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Claude Julien mum on postseason goaltending plans 04.22.13 at 2:49 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask

WILMINGTON — Claude Julien operates a certain way and he rarely strays from it, but might this shortened season change the circumstances?

The Bruins have made the playoffs in each of the six seasons Julien has been in Boston, with this season being the sixth. Julien has used only one goalie in every postseason, with the backup never seeing the ice. In the first two seasons it was Tim Thomas, followed by Tuukka Rask in 2010 and then Thomas again in each of the last two postseasons.

Rask has started 31 games this season, with Anton Khudobin getting 13 starts, which has made for a 70-30 split in Rask’s favor. Yet with the postseason scheduling figuring to be just as condensed as the regular season schedule, the B’s could find themselves in a position where they don’t want to overwork Rask.

Asked about this season altering his strategy come playoff time, Julien was mum.

“We’re not there yet,” Julien said. “I think a lot of it has to do with if the goalie’s playing extremely well, you ride your goaltender,” he said. “If you need to make a change for whatever reason, you make a change, but it’s hard for me to answer that right now.”

Over the past two postseasons, the Bruins have had two sets of back-to-backs in a total of five series. Both came in Games 6 and 7 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals (against the Canadiens in 2011 and against the Capitals last year), with Thomas starting both games each time.

This past weekend, Rask started games on back-to-back games for the first time this season. The last time he had started games on consecutive days was on Feb. 17 and 18 of the 2011 season. The B’s did not have back-to-back games in the 2010 postseason in which Rask went the whole way against the Sabres and Flyers.

Read More: Anton Khudobin, Claude Julien, Tuukka Rask,
Claude Julien: Emotional week for Boston will ‘always leave a scar’ 04.20.13 at 11:50 am ET
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Prior to Saturday’s game against the Penguins, Bruins coach Claude Julien expressed what his emotions were Friday as the city was in lockdown leading up to the arrest of Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

Julien, who said he was “glued to the TV all day” on Friday, said he’s relieved that the suspects have been caught (Tsarnaev’s older brother was killed Thursday night) and that the B’s now have the responsibility of helping Boston get back to where it was before Monday’s attack.

“When those things happen in your city, it’s a normal thing to be a little bit concerned, and like everybody else, extremely happy when they finally got the second suspect,” Julien said. “At least we can all breathe a little easier and sleep a little easier. Now it’s hopefully time to work ourselves into trying to get things back to normal again. It will always leave a scar somewhere. There’s some damage done, but now we have to do a job to do today. That, unfortunately, is what our responsibility is.”

Bruins and Penguins players, as well as Penguins coach Dan Bylsma (as spotted by ESPN’s Joe McDonald) wore “Boston Strong” Bruins shirts prior to Saturday’s game. The shirts can be purchased here for $26, with 100 percent of proceeds going to the One Fund Boston to benefit the families of the victims.

It was a gesture like that on the Penguins’ part, much like Sabres forward Thomas Vanek‘s idea to salute the Boston following Wednesday’s game, that shows that the emotions of this week are felt beyond Boston. Julien said he expects the Penguins to be just as emotional as the Bruins Saturday, so both teams will need to bear down in a matchup of two of the Eastern Conference’s top teams.

“There’s no way of going out there and using excuses,” Julien said. “If it bothers us, it’s going to bother the other team. It happened in our city, but it’s affected everybody around the world. We’re glad they caught the suspects and now it’s time to let them do their work and time for us to do ours.”

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

Read More: Claude Julien, Dan Bylsma,
Brad Marchand: ‘I was definitely fighting back tears’ 04.18.13 at 11:19 am ET
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Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand could not have picked a more emotional night to make their returns from concussions.

Bergeron hadn’t played since April 2, a span of six games. Marchand missed the last two games since being elbowed by Anton Volchenkov of the Devils.

Neither player figured in the scoring but both had a positive signs of bouncing back on a night the city of Boston looked to bounce back.

“They both played well and they both played hard,” their coach Claude Julien said after Boston’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Sabres. “You know, it’s unfortunate they didn’t get rewarded with anything tonight, but they had some great opportunities. And you’ve got to give their goaltender credit; he played extremely well for them tonight and allowed them to stay in that 2-1 game for a long time. I think had there been another goaltender it could have been a totally different story.”

