of getting it in.”
That somehow turned into a proclamation that the B’s have uncovered the secret to scoring on Price.
“We hope that people will write the things that were actually said,” Julien said in French. “It’s that Carey Price, I had him for several weeks with Team Canada, he’s one of the best goalies in the National Hockey League. I don’t think we’re here talking about weaknesses or things like that. It’s pretty obvious that thanks to him his team is very good at the moment, he’s been playing some great hockey from the start. Some things said by a young player were taken out of context, and something bigger was made of it. As I said earlier, we’re looking after our own stuff and we’re keeping the focus on what we need to do on the ice, not off the ice.”
The biggest oddity regarding the “shoot high” narrative is that the Bruins have only scored three times this series from shooting the puck high on Price. The players themselves find the storyline something between amusing and silly.
“It’s just the press and the media trying to create arguments and create banter,” Reilly Smith said. “We stay away from that kind of stuff, and if that’s the way the media wants to portray the series and talk between the teams, that’s what they’ll do.”
Pierre McGuire of NBC Sports joined Mut & Merloni on Tuesday morning to discuss the Eastern Conference semifinal series between the Bruins and Canadiens. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
The Bruins evened up the series in dramatic fashion on Saturday, as the team rallied from a two-goal deficit in the third period en route to a 5-3 victory in Game 2 at TD Garden.
“It was like Game 2 of Detroit and Boston, too, exactly what Boston had to do,” McGuire said. “Sometimes it takes a little while to warm up to a series, and it took the Bruins a little while to warm up to the Detroit series and they clearly did that in Game 2 and never lost another game in the series. I thought that Boston really warmed up to this series after losing in double overtime in Game 1. It takes a little while.
“They’re into it, they’re fully engaged now, and they’ll have to be because that will be a raucous crowd in Montreal tonight and Thursday night won’t get any easier.”
The Bruins once again struggled with maintaining their composure in Game 2. The Canadiens made use of six power-play opportunities in the contest, with two goals coming on the man advantage.
“It’s easier to say and harder to do,” said McGuire, adding: “It’s really difficult to talk about it and you keep getting hit over the head all the time with it, and I think there was some frustration because they were getting chances. … It’s all difficult stuff, but I think they’ll find their way. The one thing I know about this team, when they’re home, it’s one thing, because they want to please their fans so badly. … But the other thing, when they go on the road, I find them to be much more disciplined on the road than they are at home.”
It was not just the Bruins skaters getting penalized by the referees in Game 2, as Bruins coach Claude Julien was called for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the final minutes of the second period.
“It started early on in the game and I can tell you, he was really upset with [official] Scott Cherrey on an offside that he thought wasn’t an offside,” McGuire said. “Then it carried over to the second period, he didn’t like some of the calls going against his team, but it was nothing out of this world. It was nothing crazy. Trust me, I hear it all. It wasn’t anything nuts. And then, I don’t know what happened.”
Added McGuire: “I did not hear him say anything derogatory. I thought it was something that happened on the ice. I don’t know how [official] Dave Jackson heard anything from where he was standing from the Bruins bench, because it was definitely loud at that point in the game and when you’re on the ice, you’re down low. Unless you’re really scrutinizing, there’s no possible way you can hear anything.”
|Claude Julien: Bruins beat Canadiens in Game 2 despite ‘a lot of crap that we put up with’||05.03.14 at 4:26 pm ET|
Claude Julien was proud of his team for overcoming a two-goal deficit in the third period to take a 5-3 win over the Canadiens in Game 2 Saturday, and he hinted that his team did it in spite of the officials.
The Canadiens had six power plays and scored on two of them. One of the Bruins’ penalties was a bench minor on Julien.
“We had the tough second period, and at the start of the third [they] got that other power-play goal, but the way that we just battled back from, I felt, a lot of crap that we put up with today was pretty indicative of what our team is all about,” Julien said. “It just shows that if you focus on the things you need to focus on, this is a pretty good team that can accomplish a lot.”
