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Why December 23 is a meaningful day for the Bruins 12.23.14 at 1:02 pm ET
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The Bruins were in a similar position in 2010 to where they are now. (Elsa/Getty Images)

The Bruins were in a similar position in 2010 to where they are now. (Elsa/Getty Images)

It’€™s been a while since the Bruins approached the Christmas break as a fringe playoff team. The last time it happened, however, they won the Stanley Cup.

Dec. 23, 2010 was a critical day in that ultimately successful season. The Bruins, coming off a postseason collapse against the Flyers the previous spring, were struggling.

Offseason acquisition Nathan Horton, who was in the midst of what would be a nine-game slump with no goals and one assist, was looking like a very talented non-factor who appeared to be bringing Milan Lucic down with him.

The team was going through the motions and it was taking them nowhere. It led to the Bruins losing four of five games, punctuated by a troubling no-show in a 3-0 shutout loss to the Ducks on Garden ice. Claude Julien, who historically is a set-it-and-forget-it guy with his lines, pulled Horton off the top line and replaced him with Blake Wheeler in that game.

After that 3-0 loss, the eighth-place Bruins had two days off before they would host the Thrashers in their final game before the holiday break. Those two days were the height of “Fire Claude Mania.”

In his weekly interview with CBS radio, President Cam Neely was asked if they were going to fire the coach. Neely said the Bruins weren’€™t, but did say, “€œI can understand why the fans are frustrated and may be calling for a coaching change.”€

Dennis Seidenberg doesn’€™t remember too many specifics about the mood of the team at that point, only saying Tuesday that “€œit was really dead.”

Then, on Dec. 23, the Bruins came out and absolutely ran over the Thrashers. Shawn Thornton fought Eric Boulton off the faceoff and spent the next five minutes in the penalty box devising a plan to score two goals in the game. Patrice Bergeron had a shorty. Michael Ryder had a power play goal. Lucic sucker-punched Freddy Meyer and somehow didn’€™t get suspended.

Ference fought. Horton fought. Marc freaking Savard fought. The game was an explosion of emotions and every bit the coming out party that the team had forgotten to have earlier in the season.

“I think that was definitely a defining game for us,” Brad Marchand said Tuesday. “We turned it on and really didn’€™t look back.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton,
Dougie Hamilton on Claude Julien: ‘He gives us a game plan and we don’t follow it’ 12.21.14 at 12:49 pm ET
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Dougie Hamilton

Dougie Hamilton

None of the Bruins are happy about losing, and it’€™s obvious.

On Saturday morning, Claude Julien joined that club, holding his most honest press conference of the season as he dug into the Bruins’€™ struggles.

After the press conference –€” in which he pointed to Dennis Seidenberg’€™s struggles and lamented the inconsistency of many of his forwards –€” Dougie Hamilton admitted that “€œeveryone’€™s frustrated,” and that he can see why his coach would be.

“I think one of the biggest things is that he gives us a game plan and we don’€™t follow it,” Hamilton told WEEI.com. “There’€™s a lot of times where he’€™ll say, like, ‘€˜There’€™s nothing more to say.’€™ He’€™s telling us exactly what we need to do to win and we’€™re not following it. I don’€™t know. Hopefully we can win and not have to worry about all this stuff.”€

None of this is good for the Bruins, obviously. The B’s have had several injuries this season — most notably to Zdeno Chara and David Krejci, both of whom are currently back in the lineup — but frustration from a winning coach coupled with a group not following directions might be an even bigger problem with the season just eight games away from the midway point.

Entering Sunday’s game, the 16-14-3 Bruins sit 10th in the Eastern Conference.

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

Read More: Claude Julien, Dougie Hamilton,
Frustrated Claude Julien points to Dennis Seidenberg’s struggles, Bruins’ offensive inconsistency at 12:28 pm ET
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A frustrated Claude Julien may be a more honest Claude Julien.

After Sunday’€™s morning skate, the Bruins coach held his most telling press conference of the year as he discussed some of the issues that have the Bruins on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture ienooking in.

Julien, who later clarified that he does not intend to throw players under the bus, was most critical of Dennis Seidenberg, whom he said has not been as effective as in years past as he returns from a torn ACL suffered last season. He also lamented the inconsistency of Patrice Bergeron‘€™s line and noted Milan Lucic‘€™s struggles when he was without David Krejci.

Here are some highlights of the press conference:

On Seidenberg (the question was about why Matt Bartkowski and Seidenberg have struggled when paired together):

When we look at Seids, he’€™s come off a major injury. I don’€™t think anybody here thinks Seids is playing at his full potential right now. No matter where he’€™s been, he’€™s had his share of struggles. I don’€™t think it has anything to do with right or left. You can look at Seids; with whomever he’€™s played, they’€™ve had their fair share of struggles. He’€™s got to find his game. Once he finds his game, he’€™ll be a lot better.

