|Shawn Thornton mum on healthy scratch||03.03.13 at 11:51 am ET|
Shawn Thornton was a surprise healthy scratch Saturday when Claude Julien sat him for the first time since last postseason. Wanting to get Jay Pandolfo in the lineup for the sake of shuffling his bottom-six forwards to team Daniel Paille with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley, Julien made the move to sit the veteran enforcer.
Speaking to WEEI.com Sunday morning, Thornton seemed less than thrilled with the healthy scratch. Asked Sunday if he was caught off guard by the benching, Thornton was uncharacteristically brief.
“It’s a tough question to answer,” Thornton said. “Actually I’m not going to answer it.”
Thornton did say the scratch was not explained to him, and that he was unsure of whether he would be back in the lineup Sunday against the Canadiens. Julien said that he’ll make that decision prior to the game, and said he doesn’t have to explain healthy scratches to players (for what it’s worth, Tyler Seguin said in 2011 that he was never given a reason for the team scratching him late in the season and into the postseason).
“You don’t want to baby players,” Julien said. “A lot of them, like Shawn, understand exactly what’s going on. He knows and he’s always had a great attitude. I told him just before we went out there when we got to the rink that I was contemplating maybe making a change, and I wasn’t sure and I was going to decide after the warmup. As long as he had a heads up instead of catching a guy like that, a veteran, at the last minute and telling them, ‘By the way you’re out.’ I do those kind of things, but I don’t have to to go into explanations. I don’t have time for that. Our guys know how we operate by now and there’s never been an issue with that.”
Julien had said entering the season that he was going to be quicker with roster decisions in the 48-game schedule, one in which wins are more important. Julien showed that by shaking up the top-six forwards last month against Montreal, and he showed it again Saturday when he wanted three lines capable of matching up with Tampa’s top-six forwards. He doesn’t feel he’s ruffled any feathers in the process.
“There’s no issues with Shawn,” Julien said. “He’s always been a team-first guy. That wasn’t an issue. We move guys around and we’re still team tough. We have other guys that can step up, as you saw yesterday. Those are things, in a tight schedule, you’re probably going to see more and more as we move forward here.”
|Claude Julien: ‘More that’s expected’ from Tyler Seguin||02.14.13 at 1:40 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Thursday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena that the B’s expect more out of Tyler Seguin, who has two goals (one of which is an empty-netter) in 11 games this season.
Last season, Seguin led the Bruins with 29 goals. His production has slowed in the early going of the shortened season, with Julien saying the team is eager to see him break out of his slump.
“We know we can get more out of him, and it’s a matter of pushing him, it’s a matter of him pushing himself,” Julien said. “He’s not a poor player, but I think there’s more that’s expected of him and there’s more that I think he’ll be able to give us. He’s still a young player, and you can squish him and make it worse or you can try and help him through it and push the right buttons and certainly help him get his game back to where it should be.”
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|Claude Julien keeping his options open with top-six forwards||02.12.13 at 12:06 pm ET|
Tyler Seguin was back on the ice in Tuesday’s morning skate, and with his return from a maintenance day came the return of the Bruins’ regular top-six forwards as the B’s prepare for the Rangers.
After flip-flopping Seguin and Nathan Horton on the top two lines over the last four periods, Claude Julien put Seguin back with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, while Nathan Horton is back with David Krejci and Milan Lucic. Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice, so he should be in net for the Bruins’ last home game until Feb. 28.
The lines were the following in the morning skate:
Following the morning skate, Seguin said that nothing in particular in the Bruins’ 3-1 win over the Sabres prompted his maintenance day and that he is “all good” physically.
As for the lines being reverted to what they were for the season’s first nine games, Julien said that the experiment of switching the right wings on the top two lines — something he did for the third period last week against the Canadiens to kick-start Seguin and the offense in general — is something he plans to keep in his repertoire going forward.
The Krejci line scored goals in its first two shifts in the third period against the Habs, and though Julien took a risk by breaking up a line that was flourishing with Horton, the power forward continued his strong season with a sensational performance against the Sabres while skating with Bergeron and Marchand.
“Interchangeable,” Julien said of Horton and Seguin. “I said it before — even after they came out and did a great job in Montreal, I said, ‘Listen, this could be temporary, and it could be for a while. It depends.’ There are some players there that are very interchangeable and it gives us some different options.”
Obviously, Horton and Seguin differ greatly as players. They’re both immensely skilled player (both top-three picks in their respective draft years), but Horton is a far more physical player, while Seguin’s offensive skillset is superior.
It’s those differences that allow Julien to get much different looks with a flick of the switch. Putting Seguin on Krejci’s line makes them faster, and as long as Lucic is his normal self, the line still isn’t soft. It may be more of a liability defensively, but thus far the line was a plus-3 over the last two games. Horton, meanwhile, adds more grit to an already hard-working line with Bergeron and Marchand.
At the end of the day, the B’s are still wiser to keep Seguin with Bergeron and Horton with Krejci. Any defensive shortcomings on Seguin’s end go unnoticed thanks to Bergeron, while the combination of Horton and Lucic gives Krejci’s line a bruising edge that makes them extremely difficult for opposing teams.
Either way, Julien has said that he’ll be quicker to tinker with his lineup this year than in seasons past due to the shortened schedule. It’s still early in the season, but the B’s are fortunate to know they have options that have proven to work.
|Claude Julien: Tyler Seguin ‘out of sync’||01.29.13 at 11:24 am ET|
It took an empty-netter on Monday night for Tyler Seguin to break his early season scoring drought, and Seguin’s first goal of the season was followed by his coach saying that the 20-year-old is still making adjustments.