Julien wouldn’t specify what the “crap” was, saying that “anybody that watched the game knows what was going on there,” and adding that it was a “tough game.”
He did have a pretty hilarious explanation for his bench minor, which occurred late in the second period.
“The referee,” Julien said, “I kind of told him that I didn’t agree with his calls.”
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|Though Habs may soon await, Bruins focused on Red Wings||04.21.14 at 9:07 pm ET|
One major difference brought about with the change to the NHL‘s playoff format is the fact that in each series, teams have a 50-50 chance of knowing who they’ll face next.
Usually, it isn’t until the conference finals that teams know that they will play one of two teams should they advance, but with the divisional, non-reseeding format the league changed to for this season, that scenario is provided throughout the playoffs.
The Bruins and Red Wings both know that, should they win, they will face the winner of the series currently being played between the Canadiens and Lightning. Well, that series could be over awfully soon, as the Habs hold a commanding 3-0 series lead over the Bolts.
The Boston-Detroit series, on the other hand, has just begun. Tied 1-1 heading into Tuesday’s Game 3, the series has at least three games to go, and with the way it has looked thus far, could go four or five more. The Montreal series could be over as soon as Tuesday night, in which case the Canadiens would both have a lot of time to wait for their next opponent and face a potential matchup against the Bruins.
“That’s their series. We’re worried about ours right now,” Claude Julien said Monday. “Our players shouldn’t worry about that. As coaches, you worry about your team but you also are allowed to watch and prepare in a certain way by watching the other series as well, so I don’t think it’s a big issue.
“I know that there were times in the past where we were done and we had to watch a couple of different series because we didn’t know, depending on who would win, who we’d play, so there’s no doubt it’s a lot clearer now. We don’t have to look too far to find out who our next opponents could be, but at the same time, it’s about getting out of this one here, and right now it’s a 1-1 tied series that, to me, has the potential to go a long ways.”
|Torey Krug and Bruins embrace high expectations: ‘I wouldn’t call it pressure’||04.18.14 at 2:00 pm ET|
Pressure is what you make it.
As the Stanley Cup playoffs begin, the Bruins are making it nothing more than chance to fulfill their own expectations.
According to the Vegas line provided by Bodog.com, the Bruins are 7-2 favorites to win their second Stanley Cup in four years by the time late June rolls around, and for good reason. They are relatively healthy heading into the playoffs, though nursing injuries to Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly while battling a flu bug.
“Well, we never get comfortable,” Claude Julien said before Friday’s Game 1 with the Red Wings. “We’ve always talked about that. No matter what we’ve accomplished, we always know that the good things happen from hard work, so the minute we stop working hard and focusing on the areas we need to focus on, things can change. So that’s always been our approach.”
But it’s not the flu or injuries to Paille or Kelly that are of primary concern – it’s the parity in the Stanley Cup playoffs that present the biggest obstacle. Julien reminded everyone Friday that there’s nothing to be taken for granted when a team like the Bruins take on a club like the Red Wings, a difference of 24 points in the season standings.
“Not with parity,” Julien said. “I don’t think that exists anymore. I’ve been mentioning that for the last couple of days, about the percentage of upsets in the first round over the last couple of years. So it just goes to prove to you that anything can happen in the playoffs. We’ve seen it many times before and I don’t expect that to change this year also.”
Bruins defenseman Torey Krug says he learned a lot from his first experience in the playoffs last year. That experience, he says, will help as he and the Bruins open the 2014 Stanley Cup playoffs against the Detroit Red Wings at TD Garden.
“Pressure is whatever you put on yourself,” Krug said. “This team has high expectations of itself. I wouldn’t call it pressure. We’re going to respond well to whatever it is. We’re excited to get things going.”
Krug broke onto the scene in the 2014 playoffs as a power play weapon and an offensive force.
“You have to play like that,” Krug contined. “If you’re scared to make mistakes, the puck is going to end up in the back of your own net. You have to make sure you play with confidence. That’s the same message the coaching staff was preaching today. It’s the same thing as last summer. Just eager to get going. It’s an exciting time.”