When you look at the game and you see what’€™s going on and you look at it again, sometimes you realize that maybe you’€™re pointing the finger at the wrong person. We have to look at it objectively; that’€™s our job.

And that job is not for me to come out and publicly throw my players under the bus, but I see certain things and that’€™s what I’€™m trying to tell you guys. I’€™m not here to explain my every move, but we see certain things that we have to make decisions on.

Again, I’€™m not one of those guys that’€™s going to start carving my players because if I have something to say to them, it will be behind closed doors.

On the team’€™s lack of scoring:

Do you guys watch the games? K. So I’€™m going to say Bergeron’€™s line last game did not have a good game. They didn’€™t have many scoring chances. They weren’€™t that good. They were good the game before. There’€™s some games they play well and they score some games, and the problem with our team has been inconsistency in our games.

If you guys watch the games, you’€™ll see those kind of things that certain lines, even though you say, ‘€˜Well Bergeron and Smith and Marchand are great players,’€™ that doesn’€™t mean their line is really firing on all cylinders every game. Once we get all our lines more consistent in that area, we won’€™t be just saying that the goal-scoring’€™s coming from the Soderberg line. So we need a little bit more, and at the same time, Krejci’€™s just gotten back. We hope that sooner than later, we’€™re going to get a little more depth in our scoring.

On Bergeron’€™s line:

I said one game they’€™re good, the next they’€™re not as good. Does that mean you break them up because they’€™re not good one game and the next game they’€™re good? Again, who do you put where? It’€™s easy to skew. We’€™ve seen Lucic play well with Krejci. Lucic struggles a little bit more with others. Again, when I say second-guessing, [I mean] you guys can wrack your brain all you want; that’€™s what I do from midnight to six in the morning. I wrack my brain trying to figure out what to do the next day.

On why he generally hasn’€™t tried anybody but Seth Griffith as David Krejci‘€™s right wing this season:

Yeah, because Krech has hardly ever played. When we don’t win, we get second-guessed. I understand that. But right now, the Soderberg line is the only one that’s scoring for us. So do you guys want me to break that up and we get no more scoring? So you pick your poison. As much as we’d like to do that and we want to do that, and we did the last game a few times, it’s hard to really see when it’s only in spurts. But at the same time, I’m trying to win a hockey game here, so that’s the bottom line.

Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg,
Claude Julien suggests Jonathan Toews shoulders some responsibility for his own injury 12.11.14 at 11:47 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien feels badly whenever a superstar goes down with an injury like Chicago’s Jonathan Toews did Thursday night at the hands of contact with Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.

But he also feels Toews and others should be taught better how to handle themselves when they are approaching the boards. In short, Julien suggested that Toews shoulders some responsibility for the violent collision with the boards that resulted in him missing the entire third period.

“I’ve been saying that for a long time, we need to educate our players to protect themselves better,” Julien said. “We keep turning our backs, we keep trying to curl away.”

Then Julien came to the defense of his defenseman, who picked up a two-minute boarding penalty.

“A player’s job is to finish his check and a player should know he’s going to be hit,” Julien added. “It’s not about tonight, it’s about the whole league. I’m one of those guys who has put a lot of pressure on people who look at those kind of things and say, ‘It’s OK to take away those hits from hits from behind when they’re warranted. But what about the other guy? Does he not have a responsibility?'”

Julien brought up another big hit just two nights ago in Minnesota for some added perspective. Midway through the second period of the Wild’s 5-4 victory over the New York Islanders, Minnesota’s Keith Ballard and the Islanders’ Matt Martin were involved in a scary incident along the boards.

As Ballard dumped the puck in from center ice, Martin hit him, but not before the Wild defenseman turned his body toward the boards. Ballard’€™s head ended up hitting the dasher, as well as the ice. Martin, unlike Seidenberg, was not given a penalty on the play, as it appeared Ballard turned his back to Martin at the last moment before Martin’s hit.

“I looked at the Ballard hit, or the hit on Ballard from Martin,” Julien said. “So, Martin didn’€™t get a penalty on that and I think Ballard saw him coming and he turned and the consequences aren’€™t what you want to see from a player being hit like him. Certainly don’€™t like seeing those kinds of things, but this is where it’€™s important to take care of ourselves.

“So, I view that five-on-three we’€™re going to close a gap quickly and Dennis is a strong individual. So, is he supposed to get weak because of that situation? Or he just plays to his strength. Again, I wasn’€™t happy. I looked at it, and it could be arguable, but from my end of it I think it’€™s what it is. Our guys need to finish their checks and sure, you’€™ve got to be careful, but I’€™m sure he knew that he was coming.”
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Read More: Claude Julien, Dennis Seidenberg, Joel Quenneville, Jonathan Toews
Claude Julien is tired of trying to ‘score 2 goals every night to get 1′ 11.25.14 at 10:31 am ET
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When you’re struggling to score as a team and half of your weapons are either sitting up on the ninth floor watching the game or playing elsewhere, it’s understandable to see why Bruins head coach Claude Julien is frustrated.

