|Claude Julien hopeful Johnny Boychuk (knee) will play in Game 1||04.12.12 at 1:17 pm ET|
Based on this week, it would appear that Boychuk should be ready to return after missing the last two games of the regular season with a sprained knee. He participated in Thursday’s morning skate, marking the fourth straight day he’s been on the ice with the team. In practices and line drills, Boychuk has played on the second pairing with Andrew Ference.
Julien would not reveal the healthy scratch among forwards, but it should be either Jordan Caron or Daniel Paille, as the two have shared the left wing on the fourth line this week in practice.
Here are the Bruins’ lines:
Milan Lucic ‘ David Krejci ‘ Rich Peverley
Brad Marchand ‘ Patrice Bergeron ‘ Tyler Seguin
Benoit Pouliot ‘ Chris Kelly ‘ Brian Rolston
Daniel Paille/Jordan Caron ‘ Gregory Campbell ‘ Shawn Thornton
|Adam McQuaid to miss Game 1 vs. Capitals with upper-body injury||04.11.12 at 12:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins finally gave a little more news on Adam McQuaid.
McQuaid missed practice for the third straight day Wednesday at Ristuccia Arena. After the skate, B’s coach Claude Julien announced that McQuaid, who is dealing with an upper-body injury, will not be in the lineup for Game 1 against the Capitals Thursday.
|Looking to avoid another postseason power outage, Bruins work on man advantage||04.10.12 at 5:23 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — What is the key to Claude Julien‘s power play finding success this postseason?
“Not waiting till the finals, that would be one key,” Julien said Tuesday.
Julien was, of course, referring to last season’s power-play struggles. The 2010-11 Bruins were many things, including the team that got to the Stanley Cup finals without a functioning power play.
They didn’t score a single power-play goal in the first round (0-for-21 over seven games), and the B’s went 5-for-61 on the man advantage in the playoffs before waking up with a 5-for-27 showing against the Canucks.
This season, the Bruins finished the regular 15th in the league on the man advantage, converting 17.1 percent of the time. However, the man advantage crawled to the finish line, going converting on just two of 21 power plays in the last 10 regular-season games.
On Tuesday, the Bruins worked on their power play, with the first unit consisting of Zdeno Chara, Joe Corvo, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Brian Rolston, while the second unit featured Dennis Seidenberg, Rich Peverley, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin.
“This is a little bit of I guess touchy subject for everybody for quite a while now,” Julien said. “I think we finished 15th so we finished in the middle of the pack this year, but again, when you look at our team and you say well we’ve got one guy with 29, 27 goals our scoring is spread we don’t have those [Steven] Stamkoses. We don’t have those kind of guys.”
Regardless of where the Bruins’ man advantage finished in the regular season, the B’s know that it’s all about the playoffs now. Just as the Canucks, who finished the 2010-11 regular season with the best power play in the league (24.3 percent) but went 2-for-33 in the Stanley Cup finals against the Bruins.
“Back in the finals, we played a team that had the number one power play but then they ran into a gritty group of penalty killers and at the end of the day we were able to win that match up,” Julien said. “It goes hand and hand, and we keep working on it everyday because we know that’s an area becomes a challenge for us.”
The Bruins could exceed last season’s first-round power-play performance with a tally on the man advantage Thursday.
WILMINGTON — Moments after captain Zdeno Chara was pointing with his stick and barking at Tyler Seguin Tuesday morning on a power play drill, coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Doug Jarvis came over and had a heart-to-heart with the Bruins’ leading goal scorer this season.
They were simply reminding him to play hard on the power play and play with a “heavy stick” – Julien’s way of saying scoring on the power play and scoring in general, requires more will power in the playoffs than in the regular season.
“Playoffs, a lot of times, it’s all about little details and that’s why we’re going over video,” Seguin said Tuesday. “Even on the ice, obviously, coaches see stuff that they want you to improve on or little details they want you to fix and sometimes, as a player, you see something different. You just compare notes without crossing the line and just get prepared.”
