|Ryan Spooner benching a reminder Bruins’ can’t embrace potential as much as they’ve said||11.18.15 at 2:52 pm ET|
The Bruins have long said that this season is about potential. Yet it seems that they feel their best chance of realistically winning games is to bank on more sure things than embracing that potential. They’re not necessarily wrong in thinking that; they just might need to cool it on that P-word for a while.
When Claude Julien benched Ryan Spooner in the third period of Tuesday’s loss to the Sharks, the worst part of it was that the change didn’t allow the Bruins to complete their comeback. The second-worst part of it is that it loaned more evidence to the historically incorrect Claude Hates The Kids argument.
If the Bruins had their act together on the back end and could kill penalties, do you really think Julien would have benched Spooner for his bad second period Tuesday? Of course not. Yet this season has seen him limit players like Spooner and David Pastrnak when they’ve struggled because the Bruins, for all the gushy stuff they’ve said about their young players, can’t actually give them the keys because the Bruins aren’t good enough to absorb their mistakes.
Asked after the game why he gave Spooner no even-strength time in the final period, Julien snapped back at the reporter, asking if he had noticed that Joonas Kemppainen had earned the ice time inherited by Spooner’s benching. On Wednesday, Julien was more willing to elaborate on his decision to limit Spooner’s third-period shifts to just the power play and the final minute with an extra attacker.
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|Claude Julien named assistant coach of Team Canada for World Cup of Hockey||11.05.15 at 2:03 pm ET|
Claude Julien will be an assistant coach for Team Canada at 2016 World Cup of Hockey, Team Canada announced Thursday.
Julien will be joined by Barry Trotz, Joel Quenneville, and Bill Peters as assistants to head coach Mike Babcock. The announcement comes as no surprise, as Julien was one of Babcock’s assistants on Canada’s Gold Medal-winning Olympic team in the 2014 Winter Olympics. Julien was also an assistant coach of Team Canada at the 2000 IIHF World Junior Championships.
The World Cup of Hockey will take place in September of 2016, with eight teams competing in Toronto. In addition to six teams representing individual countries (United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic), there will be a Team Europe for European countries not represented, as well as a Team North America for North American players ages 23 and younger. Former Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli is the general manager of Team North America.
|Bruins’ first home win ‘a pride thing’||10.27.15 at 11:57 pm ET|
If they’d lost on Tuesday, the Bruins would have been in Original Six territory.
As in the 1951-52 Original Six Bruins, the last version of the B’s to start a season winless on home ice for more than four games; that season Milt Schmidt’s boys went 0-5-4 out of the gate en route to a fourth-place finish.
Instead of Original Six, the 2015-16 Bruins went Additional Six on Tuesday night with a 6-0 shutout of the Coyotes to snap their 0-3-1 homely open to the year.
“It was nice to finally get a home win and get that out of the way,” Bruins winger Loui Eriksson said with a satisfied sigh.
Instead of the Bronx cheers that were heard sprinkled in at TD Garden during losses to Winnipeg, Montreal, Tampa Bay and Philadelphia, Tuesday night’s win ended with a standing ovation of approval raining down from the local faithful who stayed to the final horn.
“We felt like we kind of owed them a little bit. We owed them the win,” David Krejci said on a night when he added two more goals to his growing personal collection of seven markers on the year. “Big for the standings and our fans as well. Obviously, you like to get the first one at home. We were close the last couple times, but it was big to get the first one finally. The way we played today, we got the fans on our side.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien didn’t want to go so far as saying the poor home start was weighing on his team, but he certainly acknowledged that home success is important. After all, just two years ago Boston’s 31-7-3 mark on home ice buoyed the team to a 117-point season and the top seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
“I think the fact that we were playing better the last four games [overall] — we had the one overtime loss — I think our guys felt if they kept playing the way they could it was just a matter of time,” Julien said. “I think it’s more about a pride thing. Our home building has to be something that doesn’t bode well for teams coming in here. And right now we’ve made too many teams feel comfortable. That’s what we’re trying to change.”