But, when you have the sense that you have to score twice for every goal that counts, that’s something altogether different. That’s what Julien felt after Monday’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Penguins, when goals in regulation by Patrice Bergeron and Carl Soderberg were disallowed.

If either goal counts, the Bruins skate away with a regulation win and two points.

“Again, you gotta score two goals every night to get one, it’€™s tough to win hockey games,” Julien lamented afterward. “We got some tough calls against us and our guys played hard right ‘€˜til the end. Unfortunately, we didn’€™t get that second point that I thought we deserved.”

In the first period, it appeared Bergeron tapped a puck out of midair and put it behind Marc-Andre Fleury to tie the game, at one. But, referee Kyle Rehman — closest to the play — called it a good goal but after review, he was overruled by the three other officials on the ice, who said the puck was above the crossbar when Bergeron tapped it into the goal.

“On that first goal, the closest referee calls it a goal,” said Julien. “And then it’€™s no goal because the three furthest ones think it’€™s a high stick, so I guess that’€™s what’€™s frustrating in my mind. I don’€™t know what the league looked at. When I looked at the replay myself it looked more inconclusive. Now, they may contradict me and say they had a better angle from where they were, but that’€™s how it looked to me.

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Pittsburgh Penguins,
Pierre McGuire on MFB: ‘Dumbfounded’ at Bruins’ loss to Maple Leafs 11.13.14 at 1:43 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB, following broadcasting the Bruins’ blowout loss to Toronto Wednesday night and to discuss the state of the team going into Thursday’s game against Montreal. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

McGuire was inside the benches during the Bruins’ 6-1 loss Wednesday night, and did not like what he saw from the Bruins team, which was unexpected as he thought they would have played well going in.

“I said this last night, and I meant it sincerely, I haven’t seen the Bruins get beat like that in a long time,” said McGuire. “I was dumbfounded by that because I was around their room, I talked to their coaches before the game. The players really had an intense situation that they were looking at, they were looking like they were up to the challenge.

“The coaches were really excited — they had won six of their previous seven, all seven games that they had played previously [Zdeno] Chara wasn’t there, and they were finding ways to get it done. Obviously [Patrice] Bergeron and [Dougie] Hamilton were really playing well. I had the feeling they were going to play a really good game last night, and I was really wrong. They did not play a good game last night.”

Tuukka Rask was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals and although he might not have played in the second half of the back-to-back, McGuire says he should after what took place Wednesday night, and Rask not playing the entire game.

“[Tuukka] has to get his team’s confidence in Montreal, so that the team knows that he can deliver there,” he said. “It is up to him, and if I were Claude [Julien], he’s playing tonight.”

“You have to get back on your horse and Tuukka is going to play guilty tonight,” he added. “I don’t know if he is going to be good enough to win or not, but he has to get in there and play guilty and say, ‘I wasn’t good enough last night.’ I think he’s that honest with himself and with his teammates, that I think he will play guilty tonight.”

Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.

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Read More: Claude Julien, Montreal Canadiens, Pierre McGuire, Tuukka Rask
Pierre McGuire on MFB: Bruins ‘really comfortable’ with Claude Julien 11.06.14 at 2:04 pm ET
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Pierre McGuire

Pierre McGuire

NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB prior to the Bruins’ Thursday night game against the Oilers, as well to discuss Claude Julien‘s contract extension. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.

Julien inked a three-year contract extension over the weekend. McGuire said he has noticed Julien has become more comfortable working within the organization and with his coaching staff.

“I think they are really comfortable because there is a great relationship between the general manager, Peter Chiarelli and the coach, Claude Julien,” said McGuire. “I think they’€™ve become more and more comfortable over time and the one thing I think the Bruins like more than anything else is the stability of their franchise. It’€™s a very stable franchise and both guys have shown they can handle it.

“One of the things I think Claude is really learning to do over time is delicate authority. [Assistant coach Doug Houda] is getting a lot more responsibility, especially when it comes to changing the defense. Hiring a former head coach in the NHL in Joe Sacco, I think that helps you a lot. Doug Jarvis is one more cherished assistant coaches in the league. I think he’€™s learned to delegate authority really well. Quite frankly, I think it works really well in Boston. I enjoy being around their team and part of that reason is because of their coaching staff.”

The Bruins have enjoyed some success of late, winning three in a row and four-of-five. The wins have come against some of the weaker teams in the league — including the Panthers and Sabres — but McGuire notes the team can only play who comes up on their schedule.

“You’€™re always looking for your team to be a little bit better all the time, but I think like some college teams, you can’€™t pick your schedule, you have to play the way it comes down,” McGuire said. “They play Edmonton tonight, then they have a nice weekend off before they have to play next week against New Jersey and Toronto. They have a nice opportunity to give themselves a reward by beating Edmonton, a team not one of the upper-enchalant teams in the league.”

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Read More: Claude Julien, David Pastrnak, Pierre McGuire,
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