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Bruins not dwelling on recent struggles vs. Canadiens 03.11.14 at 6:36 pm ET
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The Canadiens have beaten the Bruins in their last five meetings. (AP)

The Canadiens have beaten the Bruins in their last five meetings. (AP)

MONTREAL — Whenever the Bruins and Canadiens play, it’s a big game. For the last year, the rivalry has been a big disappointment for the Bruins.

The Habs have won the last five meetings between the two teams dating back to last March 3 and are looking to improve to 3-0-0 against the B’s this season. In each of the last three games between the teams, the Bruins have scored just one goal.

The B’s can’t put their finger on why the Habs have had their number, but Claude Julien ventured a guess Tuesday.

“I can’€™t answer that, but I can tell you one thing: I don’€™t think we’€™ve played well against them,” Julien said. “Have they given us trouble or have we given ourselves trouble? That’€™s the thing we’€™ve got to figure out here because in my mind it’€™s not to take any credit away from them but I’€™m going to talk more about this year.

“The game in Boston [a 4-1 Habs win on Jan. 31], we just weren’€™t playing well at all, so hopefully tomorrow we’€™ll paint a different picture, and if we play the way we’€™ve played lately I think it’€™s going to be a great game. So we’€™ve just got to focus on that.”

While the troublesome outings have been there for the B’s in recent meetings with the Canadiens, Julien wouldn’t go as far as saying that the Habs do something that throws them off their game. Read the rest of this entry »

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Claude Julien: Dougie Hamilton is ‘not going to sit long’ for Bruins at 6:06 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

MONTREAL — Healthy scratches aren’t expected to be a regular thing for Dougie Hamilton, so it was rather surprising in the team’s first practice since Hamilton was benched for Andrej Meszaros that Hamilton was skating on the team’s fourth pairing with Corey Potter.

However, Claude Julien cautioned against reading into the pairings in Tuesday’s practice at the Bell Centre, which were as follows:

Zdeno Chara – Andrej Meszaros
Matt Bartkowski – Johnny Boychuk
Torey Krug – Kevan Miller
Dougie Hamilton – Corey Potter

“No, no, don’€™t read into that guys, I didn’€™t even make pairs today,” Julien said at the mention of Hamilton skating with Potter. “They just kind of paired themselves, believe it or not. We were just doing a practice here at moving pucks and so on and so forth. There was nothing; don’€™t read anything into what you saw today as far as who’€™s with who. Like I said, I didn’€™t even make pairs today.”

Though he did not say whether Hamilton will be back in the lineup Wednesday against the Canadiens, Julien stressed that Meszaros wasn’t acquired to take Hamilton’s job.

“Dougie’€™s not going to sit long,” Julien said. “Dougie has played good hockey and he’€™s been good for us, so Dougie is not going to be the guy that is going to be singled out here. Dougie is going to be back in our lineup, and it’€™s just a matter of me making those tough decisions.

“We hadn’€™t lost a game and we put Mez in; we played fairly well. Now we won again, [but it] doesn’€™t mean my lineup’€™s not going to change. So I’€™ve got to make some tough decisions here as we move forward, but the good part is we’€™ve got a lot of games in a short span of time, so there’€™s lots of room for everybody to get in there.”

As for Meszaros, Julien said that the team is trying out the left-shooting Meszaros on the right side — as it did Sunday when he played with Chara — to make sure he is comfortable playing both sides.

“He’€™s played left all year. He’€™s played right most of his career, but right now we know he can play left,” Julien said. “The toughest part is for a guy to play on his off-side, so we’€™ve got him playing right in practice right now just to make sure, because he hasn’€™t played the right side this year. He’€™s played for about 10 years on the right side, but this year he hadn’€™t played there, so we’€™re just giving him an opportunity here to get comfortable there as well because we’€™re going to need him to play both sides.”

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Claude Julien on Patrice Bergeron: ‘Now there’s no doubt in my mind that everybody knows how good he is’ 02.25.14 at 3:58 pm ET
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Patrice Bergeron won his second gold medal at the Olympics in Sochi. (AP)

Patrice Bergeron won his second gold medal at the Olympics in Sochi. (AP)

Claude Julien called coaching a gold medal-winning Canada team in the Olympics “a once in a lifetime kind of thing” upon returning to Bruins practice Tuesday, but he seemed just as happy for Patrice Bergeron as he was for himself.

Julien, who was an associate coach under head coach Mike Babcock, said he found it very satisfying to see Bergeron — a player who has won gold at both the World Championships and World Junior Championships, win the Stanley Cup and added his second gold medal over the weekend — cement his standing as one of the world’s best players, even if he often gets overlooked because he doesn’t put up as many points as others.

“He’s such a complete player, and it’s nice to see that he was seen the same way on a bigger stage,” Julien said. “Now there’s no doubt in my mind that everybody knows how good he is.”

It didn’t take long for Bergeron, who began as the team’s fourth-line right wing on a line with Jamie Benn and John Tavares, to establish himself as a difference-maker on a loaded roster. With Norway playing Canada in a much closer game than anyone could have expected early on in Canada’s opening game of the preliminary round, Bergeron assisted goals from Shea Weber and Jamie Benn in a 3-1 win, the latter of which was the result of a beautiful pass from Bergeron in the offensive zone.