In discussing his new-look lines for Tuesday night’s game, Claude Julien stated the obvious on Tuesday: He’s probably going to be tinkering with his lines a lot this season.
Though the Bruins enter Tuesday’s action third in the NHL with 3.9 goals per game, they’ve only kept the same forward lines in consecutive games one. Injuries aside, Boston’s new group of wings and the ongoing search for an ideal fit for Ryan Spooner has made Julien more active than he was in Boston’s recent heyday, when filling out his lineup was a set-it-and-forget-it affair.
“In order to coach, you’ve got to make the right moves at the right time,” Julien said Tuesday. “For me, [Tuesday’s lineup] is a start. We’ll see how that goes, and if it doesn’t go I’ve got to make some adjustments here. That could be happening all year round. I know people are used to seeing me with certain lines and sticking with them, but I think that stage of that consistency is gone right now. It’s not there yet, or it’s gone. Like any coach, you adapt to what you have, and that’s what I’m doing right now.”
By the looks of morning skate, both the third and fourth lines will be different from last game. Matt Beleskey, returning from injury, will skate with Spooner’s line for the first time after skating with David Krejci‘s line in the first five games. Loui Eriksson will remain with Krejci, while Boston’s fourth line looks to be Joonas Kemppainen between Chris Kelly and Tyler Randell, a line that has not been iced this season.
Krejci has had David Pastrnak on his right wing for all seven games this season, though there’s no guarantee that they’ll stick together. Pastrnak has had more growing pains this season than he did as a rookie, so Julien could eventually tinker with Krejci’s trio again.
The veteran center, who is tied for the NHL with 12 points (he’s played seven games; the other three players with 12 points have played at least eight), had a good four year stretch in which his linemates rarely changed and barely ever changed in-season. Milan Lucic was his left wing and Nathan Horton was his right wing (Rich Peverley would sub in when Horton was concussed), until Horton departed in free agency and Jarome Iginla replaced him.
Last season, in addition to being in and out of the lineup, Krejci had numerous different right wings and expressed unhappiness that he didn’t have Eriksson as his full-time right wing. He said Tuesday that playing with different linemates has been a learning experience.
“It’s always nice to play with the same guys, that’s for sure, but what I’ve learned from [these] last couple years when I’ve had different linemates is don’t worry about who’s on your line,” Krejci said. “The chemistry will come, but just try to be the best you will be. Then your wings will try to be the best they can be and the chemistry will develop. Sometimes it will develops early, sometimes later, but don’t try to change your game for the guy next to you. Just keep playing your game.”
As for his left wing of the last two games, Eriksson has been bounced around Boston’s lineup enough over the years — with Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, without Bergeron and Marchand, with Carl Soderberg, with Krejci, etc. — that he’s used to different linemates. Arguably Boston’s best player this season, it would be hard for Eriksson to complain about his current spot.
“I’m kind of used to it,” Eriksson said. “I played with different lines in Dallas, too. … It’s been the same thing here in Boston. It’s always a challenge, but when you get used to it and find some chemistry with some guys, it’s always easier.”
|Bruins blown leads a troubling trend||10.22.15 at 8:49 am ET|
The so-called most dangerous lead in hockey, the two-goal advantage, used to be downright safe for the Bruins to the tune of a 158-9-7 record over the past four seasons. But, with three of their first six games this season featuring blown two-goal leads, the B’s are quickly rekindling fear about the old hockey adage.
Wednesday night at TD Garden, the Bruins enjoyed a 4-2 lead heading to the third period, but watched their potential two-point reward slice in half as the Flyers came back for a 5-4 victory in overtime.
A 2-0 second period lead over Tampa Bay on October 12 at the Garden also ended in defeat for Boston this year, and a lost 3-1 third period lead on October 17 in Arizona was restored to a win thanks only to the Bruins white-hot power play. There was no such salvation on Wednesday.
