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Claude Julien: Bruins ‘built’ for defensive success in playoffs 06.05.13 at 1:24 pm ET
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Defense wins championships. It’s a cliche nearly as old as the Stanley Cup. But it’s true. Keep your opponent from scoring and your chances of winning in the playoffs increases dramatically. And, according to Claude Julien, it’s been the secret to success for the Bruins in the first two games against the Penguins as the Boston forwards have shown a commitment to coming back and playing defense while the Penguins, not so much.

“It’€™s been good for us,” Julien said Wednesday morning before Game 3. “I think, when you look at our team, it’€™s built that way. We take pride in that part of our game, and that part of our game’€™s also given us the opportunity to be better offensively; turn that puck over quick and then everybody comes back, then we go back up the ice as a unit. That’€™s been a big part of our game and when it’€™s good, it provides us with some good offense.”

Julien was told that some in the Bruins dressing room Wednesday – like Daniel Paille – said that’s it’s not as simple as it looks to play a defensive system like the Bruins employ. Julien begged to differ.

“It’€™s not complicated, so I’€™m going to have to have a talk with Dan,” Julien said half-jokingly. “It really isn’€™t. What we try and do is eliminate the gray areas, make it black and white. It really is easy. He probably said complicated because he doesn’€™t want to tell you what it is. But it isn’€™t. This game shouldn’€™t be a complicated one.

“Guys have skills, you try to put some structure together, but the one thing you don’€™t take away is their ability to use their imagination and their skill and their hockey sense to make plays. Defensively, is where you’€™re extremely structured, and you want to make sure that you have layers and guys come back to where they should be positionally. When it comes to offense, a couple of rules, but the rest is about letting them do their job and letting them use their creativity.”

Julien again reminded everyone that his team is taking a level-headed approach in the hours before Game 3, knowing the Penguins figure to be hungry after losing Games 1 and 2 on home ice.

“It doesn’€™t matter what situation it is, I think our guys our mature enough to understand that whatever we went through, whatever the situation is right now, we have to be a good team in order to win at this stage of the season,” Julien said. “We can’€™t afford to let our guard down, whether it’€™s the respect for a team you’€™re playing, and the ability of that team to take advantage of you if you’€™re not ready, or whether it’€™s just from within our group to want to be a good team every night. That’€™s what’€™s important right now, thats we stay focused on the present and don’€™t live in the past, don’€™t look in the future. I’€™ve said that before, we’€™ve been good when we’€™ve kept our eye on what’€™s going on right now. That’€™s what we’€™ve got to do.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Daniel Paille, Pittsburgh Penguins
Claude Julien: Bruins playing best hockey, ‘without a doubt’ 06.04.13 at 1:11 pm ET
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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.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Pittsburgh Penguins, Stanley Cup Playoffs
Claude Julien on Game 2 blowout: ‘The confidence certainly builds quickly’ 06.03.13 at 11:42 pm ET
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It took the Bruins just 28 seconds to show their head coach they were intent on showing him that they heard his message about picking up their play from Game 1.

“Well, that was what we had talked about before the game,” Claude Julien said. “We knew they were going to be a better team, and we had to be better than we were the last game in here. So, we didn’t have a better start anyways. And we got some good bounces go our way and because of that we were able to establish a lead and then we just kind of took it from there. But sometimes those forecheck bounces go your way, and they did tonight.”

And it certainly did early on when Brad Marchand scored on a Sidney Crosby turnover. Marchand scored twice in the first period, with his second goal coming just 25 seconds after Pittsburgh’s only goal and suffocated any Penguins momentum with just over eight seconds left in the opening period.

“Well, you know, the confidence certainly builds pretty quickly,” Julien said. “When you start off with an early lead in the visiting building, you’re certainly happy with that start.”

Jaromir Jagr had been quiet in the series until assisting on Marchand’s second goal. He finished with two assists.

“So I thought our guys did a good job of, again, playing a solid game, solid two’€‘way game, and some great plays,” Julien said. “I mean, Marchand, two goals; Jags, the passes he made and even so that hit in front of our bench, that turned the puck over and allowed Marchand to score a goal. He’s come in to play for us and he’s played well.”

Tuukka Rask was once again sensational in goal, stopping 26 of 27 shots. He has faced 56 shots in this series, allowing just one goal.

“Like I said, he’s been in zone for a while,” Julien said, repeating his sentiments of Saturday night. “He’s obviously confident right now. Puck seems big to him. And you’ve got to ride that goaltender when he’s like that.”