As the tournament went on, Bergeron moved up to play with Sidney Crosby and he proved to be a big asset in keeping the team’s semifinal game against Team USA a 1-0 contest.

“He was one of our best players and I’m not afraid to say that,” Julien said of Bergeron’s performance. “He came in and his line in that first game, with Benn and Tavares, was probably our best line. He was playing so well, he ended up moving up to the Crosby line and basically brought some good stability to that line and they were much better from then on.

“He made a lot of highlight clips in our reviews just by how hard he worked on both sides of the coin. Defensively, offensively, he made some great things. Forecheck, turn pucks over, backcheck.”

Bergeron used the stage provided by the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup to show anyone unsure of his abilities that he is among the game’s best players. In addition to being the best faceoff man in the world, his two-way play was impressive enough to make the Pro Hockey Writers Association realize that he was overdue for the Selke Trophy, which he was given the next season.

Bergeron will never be one the two or three biggest names in the league because though he plays the sport as well as anyone else, his two-way prowess isn’t as sexy as putting up a ton of goals or points, a la a Sidney Crosby, Alexander Ovechkin or Steven Stamkos.

Still, Julien says, there’s no confusion among big-name players that Bergeron is one of the best in the game today.

“He’s not Crosby and he’s not those kind of guys in people’s minds, but when the puck is dropped — and you can even ask Sid — Sid loves playing with him,” Julien said. “They played together in World and Junior championships. They’ve been linemates and he just loves playing with him. He’s got a great appreciation for Bergy.”

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Claude Julien says Team Canada has strong goaltending with Roberto Luongo, Carey Price 02.07.14 at 4:38 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Claude Julien doesn’t like to talk too much about other teams’ players, so in a session with the media Friday that centered largely around the Olympics, the Team Canada Associate Coach was rather tight-lipped when asked to assess Tuukka Rask‘s chances with Team Finland.

“You’re asking me a question that has nothing to do with Team Canada, so I don’t comment on other teams,” Julien said with a smirk. “I’m happy that Finland has chosen Tuukka. He’s had a good year.”

Finland is considered to be stacked at the goaltender position, as it features Rask, Antti Niemi and Kari Lehtonen. Team Canada is considered to be loaded, though its perceived weakness — if it has one — is in net, where it has Roberto Luongo, Carey Price and Mike Smith. Price and Luongo both have a 2.36 goals-against average as of Friday, good for 14th and 16th in the NHL, respectively, while Smith is 37th in the league with a 2.85 clip.

“We’re fine. We’re fine,” Julien said. “I mean, we’ve got a goaltender in Luongo that won a gold medal. You’ve got a goaltender in Price that, to me, has probably been one of the steadiest goaltenders this year, has done a great job for Montreal, and then Smith has had a good year.

“Where people may be questioning that, I’m not. Right now, it’s just a matter of going out and showing that we have the right goaltending threesome to again compete for that gold.”

This marks the second time this week that Luongo has been defended by a member of the Bruins, as Milan Lucic went out of his way to speak to the character of the embattled Canucks netminder on Monday.

“I think too many people point the finger too much on Luongo,” Lucic said. “I think he’s a great goaltender, and I mean, he was still able to get [the Canucks] one win away from the ultimate goal. I think it shows the type of person that he is going through what he went through with how he was treated over there by everyone, and he still managed to keep his game at a high level, and he’s back on the Olympic team. He’s still one of the best goaltenders in the league, so as far as that goes, it shows a lot about his character and I wish him all the best in Sochi.”

On the subject of Steven Stamkos, who undoubtedly has a big fan in Julien (the Bruins coach visited Stamkos in the hospital after the young superstar broke his tibia in Boston in November), Julien said he felt bad that the Lightning center wouldn’t be headed to Sochi, but feels Martin St. Louis is a more than serviceable replacement.

“It is disappointing, because he’s one of the elite players,” Julien said. “I think everybody knows he was a shoo-in right from the get-go, but at the same time we keep talking about our depth and how Canada has enough players to make two teams. Well, we went and got another player that, in my mind, deserved to be on our team right from the start.

“When I say that, [I mean] we have to limit ourselves to a certain number, but there’s no doubt that he’s good enough to play — we’re talking about Marty St. Louis here — and there’s others on that list that could easily step into our lineup. You live with the situation, and I think if anything, they’re very smart at making the decision that’s for the well-being of Steven Stamkos. It’s unfortunate for us, but in the long run for the athlete and for the people that want to watch the guy play and be part of the NHL, it was the right decision, I guess.”

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Tuukka Rask on Claude Julien ExplanationGate: ‘He’s the boss’ 01.31.14 at 1:26 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Claude Julien was all hot and bothered Thursday night when pressed for a reason as to why he pulled Tuukka Rask in the second period of the team’s 4-1 loss to the Canadiens. Julien said he didn’t have to explain himself and that some of the moves he makes are for the team to understand and not anyone else.

