|Tuukka Rask defensive, but says confidence isn’t shaken||03.24.13 at 2:17 pm ET|
After jumping out ahead of the pack in the Eastern Conference early on in the season, the Bruins find themselves in their most trying times with 18 games left on their schedule. They’ve lost three of their last four in regulation, and Claude Julien has tried different tactics in recent days to wake a team that’s been bad for the first time.
Part of that included giving back-to-back starts to Anton Khudobin for the first time this season when he put the backup between the pipes Thursday in Ottawa and Saturday in Toronto. That followed a 3-1 loss to the Jets Tuesday in which Winnipeg marched back from a 1-0 deficit in the third period with three unanswered goals (one of which was an empty-netter), resulting in Julien saying following the game that the B’s needed “timely saves” and didn’t get them from Tuukka Rask.
Rask made his return to the net in the third period of Saturday’s loss to the Maple Leafs, but it’s been a strange week for him. He got called out by his coach for the first time this season and was then given his longest stretch of time on the bench all year.
The 26-year-old, who is in the final year of his contract and will be a restricted free agent following its expiration, bit his tongue when asked about Julien’s comments.
“We do need timely saves,” Rask agreed. “It’s no secret I don’t think, right?”
As for Khudobin getting back-to-back starts, Rask doesn’t feel threatened or shaken by Julien’s decision.
“I’d like to play every game, obviously, but I didn’t take it too personally,” he said. “I’ve got to play good games, I realize that. Some tough losses there, I let in two goals in Pittsburgh and Winnipeg and we lose the games, but I wasn’t awful. It shouldn’t break my confidence.”
Julien insists that he wasn’t trying to send any sort of message to Rask by sitting him for consecutive games. He was correct in pointing out that Khudobin’s been more than serviceable thus far and added that he simply wanted to reward Khudobin for breaking Boston’s two-game losing streak Thursday.
“Tuukka is Tuukka. He’s hard on himself,” Julien said. “My thinking behind that was that Khudobin’s played well for us this year, and after playing that game in Ottawa where he was really good, he deserved a second start. I anticipated that this week coming up, Tuukka would have lots of opportunities to play. It was more based on what I saw coming up and on [Khudobin’s] play. Unfortunately it didn’t pan out [well] but Tuukka went in there and I thought he was solid in the jobs that he got in the third period.”
In fact, Rask wasn’t very hard on himself, but more defensive on Sunday. After saying that he agreed with Julien’s “timely saves” comment, Rask was asked how he’d assess his level of play of late. He responded by saying that he was between the pipes as the Jets came back, but that he didn’t single-handedly blow the game.
Said Rask: “I’m not blaming myself for those goals, but we were still up 1-0 and it would be nice to at least get a point out of that, but I don’t think I’ve been awful, if that’s what you’re saying.”
Rask wouldn’t be getting all of this attention were it not for Julien’s comments Tuesday. He’s been one of the league’s top goaltenders this season (Greg Wyshynski of Yahoo! Sports even wrote on Tuesday that Rask should be the favorite to win the Vezina) and his team hasn’t scored in front of him. Still, the last week has served as a bit of a speed bump in Rask’s first full season as a starter and it will be interesting to see how he comes out of it.
The morning after the Bruins concluded their 1-3-0 road trip, Claude Julien shook up his lines for Sunday’s practice. All four lines were different, with Milan Lucic receiving the biggest demotion by going from the first line to the third line.
The lines were as follows:
Asked why he altered the lines, Julien responded, “Because I can. Because I’m the coach.”
The Bruins scored just six goals over the four-game road-trip. They will return to action Monday against the Maple Leafs.
Johnny Boychuk (leg) did not practice, and he remains day-to-day after leaving Friday’s practice.
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Claude Julien admits: ‘We’re certainly not perfect right now’||03.08.13 at 12:26 am ET|
The Bruins had to battle with a Toronto team that, despite playing on the road the night before, came into Boston and gave the Bruins a game before wilting under the persistent pressure of Boston’s top line of Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand. Still the Bruins are 15-3-3 right now, good for 33 points and a spot near the top of the Eastern Conference with Montreal Canadiens.
“We’re certainly not perfect right now,” Julien said. “We’re certainly not firing on all cylinders. I think right now, we’re laboring through it. But, the work ethic was there tonight. The peaks and valleys of a season are pretty obvious that watching us play, nothing is real easy right now. The fact that we’re working through it ‘ if we keep working like that it will come back.”
Julien did like one particular aspect of his team – the fact that they didn’t panic when the Leafs cut the lead to one, 3-2, with just over five minutes left in regulation. The Bruins were up, 3-2, against the Canadiens Sunday night and lost, 4-3. They blew a 3-0 lead in Washington Tuesday night and lost 4-3 in overtime. The Bruins were determined not to have it happen again.