Julien isn’t worried about overconfidence from his team, which will not practice on Tuesday.

“It’s pretty simple; we were in that situation before, and we were able to come back in the series and win it,” Julien said. “So I don’t think’€‘’€‘ we’ve been through enough positive/negatives, not to get ahead of ourselves and we know this is a good team, and I’m not saying we know it. Penguins are a good team, they’re deep, and we’re going to have to continue to play extremely well if we plan on winning the series.”

Here’s the remainder of Julien’s postgame presser from Monday.

Q. I certainly don’t expect you to second’€‘guess the decision of another coach, but were you surprised to see Vokoun check out of the game right there? “You’re right. I’m not second’€‘guessing. It’s a tough enough job that you don’t second’€‘guess. And I’ve got too much respect for Dan to even go there.”

Q. The forecheck, what were you able to do there in the defense zone, causing them trouble in that regard?: That’s our forecheck. Our forecheck has been there all year. And when guys are doing it well, they’re putting pucks in the right areas and we’ve got speed coming through the neutral zone, we were able to establish that. But I think it’s a big part of our game, and it’s gotta be there night in, night out.

Q. Might seem a silly question the position you’re in, but anything you’re concerned about in terms of being up 2′€‘0, going home, seems like a really good situation for you, any danger of being comfortable with it, I guess?: You’re not concerned with being comfortable. If anything building up 2′€‘0 you’ve got to be happy. But the concerns are going to be in our game and after every game, we critique it with the players. And it’s not so much about what we’re doing well, we’ve gotta compete to do that, but there’s areas you want to improve after every game, and we’re a team that’s responded well to that.

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Pittsburgh Penguins, Stanley Cup Playoffs
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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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.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Peter Chiarelli, Pittsburgh Penguins
Bruins Wednesday notes: D mix-and-match, Claude Julien gets shots in, tells players to soak in rays 05.29.13 at 3:09 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — It was another day of perfect attendance on Wednesday as the Bruins held their second day of practice in preparation for Game 1 of their Eastern Conference finals series in Pittsburgh Saturday night.

The news of the day was the minor juggling of the defensive pairings, as Dennis Seidenberg was moved to a pairing with Matt Bartkowski while Zdeno Chara was paired with Johnny Boychuk. Adam McQuaid remained paired with Torey Krug, Andrew Ference was with Aaron Johnson and Wade Redden remained with Dougie Hamilton.

The offensive lines were the same. Claude Julien downplayed the significance, saying he like what he saw in his team on Wednesday.

“It’€™s good,” Julien said. “You saw during the season, we mix and match. You guys kept asking a lot of questions about that and I said, ‘€˜You know what? It’€™s important that we do that because at some point you’€™re all going to have to play with each other.’€™ Guys that can play right that are left shots and vice versa, or even playing with different players, knowing how to do that. During the game we mix and match pairs sometimes. It’€™s not necessarily set pairs that you see on the ice all the time. That’€™s not going to change.”

Julien also said Wednesday that he has really liked what he’s seen this week so far from his team in terms of focus and execution in practice.

“It’€™s basically what you’€™re seeing right now, the last couple of days we’€™ve had some good practices,” he told reporters in his post-practice media briefing. “It’€™s been good tempo, good jump, good focus. It’€™s about being able to handle yourselves at this time of year in these types of situations. What I mean by that, when you get to the rink it’€™s all about business. Leave the rink, relax, enjoy the nice weather that’€™s there for you. You know the sun gives you energy, and nothing wrong with being out.

“Really kind of relaxing and making sure you don’€™t waste your energy out there when you should be saving it for the game and the time on the ice. It’€™s about focusing on those little things. Our guys have done a good job of taking care of themselves, eating properly, getting their rest. Right now I have no issues with where our team is based on what I see in practice.”

Other Wednesday tidbits: Doug Houda spent time with the defensemen working on skating drills at center ice, spending particular attention on Andrew Ference, who is coming back from a left foot injury. It was the second straight day of practice and sixth day on the ice since he was cleared to resume skating. … Julien took a hands-on approach in drills with his forwards on one-timers, standing in a corner and feeding a group that included Rich Peverley, Shawn Thornton, Brad Marchand, Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly. He then worked with the likes of Daniel Paille and Thornton on working on re-directs in front of the net. … Both practices this week have lasted approximately one hour. … The Bruins will be at it again at Ristuccia on Thursday before leaving on Friday for Saturday’s Game 1.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Pittsburgh Penguins, Stanley Cup Playoffs
More ‘mature’ Bruins ready to handle time off before taking on Pens 05.28.13 at 6:15 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — The last time the Bruins had this much time off, they fared quite well.