Julien knows that Seguin – with his 29 goals – will be a marked man by Dale Hunter‘s Washington Capitals much more than he was at the start of the Stanley Cup championship run 12 months ago. Julien and Chara just want Seguin to be ready for that hunt beginning Thursday night in Game 1 at the Garden.
“I think he knows everybody on his team has his back, and all he has to do is go out there and compete and be ready to face that kind of challenge,” Julien said. “If we want him to be a better player, he has to be able to face those kind of challenges and face them with a positive result. He has to be able to work his way through and we expect him to be able to do that.”
For his part, Seguin downplayed being a focal point of Washington’s defensive game plan.
“I don’t really know about that. If you look at our team, there wasn’t exactly much gap between [players],” Seguin said. “We’re pretty close. We had [six] 20-goal scorers. That’s what makes our team pretty dangerous.”
“I don’t think he’s been bad at that this year whenever things were a little tough,” Julien added. “We’ve always kept a close eye on him. He’s a young prospect that we want to make sure that he continues to go in the right direction so we’ve taken time to bring him in and talk to him. Players have done the same thing. When it comes to a situation where you haven’t scored in a while or you’re a little frustrated, you go back to basics, and you stop looking at the big picture and just take a step back and keep your game maybe a little simpler but more efficient, and eventually, things come back.
“We’ve done a good job with him as far as the whole coaching staff, the players, to help him through those things. And he likes his teammates, he likes our coaching staff, he has a lot of trust in all of us where he’s not afraid to come up and say, ‘Listen, this is what’s happening here.’ Or whenever we suggest something, it’s nice to see a guy with that much talent and skill be so open to suggestions and help, as well.”
|Secretive Claude Julien says Adam McQuaid’s status is ‘up in the air’||04.09.12 at 1:03 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Adam McQuaid did not participate in Monday’s practice at Ristuccia Arena, the only notable absence for the B’s as they prepare for the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.
McQuaid went into the end boards head-first in the Bruins’ March 29 game against the Capitals, with the Bruins defenseman cutting his eye, which led to swelling. He tried to return last Thursday against the Senators while wearing a visor, but left the game in the second period.
The plot thickened a bit regarding his actual injury after Monday’s practice, as Claude Julien would not term McQuaid’s injury an eye injury, but an “upper-body injury.” Asked whether the team was treating the injury as a concussion, Julien declined response.
“Peter [Chiarelli] addressed [McQuaid's status] yesterday, and every day we keep going back to the same guys,” Julien said. “It’s day-to-day. It’s playoff time, and it’s day-to-day, so that’s all I’m going to say about it.”
Both Johnny Boychuk and Tuukka Rask returned to practice Monday. Rask faced shots, while Boychuk took regular turns in line rushes and took physical contact. Julien feels the two players are headed in the right direction, but noted it’s a tougher call with McQuaid.
“His situation is up in the air,” Julien said. “It could be resolved soon or later. Right now, as I told you guys the other day, we’re use being cautious. He’s day-to-day, and cautious is the approach we’ve taken.”
|Claude Julien sounds quietly confident as his Bruins begin their quest for a repeat||04.08.12 at 9:24 am ET|
Claude Julien didn’t hide the fact that after Saturday’s press conference following a 4-3 shootout win over the Sabres in the regular season finale that he was headed to watch more hockey. He knew the Bruins were either going to be playing the Senators or the Capitals starting Thursday at TD Garden.
But first, he did allow time to look back on what was the toughest – albeit rewarding – grind of his coaching career, including falling very temporarily to the No. 7 seed in the East before rebounding to win four of their last five and salt away the division and the No. 2 spot.