“We have to play with more composure when we score a goal or get scored on,” said team captain Zdeno Chara. “[We have] some mental breaks like that. Things that are easy to be corrected. Just have to work harder and take pride in winning the battles.”
Lost puck battles were the theme of head coach Claude Julien‘s critique of the Flyers’ loss.
“We played a light game,” Julien said. “We had too many guys with light sticks, too many guys playing a light game. It’s unacceptable. What happened tonight we probably deserved. [Philadelphia] was the hungrier team. We didn’t respond well. A lot of guys would just go into battle, take a swing at the puck, and curl the other way. Again, that’s not the way we play and it’s not the way we’re going to accept players to play on our team.”
On the bright side for the Bruins, goal scoring has been plentiful to put some leads in place. Boston has netted 18 goals over their last four games. But the 2-1-1 record that’s resulted over that span has left a feeling of missed opportunities.
“When you score four goals you should have more than enough to win the game,” said Patrice Bergeron, who added two more points against Philadelphia to give him seven (four goals, three assists) through six games played. “Too many slow reactions defensively and lack of communication. Poor decisions. It ends up hurting us big time.”
Bergeron’s colleague Chris Kelly, whose shorthanded tally gave Boston a 3-2 edge on the Flyers in the second period, agreed.
“We mismanaged the puck, especially in the third [period],” Kelly said. “A team that has capable scorers like [Philadelphia has], it didn’t take much, a couple turnovers and misplays and they tied it up pretty quickly. It’s a combination of things. It’s about managing the puck, [not] putting the other guys in a tough spot changing, and maybe not changing at the right times. Little things. It’s the combinations of a lot of little things that lead to a goal. That was the case, especially their fourth goal, the [Wayne] Simmonds goal.”
“The effort is there,” Kelly continued. “It’s just focus needs to be sharper throughout the course of 60 minutes. There’s times in all four home games where we’ve played extremely well and done a lot of good things, just to maintain that composure for 60 minutes seems to be an issue right now.”
|Claude Julien on draft pick compensation: ‘Once you’re fired, you’re fired’||10.21.15 at 12:10 pm ET|
Tortorella, who was fired after the first year of a five-year contract with the Canucks at the end of the 2013-14 season, had two-plus more years on his contract with Vancouver before being hired by the Blue Jackets. With Columbus hiring him during his contract, however, the Canucks are within their rights to seek a second-round pick as compensation for the coach, as the Bruins are doing with Peter Chiarelli and the Oilers.
That the Canucks are now off the hook for his contract should be enough, as they chose to can him. The Blue Jackets could (and should) have viewed the second-round pick compensation as a deterrent for hiring Tortorella.
Asked about the situation Wednesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien was vocal about teams seeking draft picks for people they fired. Should he be fired, Julien could find his job search more difficult if the Bruins chose to seek draft pick compensation. The fact that the Bruins are doing so with Chiarelli (they’ll get a second-rounder from the Oilers in one of the coming years) shows that they might not be inclined to waive their right to a pick if they eventually fire their coach.
“The league is going to look into that, but as a coach, I find it a shame that I wouldn’t be able to get a job somewhere because the compensation was too high, yet they thought enough of me that they would be willing to hire me, but they wouldn’t be willing to give a first, second or third-round pick,” Julien said. “To me, once you’re fired, you’re fired.
“If it’s a different situation and you’re not fired, you step down, you say, ‘I don’t want to be here anymore,’ or whatever, well [they] still own your rights until the end of the contract. I agree with that, because they still wanted you. You’re the one that wanted to step down. Once you’re fired, you shouldn’t be held back from working anywhere because of compensation. Whether it’s called a selfish thing on our parts, the thing that we want to do, we want to get back and work again. At the same time, it’s definitely a benefit for the team that fired you because they don’t have to keep paying you for doing nothing. This is something I know the league is going to look into, and we’ll see what happens there.”