Marchand, like everyone in the building, wasn’t thinking about himself but rather being part of something bigger during the national anthem.

Never were the emotions higher than during the national anthem for Marchand.

“It was extremely emotional. I was definitely fighting back tears,” he said. “To see again how everyone was reacting to that video, it obviously touched not only people who were here tonight but everyone at home, too, watching. It’s something that we’ll never forget. For everyone to show their respect and obviously give their thoughts and prayers for everyone, it’s great that everyone is kind of coming together at this time and helping each other out.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Boston Marathon tragedy, Brad Marchand, Claude Julien
Claude Julien: Bruins fans ‘made you feel proud of this city’ at 9:32 am ET
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Whether player, coach or team staffer, Wednesday night was a night of solidarity.

That was a point made unmistakably clear by Bruins coach Claude Julien, even after a 3-2 loss to the Sabres at TD Garden.

Julien was asked about his reaction to the fans singing the national anthem and the “We are Boston” chants throughout the game.

“Well, I think like everybody else, it was pretty emotional,” Julien said. “In a way, it made you feel proud of this city and of our fans of this solidarity that was shown throughout this whole thing. Certainly, like I said, proud of this city for how they responded.

“The national anthem was pretty touching. And, obviously, everything that they did. I remember the video, I remember the national anthem and we even saw those people up there on the screen in the TV timeouts. And looking up there and realizing that those guys have done an unbelievable job for this city throughout this crisis and we should be grateful to a lot of people and we should also feel for the people that are going through it right now. I think we still do.”

Did it ever felt like a normal hockey game to Julien and his staff?

“I don’t know,” Julien said. “I think through it all, our guys really wanted to battle hard and make it happen. We had a lot of chances and, sure we probably didn’t bury those and we’d like to be better in regards to that, but the main goal is to go out there and really play well for the cause and I thought we played a really decent game. Unfortunately, sometimes bounces don’t go your way. They tied it up late in the game and I thought we probably deserved to win at that point.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Boston Marathon, Buffalo Sabres, Claude Julien
Bruins prepare for emotional return to action 04.17.13 at 12:41 pm ET
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The Bruins will wear a "Boston Strong" decal on their helmets. (Boston Bruins photo)

Wednesday will be an emotional night at TD Garden, as the Bruins’ contest against the Sabres marks the first professional sporting event in Boston since Monday’s bombings at the Marathon.

“We don’t only need to be ready, but we need to show that we want to support everyone in the city,” Daniel Paille said after Wednesday’s morning skate.

The security was ramped up at TD Garden Wednesday, with all entrants being tested with a security wand and having their bags checked thoroughly. Additionally, the Bruins’ helmets now have “Boston Strong” decals on the back.

It isn’t the game-day experience everyone’s used to in which you go to the morning skate, go home and come back to play a game with the rest of one’s everyday life sprinkled in. It’s amplified and it’s more emotional because the seconds spent off the ice are occupied by dealing with Monday’s events. The important thing, Claude Julien said, is that the Bruins use their emotions for good Wednesday night.

“It’s a natural thing to still be emotional, but yesterday’s practice had a lot of energy. Today’s skate, we seemed to be showing a lot of energy,” Julien said. “The only thing left is to bring it to the game and really put it in the right place where we can do what we want to accomplish.”

What the Bruins hope to accomplish is obvious. They want to give Boston not only a distraction from its grieving, but, to quote Brad Marchand from Tuesday, “something to believe in.” They can’t make everything better, but they can help.

“The one thing I sense from our team is we have the ability to maybe help people heal and find some reason to smile again by representing our city properly,” Julien said. “To me, this is a time when you’re proud to be associated with a professional team. Even the NHL and all professional sports. When you look at the support this city’s had from rivals and everything else that are giving us support at this time, it’s amazing. We have an opportunity to make our city proud, and I think we’re all in for it. Hopefully we can do that for the city right now.”

Folks get into the National Anthem every game, but it figures to be an impassioned scene prior to Wednesday’s game. The players have felt the weight of Monday’s events like the rest of the city, so they’ll have to deal with the challenge of keeping it together once they hit the ice.

“Obviously it’s going to be emotional in the beginning, we’re going to show respect, but after that, for the next two and a half hours, we just have to play the game,” David Krejci said. “It’s all we can do to give something to Boston to be happy about.”