“I don’t think we liked seeing ourselves in the seventh spot, but the one thing that really helped us through it is, I think we started sensing the playoffs were getting close, and we knew that we had to play better to be a good playoff team,” Julien said. “As I said numerous times, I think it was more of a mental struggle this year than anything else. Our guys are in — these guys are well-conditioned athletes, so physically, it’s never an issue, but the mental part. If your mind tells you you’re tired, you’re going to look tired. If your mind tells you you’re not, you’re going to perform with better energy, and I think right now it’s a big mental obstacle that we had to overcome this year because our guys, at one point, we looked tired because, in our minds, we felt tired, and I think once the excitement of the playoffs started getting closer, we started seeing the playoffs around the corner, all of a sudden, we started getting excited again.
“And you say, ‘Oh, look, they don’t look like they’re tired. They look like they’ve got a lot of energy.’ Well, I gave them days off, but those days off alone wouldn’t have been enough, so I think the part right now is our psyche, and if we’re excited to go into the playoffs, then we’re going to be just as good as any other team.”
Julien said he and his staff would pretty much begin their preparations immediately for their first-round opponent (the Washington Capitals) was determined.
“I’ll do it [Sunday],” Julien said after the win over the Sabres. “I mean, we’re off [Sunday] — that’s the players, not the coaching staff. The minute we find out our opponents, we start doing the video work and cutting, which we’ve already done some of it, but depending on some changes along the way. Obviously there’s two teams. It’s either Ottawa or Wash [Washington], so we’ve got a lot of that work done, and when it’s solidified, then we’re going to start, we’re going to finish it up, and by Monday, we should be on top of things.”
Asked about his team’s chances of repeating now that they’re back to the playoffs, Julien said his team is looking ahead to the first round, no further.
“That’s still a long ways away,” he said. “It’s one of those things where, they finished the season. Our number one goal is the same it’s been every year, and that’s to make the playoffs. And, I always keep saying the same thing over and over, that making the playoffs is a tough thing to do on a consistent basis. We’ve seen teams that have won the Cup and failed to make the playoffs the next year, we’ve seen teams win the Cup and just barely make it in.
“For us to win our division and get another season of over 100 points, I think it’s a credit to those guys in there because it was a tough grind. We had ups and downs, but now we start that new season that everybody gets excited about, and we’ve got as good a chance as anybody else to win, and even though it’s hard to, as they say, repeat nowadays, and it hasn’t been done in a long time, we’re certainly going to challenge that.”
|Claude Julien: Nathan Horton ‘not close’ to returning, but Tuukka Rask is progressing||04.04.12 at 1:34 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The Bruins saw both Nathan Horton and Tuukka Rask take the ice prior to Wednesday’s practice. For Rask, it means things are continuing to progress. For Horton, it’s a small step in the right direction.
Rask has been skating since Monday, as he aims to make a return from his abdomen strain/groin strain by the playoffs. The Bruins have Anton Khudobin up with the team now, and it’s likely that he’ll start Thursday’s game against the Senators. That should give Khudobin a little more NHL experience (he’s played six games for the Wild) before the playoffs start if he’s needed as Tim Thomas‘ backup, but in a perfect world the Bruins would have Rask back.
“Tuukka’s been skating for a few days, and he’s coming around,” coach Claude Julien said after Wednesday’s practice. “We hope to have him with us soon, at least in practice.
“With Nathan, it’s just going out there — nothing more than just skating and trying to get a feel of how things are. Nothing more than that. He’s not close to joining us as we speak. Still keeping our fingers crossed that it’s going in the right direction.”
Horton has not played since Jan. 22, when his second concussion in less than seven months forced him out of the lineup. His attempt at a comeback has been shaky this season, as he suffered a setback after trying to skate in February.
The Bruins don’t know whether they’ll get Horton back at any point in the playoffs, as the postseason can last up to two months. He’s a longshot to return soon, but Julien says Horton is in good spirits.
“He’s in a good spot emotionally,” Julien said of Horton. “I haven’t talked [to him] about anything related to hockey and him coming back. The last thing he needs is for his coach to start asking those kind of questions. That’s not my job and it’s certainly not something that would be a positive thing to do.
“I leave him be. Everything I do with him is small talk — how are you doing today — and he’s looking good color-wise. He seems to have good color, and we see he’s happy. Those kind of things are encouraging.”
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