|Shawn Thornton again takes one for the team||04.23.12 at 5:37 pm ET|
Shawn Thornton made his way out of the Bruins dressing room Monday just before reporters were allowed in. And that’s probably a good thing since he had to take one for the team on Sunday in the crucial Game 6.
With Patrice Bergeron ailing and his status uncertain, Claude Julien had to dress another skilled forward capable of carrying the play on the top two lines if needed. Jordan Caron was called upon for the first time in the series. But that meant someone had to sit. And just like Thornton sat to make room for Tyler Seguin after Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals against the Lightning last spring, Thornton was again asked to take a seat on Sunday to make room for Caron if Bergeron wasn’t 100 percent.
“Well, it certainly wasn't related to play,” Claude Julien said Monday when asked about his reasoning. “It was related to a decision I had to make just before the game. Those are ' hard for me to give you that reason right now because it would probably open up a can of worms, so I'm going to leave it at that. It's certainly not because of Thornton's play; it's because of necessity.”
Certainly not. Julien is well aware of the positive impact Thornton has had on his this team in their Stanley Cup run and in being an energy force on Saturday when the team was down 2-0. He delivered a pair of heavy forechecks in the Capitals zone and less than a minute later Brad Marchand was on the ice delivering the first of two goals in 28 seconds to tie the game late in the second period.
And remember, after Horton was knocked out of the Cup finals by Aaron Rome in Game 3, Thornton returned for Game 4 and was part of the “Merlot” energy line that carried play in the opening minutes of Game 7 against the Canucks last spring while the starters got their legs under them. Marchand scored two goals in that game and Thornton was again a force to be reckoned with. Don’t count him out for Game 7 on Wednesday either – if he gets the chance to play.
|Claude Julien on Game 7: ‘We don’t make things easy’||at 5:04 pm ET|
After watching six one-goal games between the two teams, no one should be surprised that the Capitals and Bruins are headed for a winner-take-all Game 7 to decide their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series.
As a matter of fact, listening to Bruins coach Claude Julien a day after his team survived a 4-3 overtime thriller in Game 6 in Washington, it’s almost expected. Are the Bruins approaching this Game 7 the way they did in their three Game 7s of 2011, when they became the first team ever to win three Game 7s and win the Stanley Cup?
“Well I guess that'll be probably answered after Game 7,” Julien said Monday at TD Garden, site of the showdown game Wednesday. “We don't make things easy, we didn't last year, but we got through it and we haven't gotten through it this year. So I think that's probably the difference right now is we need to get through Game 7 before we can look at it the same way.”
What was racing through his head when Tyler Seguin scored three minutes into OT Sunday?
“Well although I'm excited, I try to look calm,” Julien said. “I think that's the main thing here is, you know, you kind of regroup, go into the room and you do. For me, it's ' how do I keep our team focused and enjoying what they just accomplished but not let it slip to the point where you lose focus of what you have to do next. All we did last night, or yesterday afternoon, was tie the series. We didn't win it. There's still another game to be played; before we can be happy with this we've got to make sure we take care of Game 7. So, it's exciting because it was either that or we'd be here today packing our bags and going home and I don't think anybody's ready for that right now.”
If the Bruins get the same kind of production from their top two lines as they did in Game 6, there’s good reason to think they’ll be moving on to the second round.
“I think if you look at the last two games, it's true ' it's not just [Sunday], it's the day before, some of those guys started producing and helping us out,” Julien said. “So our secondary scoring has kept us in this series and allowed us to move forward. And now it's up to those guys to take over, and they have. [Tyler] Seguin's big goal, [David] Krejci's big goal, [Milan] Lucic'plays he's made, Patrice, [Rich] Peverley, those kinds of guys have all been ' [Brad] Marchand. Our top two line guys have really stepped up and that's made a big difference.”
In other news and notes from Monday’s media availability, the team did not practice on Monday, taking the day to rest instead, though several Bruins reported to the Garden to work out, get treatment and be available to the media. The team will practice on Tuesday in Wilmington at 11 a.m. … Julien said there was no update on injured defensemen Adam McQuaid and Joe Corvo.
McQuaid has been out the whole series since taking a hit into the boards late in the regular season from Washington’s Jason Chimera. Meanwhile, Corvo was injured in the right leg blocking a shot of Marcus Johansson on Saturday in Game 5. “As far as Joe is concerned I think he's going to be fine,” Julien said. “Adam McQuaid is still at the same spot he was before we left on the road.”
|Claude Julien: ‘Maybe in trouble, but we’re not dead’||04.22.12 at 10:50 am ET|
The Bruins know the refrain by now.