Read More: Claude Julien, Daniel Paille, David Krejci,
Opinion: Claude Julien needs to schedule rest time for weary Bruins 04.12.13 at 1:34 pm ET
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I’m sick of hearing that the Bruins are tired.

“We ran out of gas,” Claude Julien claimed after Thursday night’s loss to Islanders. “The effort and will was there. They were obviously a little fresher than we were.”

If Tyler Seguin and the Bruins have tired legs, it's up to coach Claude Julien to give them time to get back to full strength before the playoffs. (AP)

Maybe.

That quote came just two days after he said, “The schedule has been as tough as it could ever be on an athlete. We’ve got to be careful of how hard we push those guys, because they are tired.”

I don’t disagree.

The schedule obviously has been brutal. Yes, the Bruins face the same difficulties as every other team in the league, but they currently are in the worst of the gauntlet. Whereas they started the season with more days off than most other teams, they are paying the price for that now.

So I’m happy to concede that exhaustion is playing a role in their recent string of uninspired performances.

Normally, this is the time where I would remind athletes and coaches that if they avoid making an excuse out loud, someone will make it for them. We all know the schedule is tough; let us remind people and it will sound more like an explanation and less like an excuse.

And for Tyler Seguin, who said Thursday night that while he wasn’t making excuses, “we ran out of gas after three games in four nights,” I would repeat that message.

But to Julien, I would offer some additional advice.

If your team is so tired, do something about it!

Look, we all know the Bruins are going to make the playoffs and it’s a virtual certainty that they will fill either the second or fourth seed. So, what would be the harm in resting a few exhausted players for a game or two? If they are so desperate for some fresh legs, why not create them?

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Read More: Claude Julien, Dougie Hamilton, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Chara
What to make of these Bruins as they head into homestretch 04.08.13 at 1:26 am ET
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Tyler Seguin will have to step up with Patrice Bergeron out indefinitely. (AP)

How good are the Bruins? Depends on your mentality.

The optimist loves their chances. He remembers that the team is one of just four with fewer than 10 regulation losses. The pessimist, on the other hand, is worried. He notices that five of those losses have come in their last 11 games. The realist, meanwhile, is trying to figure out just who these Bruins really are.

Good luck, realist.

Regardless of your level of hope, there is no doubt that Bruins are scuffling right now. The team that looked dead in Philadelphia, asleep for 50 minutes in Buffalo, gave up 87 shots in two home games and then embarrassed itself when it couldn’t even muster a shot in their six-on-four power play late in Montreal is clearly not the same group that cruised to a 19-4-3 record to start the year.

There are some obvious differences. These Bruins have had serious personnel changes since the start of the year. Not only have they lost the contributions from two key centermen (Chris Kelly and now Patrice Bergeron), but their loss has tested their depth at the position. It has forced Claude Julien to juggle his lines and shift both Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley from the wing, weakening two of his four lines. They’ve also been forced to test their depth on the blue line as Matt Bartkowski and Aaron Johnson have spelled the injured Adam McQuaid and Johnny Boychuck.

Fortunately for the B’s, I think the optimists win this one. Boychuck is already back. Kelly is close to returning. McQuaid has now skated with the team. Only Bergeron remains as a great mystery for the playoffs, and without him I think we all become horribly pessimistic. He is that important to their postseason chances. Without his presence, as Paul Pierce said about Kevin Garnett‘s effect on the Celtics, “They aren’t going anywhere.”

During this downturn, however, we’ve seen a run of third-period losses. A team once built upon late-game surges has seen its power turned off in key spots. I see two possible explanations: Either the Bruins are getting tired in the third periods, or their goalie keeps losing concentration.

I think the B’s are just tired, and so on this question I’ll remain optimistic as well. Much has been made of the condensed schedule and the toll it is taking on especially physical teams. Julien’s blueprint has always been to beat you up for 40 minutes then take advantage of your exhaustion late. If the schedule has prevented them from playing as physically as they’d like, I’ll assume that they are smartly keeping something in reserve for the playoffs.

But that doesn’t mean there aren’t causes for major concern.

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Read More: Bruins, Claude Julien, Tyler Seguin,
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