Seguin is in his third year with the B’s, playing right wing after spending the majority of his junior career at center. He’s also getting reacclimated to the smaller ice of the NHL after spending the lockout playing in Switzerland.
“I think he is out of sync,” Claude Julien said Tuesday morning. “I think where the puck battles are along the boards, I think is somewhere where he’s always going to have to work a little harder at to get better because he’s always played center. At center, you’re always a support guy. He didn’t have to battle as much along the boards. He’s been put in a position that he hasn’t really played his whole life until he came here to Boston.
“That’s maybe a little bit of it, but he has been out of sync because of the way they played in Europe with the bigger ice surface. I mentioned how [much] more passive the game is over there, so he’s got more time and more room. Tyler, if you give him time and space he’s going to make something happen, but it’s a little more aggressive, a little tighter here and he’s readjusting. We hope that that goal last night really helped him get himself back on track and get a little bit of that confidence back.”
Seguin led the Bruins with 29 goals last season. In 29 games in the Switzerland during the lockout, Seguin had 25 goals and 15 assists for 40 points.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Will the Bruins be able to beat the Hurricanes this season?||01.27.13 at 1:33 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — In the next seven games, the Bruins will face only two teams that made the playoffs last season, but don’t think that means guaranteed smooth sailing.
The B’s will kick off a stretch of four games in six days by facing the Hurricanes, who finished last in the Southeast Division last season but beat the Bruins in all four of their meetings.
The Hurricanes improved in the offseason by adding forwards Jordan Staal and Alexander Semin, but they were problematic enough for the Bruins without them. Only one of the four contests between the two teams last season was a one-goal game (a 3-2 Hurricanes win on Oct. 12) and Carolina beat Boston by a combined score of 14-5.
“There’s certain teams that give other teams trouble, and we’re one of the teams that gives other teams trouble as well. ‘¦ They play a certain style that gives us a lot of trouble,” Claude Julien said after Sunday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “They’re a four-man attack team. Even this year, they always have a D up in the rush. We haven’t played our best against them, but at the same time, they’ve played some good games against us.
“This is going to be one of those probably more mental challenges than anything else. We’ve got to get over that hump and get that win as quick as we can so we can get that monkey off our back, if you [will]. Certainly it’s something that we’re well aware of, and we’re going to go in there tomorrow hopefully well-prepared.”
In the Bruins’ streaky 2011-12 season, Boston always ran into the Hurricanes either when they were slumping or to begin a skid. The Bruins lost to Carolina twice during their 3-7-0 month of October and later dropped a pair of games to the Hurricanes on Jan. 14 and Feb. 2, during a 7-9-1 stretch.
“There’s enough players around from last year that they know what this team did to us,” Julien said. “This is a team that didn’t make the playoffs, but they still beat us four games out of four. If you don’t realize that, you have to take a look in the mirror and understand that there’s a pretty god challenge ahead of you.”
|Claude Julien still sees plenty of room for improvement||01.26.13 at 10:46 am ET|
The Bruins have started out 3-0-1 and have looked impressive in the process.
But for 40 minutes Friday night, Claude Julien watched as his team was sluggish, falling behind 2-1 to the Islanders before recovering to tie the game, 2-2, before the third period.
“Obviously happy we haven’t lost in regulation yet. But, I don’t think we’re extremely happy with our game [Friday],” Julien said. “For 40 minutes, I didn’t think we were on top of our game, we didn’t seem to be in sync, we didn’t seem to have the energy that we usually show. So, it was a struggle for us tonight, but the last 20 were a little bit better, we found a way to win. A lot of times, that’s what you’ve got to do, you’ve got to push through those kind of nights and we did. So, you take the two points and you move on.”
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|Claude Julien on Rangers: ‘Let’s go at it’||01.19.13 at 12:39 pm ET|
For the most part, the Bruins have a relatively easy schedule for the first third or so of the season. They’ll only face two teams that made the playoffs last season in their first 15 games, but one of them is the Rangers, and they’ll face them three times.
To narrow it down even more, the Bruins will face the Rangers twice in their first three games of the 48-game season. The B’s and Rangers are two popular favorites to make it out of the Eastern Conference this season, as the B’s no longer have the Stanley Cup hangover excuse, while the Rangers have added six-time 30-goal-scorer Rick Nash to a roster that grabbed the top seed in the East last season.
That means both teams will have a couple of big tests right off the bat, and could easily begin the season with two early losses if they aren’t sharp enough. Claude Julien said after Saturday’s morning skate that he embraces the challenge.
“I don’t know if I feel more weight; I think I like that opportunity,” Julien said. “I really do. I’d rather play one of the best teams in the conference than not. And right now let’s go at it. Like I said, we’re both at the same stage where we’ve had six days of training camp. Let’s go at it. You know, we go at it again on Wednesday. So there’s no issue from my end of it, and as I’ve always said you control what you can and control your team and the schedule is made and then you go with it.”
Tuukka Rask, who will get the nod in net for the B’s Saturday, said that he expects the Rangers to be a difficult opponent with the addition of Nash, but that he expects every game to be a challenge.
“You know what? It doesn’t matter who you play against in this league,” he said. “Every team has good players, and everybody knows they added him during the offseason. They’ve got some power up front, so we’ve just got to be aware of that and get ready.”
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