The series isn’t over till you win four games.
“Well there's certainly lots of guys in that dressing room that have gone through that and there's some others that are new to our hockey club that have to manage that as good as they can,” Julien said. “A guy like [Brian Rolston], he's got some experience so our guys that we've gotten are experienced guys so I don't see that as an issue. We're down 3-2 in the series and most people will tell you, until they win four games, that's when the series is over. So we've got an opportunity to get back into this series and create a Game 7 and that's what we're going to try to do.”
There were positives from Saturday that the B’s will try to carry over to today in Washington, like Milan Lucic getting in front of the net time and time again in the third period. Lucic’s “jam” in the slot created a point-blank chance for Tyler Seguin with 10 minutes left. Only a superhuman effort by Braden Holtby kept the Bruins from a late lead in their own building.
“There are some good things ' I don't think now's the time to start collaborating all those things with players,” Julien said. “Sometimes you've got to feel that sting a little bit in order to get yourself ready the next day and we'll address that tomorrow certainly before the game. Still a lot of good things that we did tonight and you look at some of the missed opportunities ' Seguin is one, he had grease tonight and those opportunities were there for him, so that's a positive. You wish he would have put some of those in and it's a different outcome. But building on the positives, and as I said, we're maybe in trouble but we're not dead and we're certainly going to make tomorrow a game that's going to create a Game 7 for us.”
Johnny Boychuk finally blew a cannon past Holtby to tie the game on the power play to tie the game, 3-3. He sees a lot of hope.
“I thought we came out really well,” he said. “Again, [Holtby] played extremely well ' he made that one stop and stretched out and got it with his toe. We did play well, but it wasn't good enough. They scored more goals than us and that's the end of the day. We lost the game and [today], we have to win.”
|Claude Julien responds to agent Allan Walsh’s tweet about player safety||04.18.12 at 4:01 pm ET|
ARLINGTON, Va. — In a postseason in which the hits have been dirtier, the play has gotten more out of control and the suspensions have been more common (nine already after there was a total of seven suspensions in the entire 2011 postseason), everyone’s looking for answers.
People want the players to police themselves more in hopes that more respect on the ice will mean less players being forced off it.
On Tuesday, agent Allan Walsh tweeted the following:
“This has spiraled from out of control to total chaos. Do we really need a player to die on the ice for this insanity to stop?”
When asked after Wednesday’s practice about cleaning up the game, Bruins coach Claude Julien mentioned Walsh and noted that less criticism and more education could solve the problem.
“I read something about an agent, it was Allan Walsh made a comment about that stuff,” Julien said, “but they're the ones that are representing these players. These players are all apart of the [NHL Players Association] and the fact is, I can tell you right now and I'll say it again, there's not a coach in this league, not one, that is going to tell his players to target somebody's head.
“Concussions are a serious and sensitive thing and I think we all respect that, so anybody who thinks otherwise is totally wrong. '¦ Somewhere along the line everybody's got to try and educate the players to be a little bit more careful that's what we keep trying to do. There's not a game in this world that is faster than ours right now. It's always easy to criticize but it's sometimes tough to make those split second decisions and sometimes it will happen and the guys knows and he regrets it and he apologizes and he's sincere, but the damage is done. Somehow we're all trying to figure out a way to minimize that and instead of criticizing and attacking that we should all be working together in order to make it better. I think if coaches, players, general managers, the organizations and the league ' if we all work together including the PA that's the best way to resolve it.”
ARLINGTON, Va. — Responses are usually saved for the ice in hockey, but on Wednesday the Bruins had to answer to something pretty serious.
On Tuesday, Washington coach Dale Hunter suggested the Boston players had been targeting the head of Nicklas Backstrom, who missed 40 games during the regular season with a concussion.
Backstrom was suspended for Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals for cross-checking Bruins forward Rich Peverley in the face after the Bruins’ 4-3 victory in Game 3. Hunter said on Tuesday that because of how the Bruins had been playing against him, Backstrom had to “protect himself.”
“That doesn’t make sense,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Wednesday’s practice at Kettler Capitals Iceplex. “I don’t know any coach that would tell his team to go after somebody’s head. It speaks for itself.”
Added Julien: “It’s ludicrous. It’s ridiculous. There’s always going to be emotions in games, and there’s things that are happening. Like I said [after Game 3], there was three cross-checks. They penalized one and they suspended one. We’re not whining about the refs and we need to win the series and what’s going on here. That’s where are focus is on. That’s what it should be.”
Bruins center Patrice Bergeron has returned from two major concussions in his day, and last season missed two playoff games with a concussion. He said he hasn’t gotten a sense that players target the heads of players returning from head injuries, and certainly hopes that id doesn’t happen on any team.