“I think their whole attitude was, ‘listen, we’re here to win, let’s not play on our heels. Let’s go get the next one,'” Julien said. “We had a couple good scoring chances after they made it 3-2. Like I said before, we even scored that empty netter. At least we didn’t sit back,we didn’t panic. Our guys responded well, we looked more like the team of before, when they made it 3-2, than we did the last couple games.”
The Bruins got a big boost from Anton Khudobin, who stopped 25 of 27 shots in the win.
“I don’t know if it was to find out more, but I think that it’s the confidence we had in him that we could put him in against real good team,” Julien said. “The Leafs played a really good game for a team that played last night and they played hard and gave us all that we could handle. But he deserved to be in that game and we knew he could give us that and again it’s about the schedule and making sure that we rotate our goal tenders and make sure that we keep our goal tenders as fresh as possible because there are guys that on a lot of nights that will make a difference in a game. So it wasn’t so much about what can he do more we have the confidence that he can do it.
For more, visit the Bruins team page at weei.com/bruins.
|Claude Julien: ‘I didn’t say anything wrong’||03.04.13 at 12:37 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins coach Claude Julien said Monday that he doesn’t regret Sunday’s comments about the Canadiens embellishing, though when speaking about it Monday, he steered away from singling out the Habs.
“I didn’t say anything wrong,” Julien said. “I didn’t blame the refs, I didn’t blame [anyone]. I said the embellishment puts refs in a tough position because they call it, it’s one thing, but if they call it and the guy’s really injured, it makes them look bad. We’re not helping the referees by embellishing. It makes it tough for them. It’s not as easy to correct as it seems because there’s consequences if they make a mistake on calling an embellishment.”
Added Julien: “Like I’ve talked about before with hits from behind, responsibility also has to come from the guy getting hit, to stop putting yourself in a vulnerable position. I think embellishment is the same thing. You’re embarrassing the game and there’s no room for it.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
“Well, it doesn’t help,” Julien said. “Again, we’re a good enough team that that shouldn’t be the factor and it wasn’t. We only gave them four shots in the third period, but two of them ended up in goals. I thought we could have done a better job in the D-zone. The way that they scored their goals was exactly the way they normally score them. I think we could’ve been a little bit more alert.”
Several times during the games, the Bruins appeared to be fighting the puck in their own end, especially Andrew Ference. He had a couple of turnovers and the normally sure-handed Dennis Seidenberg had another. Tuukka Rask picked up Ference and Seidenberg on all of them but couldn’t stop the Canadiens in the third.
“I didn’t feel like we were moving the pucks as well as we can,” Julien said. “Sure, they forecheck well, but for some reason passes weren’t as crisp coming out of our own end on a lot of occasions and it kind of got us in trouble a little bit. When we got the puck out and went and did the same thing in their end, we had our chances too. They were giving us those opportunities as well. I just felt that defensively when there were some breakdowns we weren’t really there to cover their mistakes and pucks ended up in our net.”
“That’s just it,” Julien said. “By far, they were our best line tonight. And that’s the unfortunate thing; we didn’t have enough of those other lines going for us. You can’t win big games like that relying on just that one line. We need more out of the other lines and tonight wasn’t a night where we got that. It’s a credit to them, I think Patrice had a great night. Obviously, Marshy with three assists, and Tyler I thought was skating well and competing well. That was a good line for us. Another line or two like that, with that same work ethic, we would’ve been fine.”
|Claude Julien calls out P.K. Subban, Canadiens for ‘embarrassing’ the game with embellishing||03.03.13 at 11:09 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien went off on the Canadiens following Montreal’s 4-3 win over the B’s Sunday night, calling the Canadiens out for embellishing to get penalties.
Julien felt that the B’s were at a disadvantage because Alexei Emelin‘s second-period cross-check on Tyler Seguin wasn’t called, though Zdeno Chara got an instigator penalty and a 10-minute misconduct for challenging and fighting Emelin after the play.
“The frustrating part is that you end up with 17 minutes in the penalty box when you should have been on the power play. It’s as simple as that,” Julien said. “It’s frustrating because tonight, as everybody saw, there was a lot of embellishment and this is embarrassing for our game, embellishing. Right now, they’ve got over 100 power plays so far and it’s pretty obvious why. We’re trying to clean that out of our game and it’s got to be done soon.
“It’s not about tonight. It’s about the game and the embellishment embarrasses our game, and we need to be better at that because it was pretty obvious when P.K. [Subban] gets hit, he throws himself into the glass and holds his head. You know what? If we start calling those penalties for embellishment, maybe teams will stop doing it, but until we take charge of that, it’s going to be an issue.”
Julien said that the Bruins shouldn’t have to feel the need to play less physical against the Habs. He wants the games to be called better, specifically with Habs players getting their comeuppance for diving.
“We can’t change our style. We’ve got to play the way we play,” he said. “If it’s clean, then it should be deemed clean, but it’s hard on referees because when people embellish, it makes them look bad. Well, we’ve just got to make sure we get the right people when it comes to that. When you call the embellishment, maybe they’ll stop embarrassing referees.”
|Shawn Thornton mum on healthy scratch||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.”
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