Two years ago, the Bruins had eight days in between sweeping the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals and opening their series against Tampa Bay. They, of course, edged the Tampa Bay Lightning, 4-3, on their way to the Stanley Cup finals.

They will have had at least six days off when they open the series against the Penguins this weekend at the Consol Energy Center in downtown Pittsburgh.

Time off hasn’t always worked for Claude Julien and his Bruins. Remember 2009? The Bruins avenged a heart-breaking seven-game loss to the Canadiens in 2008 with a first-round sweep. They had 11 days off before opening a second-round series against Carolina. The Hurricanes jumped out to a 3-1 series lead and eventually held on to win Game 7 in double-overtime at the Garden.

What has Julien learned over time about time off?

“I think our team has matured a lot more in regards to that,” Julien said Tuesday. “We had a long break, too, when we swept Philly [Philadelphia Flyers] in four straight a few years ago, and we handled it well. Based on today’€™s practice, I thought we practiced really well, lots of energy, worked hard. I think the focus is still there. I think those years that you’€™re talking about, I think we had almost 11 days off, it was closer to two weeks.

“That was a lot and somehow we felt like we slipped out of it and by the time we got back into it, we were in deep trouble because I think we were down 3-1 against Carolina. That was something that, hopefully, we learned from. Right now, I don’€™t sense that, to be honest with you. I think our guys, we’€™re pretty focused right now. Like I said, I liked our intensity and our focus and our jump in practice today.”

Julien admitted to being older and wiser as an NHL playoff coach and said Tuesday he is benefitting from that at a time like this.

“It’€™s like anything else, you get experience, you go through different things,” Julien added. “I’€™ve gone through a sweep, gone through being swept four straight after up three, different things. We talked about a few years ago, 11 days off. Those experience go a long ways as you move forward, because you’€™ve been through all these things. It certainly gives you a better idea of how to handle that, but let’€™s call it experience, not so much learning. Chalk it down as experience.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Pittsburgh Penguins, Stanley Cup Playoffs
Claude Julien on Andrew Ference decision: ‘We’re not there yet’ at 5:50 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Andrew Ference skated for a fifth day on Tuesday at Ristuccia Arena, but for the first time with this teammates as he looks to come back from a left foot injury.

Ference was spotted walking with a walking boot on his left foot last Saturday during Game 5 of the series against the Rangers. But according to Ference, he had already been testing the health of the foot on the ice before then.

Ference injured the foot in Game 5 of the opening round against the Maple Leafs on May 10. He has not played in a game since.

“There’s no schedule,” Ference said after Tuesday’s skate, in which he was paired with defenseman Aaron Johnson. “It’s just a matter of go when you can go. I don’t think everything was ever put on a calendar. I think it was day-to-day the whole time, wasn’t it? That’s the way I’ve always viewed it.

“The last couple of days I had great skates. Today was the fifth day on the ice so it’s been really good. Obviously, it’s different when you get other guys on the ice and can actually practice. But to have four days completely on your own to do ‘Hockey School’, it’s nice, it really is. It’s kind of actually rare to get that kind of ice time to do exactly what you need. It’s beneficial.”

Ference said he’s been in a good position since he hasn’t felt rushed to return to a situation where he might not be 100 percent.

“You have help from other people when you’re dealing with something but at the end of the day, nobody knows who you feel except you. You’re not going to put yourself in a position you’re not ready for,” Ference said.

As for coach Claude Julien, he sidestepped questions about whether Ference, a leading penalty-killer for the Bruins, would earn his spot back when declared healthy and ready to go. Ference would likely nab the spot of Matt Bartkowski at this point, with Dennis Seidenberg already supplanting Dougie Hamilton last Saturday in Game 5 against the Rangers.

“You know what? We’€™re not there yet and until we’€™re there, I’€™m not answering those questions,” Julien said Tuesday. “It’€™s like we’€™re trying to get ahead of everything here. We’€™re not even close to starting a series. We’€™ll let him skate a little bit with us and see how he does. When the times comes, I’€™ll be more than happy to make that tough decision.

“It’€™s a good sign that he’€™s practicing with us. I don’€™t know. Again, it’€™s a medical issue that unless the trainers say it’€™s a go ‘€“ sometimes he may be ready, but could be a risky kind of ready. We’€™ll wait and see what our trainers say and how Andrew [Ference] feels, as well, before we make any decision on him.”

Read More: Andrew Ference, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg
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