“I think we’re just playing playoff hockey,” Bergeron said. “We’re not worrying about who’s out there. I certainly would be the last guy to do something like that. I’ve been through it, so I don’t really worry about that, to be honest with you.”
Shawn Thornton doesn’t pay attention to other teams, whether it be their place in the standings, the scores of their games or the words that they say. One thing Thornton is sure of, however, is that Hunter’s accusation had nothing to do with a mere fourth-liner.
“I’m not on the ice against that guy anyway,” Thornton said of Backstrom, who once had 101 points in a season, “so I really don’t have to worry about it.”
|Are expectations high enough for Tyler Seguin?||04.17.12 at 12:10 pm ET|
WASHINGTON — Last year, the first round was a time for Tyler Seguin apologists to bash Claude Julien for not putting him in the lineup.
This year, the game sheet says that Seguin is in the lineup, but little else has.
Seguin, who is still just 20 years of age, has struggled to produce thus far in the postseason after leading the B’s with 29 goals and 67 points. He hasn’t been the only Bruins star forward to start the playoffs quietly, but after a dominant regular season, expectations to continue that means more pressure when the points aren’t coming.
While Seguin was very good in the beginning of the Eastern Conference finals (his Game 3 performance, though it featured no points, was perhaps the most complete game as a rookie), it isn’t a complete shock that he’s failed to match his regular-season success early on in the playoffs. He’s getting the minutes as a top-six forward, but two of the areas in which he isn’t particularly strong — battling for pucks and play in his own end — are ones that are often exploited in the postseason.
Julien was asked at Tuesday’s media availability what the team needs to do to get their young scorer going.
“I think we've got to, kind of, in a way leave him alone,” Julien said. “When I say leave him alone, we're helping him through it, but to put too much pressure on a young player like that, I don't think is the right approach, for me anyway.
“You've got to guide him along and you know he's going to find his game. He's not playing badly. But again, there's a lot of expectations on some of these young players and sometimes it is maybe not always fair. And that's why you've got guys like [Brian] Rolston and [Chris] Kelly and those kind of guys producing for us, because they're veterans and they've been through these situations before.”
To be fair to Seguin, he isn’t the only big name forward that needs to get going offensively for the B’s. Milan Lucic still doesn’t have a point, though he had a much better game on Monday. David Krejci, who led the NHL with 12 goals and 23 points last postseason, also does not have a point through the first three games.
The top two lines still have not scored a goal this postseason. Though Rich Peverley scored in the second period Monday, it came on 4-on-4 while he was on the ice with Kelly. The Bruins’ bottom-six forwards have scored four of the team’s six goals this postseason, a sign that the B’s need more from their top two lines. That means that the pressure is on their leading scorer from the regular season. Julien doesn’t think that pressure’s fair.
“Tyler last year was in and out of the lineup during the playoffs so for us to expect that he's just going to take over because he led our team in scoring, to me it's not reality,” Julien said. “He's going to find his way because he's a smart player, he's a good player, and we're going to allow him the time to do that without putting undue pressure on him.”
That doesn’t exactly sound like the biggest vote of confidence from Julien. The team should expect Seguin to take over games. He’s one of the most talented players in the league, even if he doesn’t play as physical a game as is required in the postseason. Seguin can dominate games, as the Bruins have seen before. They don’t need to make excuses for him, they just need him to start producing.
|Claude Julien has a message for his team: Stop being ‘cute’ with the puck||04.15.12 at 9:04 am ET|
There’s a four-letter word in hockey – especially during the playoffs.
It’s what players hate to be called and it’s what coaches hate to see from their players.
Saturday, Claude Julien saw a bit too much of it from his Bruins in a 2-1 double-overtime loss to the Capitals in Game 2 of their Eastern quarterfinal series.
“They play a patient game,” Julien said. “They sit back, and they get into their 1-4, and if you want to get cute in the neutral zone, then you're not getting pucks in, but it took us two periods to get ourselves going and get some more opportunities, and instead of using our outside speed and everything else, we just kind of made it easy on them. And, you know, at this stage of the year, you would like to see more net-front traffic, and you would like to see that puck going to the net a little bit more with guys heading in that direction, and we don't have a good enough commitment in that area right now to win hockey games.”
Julien has seen the commitment from the Chris Kelly line, with Benoit Pouliot and Brian Rolston again combining for the only Bruins goal – as was the case in Thursday’s 1-0 OT win. Now, Julien wants to see Patrice Bergeron‘s line of Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin do the same. Same goes for David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Rich Peverley. Read the rest of this entry »
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