Julien said that he understands draft pick compensation for coaches who are under contract and are sought after by other teams.
“I think it’s important to understand that there’s teams that develop coaches,” Julien said. “[I’ll] use the example of Detroit. How many coaches have they lost? Todd McLellan, being an assistant coach and them giving him the opportunity to be a head coach [in San Jose]. Well, he had an opportunity to grow in [the Red Wings] organization, so all of a sudden they say, ‘Well, we should get some sort of compensation.’ He wasn’t fired. He was promoted, so I understand the logistics of where that argument comes from. I’m not naive when it comes to that.
“Having said that, I think there’s two sides to it, but as coaches, I think our biggest thing is being fired — not promoted — being fired, we should be able to get another job without being held back because of compensation.”
|Claude Julien ‘disappointed’ by no-goal ruling, but says he won’t hesitate to use challenge in future||10.10.15 at 11:24 pm ET|
Goalie interference? Uh, okay… pic.twitter.com/KpkX8qykna
‘ Pete Blackburn (@PeteBlackburn) October 11, 2015
The play and review seemed pretty straightforward. The refs waved off a Loui Eriksson goal because Patrice Bergeron made contact with Carey Price. However, Bergeron was clearly pushed into Price by Alexei Emelin, meaning the goal should have been allowed.
It was understandable that the refs missed it in real time; hockey is a fast game and sometimes you just don’t catch that push. But once Julien decided to use his challenge, it seemed like a pretty safe bet that the no-goal call would be overturned.
Instead, the refs upheld the call on the ice. Why they upheld it remains a mystery, with the league’s official statement saying simply that the review “confirmed that Boston’s Patrice Bergeron made incidental contact with Montreal goaltender Carey Price before the puck crossed the goal line, preventing Price from doing his job in the crease.” No mention of Emelin’s shove. No mention of the fact that Bergeron actually made an effort to stay out of the crease while getting pushed.
Julien said he was “disappointed” with the call and didn’t understand why it wasn’t a goal.
“I really felt, and I looked at it in between periods, and I said how can that not be a goal when the guy has both feet outside the blue paint and is doing everything he can to stay out of his way and is really trying to fight off the guy trying to push him in,” Julien said. “So, I thought that warranted obviously a goal, but for some reason they saw it some other way.”
Goalie interference plays are one of two things coaches can challenge (with goals scored on a potential offsides being the other), and Julien said it’s his understanding that whether or not a player was pushed into the goalie is part of what can be reviewed, which would rule out the possibility that the refs could only look at Bergeron’s contact with Price and not how he got there.
Bergeron couldn’t make sense of the ruling either, as he also thought that being pushed into Price should’ve negated the interference.
“That was my understanding of the rule,” Bergeron said. “They thought otherwise and we can’t really control that, I guess. … It happens fast, so I guess I understood that maybe he thought that I pushed into the goalie. But then on the replay, I thought it was clear that I got pushed into him. My understanding was that if I get pushed into the goalie and I’m working hard to get out of there, it’s fine.”
Julien said that despite the fact that this challenge didn’t go the way he expected, he wouldn’t hesitate to challenge a similar situation in the future.
“That’s a thing you’ve got to be careful of — you can’t [be discouraged],” Julien said. “In our minds, the people that looked at it in the first place all felt it should have been a goal, and I went back to my office in between periods and I felt it should have been a goal. But if you’re afraid to call those then you may miss an opportunity to either get a goal called for you or the other way around, a goal rescinded from what you think was interference.”
The disallowed goal certainly isn’t the reason the Bruins lost Saturday. More turnovers, more defensive mistakes and an inability to get the puck out of their own zone had a lot more to do with Saturday night’s 4-2 loss than that one call. But there’s no denying that it was a turning point of sorts, especially since the Canadiens scored just over a minute later to make it 3-0.