Rask obviously wasn’t happy with being pulled after the game, but he agreed Friday that Julien doesn’t need to explain his decisions to anyone — even him.

“No,” Rask said. “He’s the boss and he makes decisions based on what he sees on the ice. He doesn’t have to tell anybody anything. I battle out there as long as I need to. [Yesterday] didn’t last too long, and it’s too bad.”

As for whether he would like his coach to discuss his play and why he’d been pulled, Rask replied, “Doesn’t matter to me.”

Rask, who still leads the NHL with five shutouts and is fifth in the league with a .928 save percentage, has been pulled four times since Dec. 14. Thursday’s was the most controversial given that only one of the goals he allowed was particularly bad and Julien’s postgame comments.

‘€œDon’€™t think I have to explain myself [for] why I pull a goalie, OK? Because this isn’€™t going to be one of those things where we make a big story out of a pulled goalie,” Julien said. “Our team was poor tonight, ‘€˜K? So maybe sometimes you pull a goalie for different reasons, and I don’€™t think I have to explain everything to you guys for the reasons, because there’€™s a lot of decisions that I make that are for inside that dressing room, not necessarily for everyone to share.’€

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Claude Julien in no mood to explain why he pulled Tuukka Rask 01.30.14 at 10:57 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask didn’t seem happy about being pulled Thursday, and Claude Julien was in no mood to explain why.

After Brian Gionta scored on the power play to make it 3-1 in the second period of Montreal’s win Thursday, Julien pulled Rask for the fourth time since Dec. 14. Rask was visibly upset as he left the ice, and after the game said that he felt “OK” in the game.

“I play as long as they tell me to play,” Rask said, “so I try to battle out there are hard as I can, I stay out there as long as I possibly can and today it lasted a little over one period. It’s too bad.”

The Habs’ second goal came on a breakaway off a turnover from Daniel Paille, while the first goal was a shot from the point that went through a lot of traffic. Though Gionta’s goal in which he tipped in a Tomas Plekanec shot was a bad goal to give up, it was still somewhat surprising to see Rask yanked given the circumstances of the goals he allowed.

“It’s a lot of everything,” Julien said after the game when asked why he pulled Rask. “That’s decisions that I make and I don’t feel I have to explain [them] every time.”

Later in Julien’s press conference, he was asked what “a lot of everything” includes.

“[It] includes what I want it to,” Julien said. “Don’t think I have to explain myself [for] why I pull a goalie, OK? Because this isn’t going to be one of those things where we make a big story out of a pulled goalie. Our team was poor tonight, ‘K? So maybe sometimes you pull a goalie for different reasons, and I don’t think I have to explain everything to you guys for the reasons, because there’s a lot of decisions that I make that are for inside that dressing room, not necessarily for everyone to share.”

The loss Thursday night dropped Rask to 2-10-2 in his career against the Canadiens. For a guy who has dominated most other teams, those numbers are alarming. It may be a little early in his career to bring up the Pedro Martinez-Yankees comparison, but the Canadiens have been Rask’s kryptonite.

“I don’t know,” Rask said of why he’s put up poor numbers against Montreal. “I mean, I haven’t played too many bad games against them; I just can’t get the wins. I mean, it sucks, but what can you do? Just hopefully by the end of my career, they’re better.”

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Bruins playing it safe with families given threat of danger at Olympics 01.23.14 at 11:41 pm ET
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With suicide bombings striking Russia and the threat of more — three potential suicide bombers are rumored to be on the loose — leading up to the Olympics, Bruins representatives are unsure of whether they want their families there.

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, who will be Slovakia’s captain and flag bearer, has plans for his father, a former Olympic wrestler and coach, to go. However, he told WEEI.com Thursday that his family is still taking things (one of which is safety) into consideration.

“Not sure,” Chara said. “We’re planning. Everything is set up for him to come, but we have to still wait for a few things [and see] how it goes.”

David Krejci, who will represent the Czech Republic, does not want his mother to go, though she intends to see her son play.

‘€œI told my family not to go, but my mom wants to go so I can’€™t stop her,” Krejci said. “I would prefer if she didn’€™t go. I understand everybody who doesn’€™t want their families to go. It’€™s a scary situation. I’€™m sure the Russian president is going to take care of everything and he’€™ll make the Olympic Games safe, but we’€™ll see what happens.”

Added Krejci: ‘€œI’€™ve been reading papers and watching TV, so I know there’€™s been a lot of talk about it. I know [the United States] have sent lots of military people over there, so it’€™s going to be interesting. You kind of don’€™t know what you’€™re getting into but I’€™m sure they’€™re going to do everything they can to make it safe.’€

Claude Julien, who is on Canada’s coaching staff, faces a similar situation with his wife, who wants to go, while Julien would rather his family be safe.

“That’s still a debate right now. Not my family. If anything, it will be my wife, but that’s still under debate right now,” Julien said. “There is concern, like anybody else, but there’s concern like that everywhere else. I think it’s been exposed more because of what it represents, but it’s a decision we’ll make later.”

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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