|Claude Julien finally likes what he sees in his ‘focused, energized’ Bruins||01.09.15 at 9:51 am ET|
A journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.
That’s what he saw Thursday night in a 3-0 win over the hapless Devils at TD Garden.
“I think we seemed like a real focused and energized team tonight,” said Julien, who watched as his team outshot New Jersey by a stunning 43-14 margin. “I think the biggest thing we did was we executed the way we were asked to execute and I thought coming in late last night – the first period it was so important to get our legs under us and put pucks in behind him in and get our feet moving and get a good forecheck. But what impressed me the most tonight was how hard the guys worked to get back and the layers were there, so we didn’t give them much room or too many opportunities.”
As DJ Bean points out, Thursday might be a sign that the team is finally embracing the Julien message. Wednesday and Thursday marked the first back-to-back wins since before Christmas and come after the Bruins lost three straight one-goal games.
“So that was the kind of game we like to see our team play,” Julien said. “So, you want to build on that kind of stuff. Again, you never consider yourself out of the woods, but certainly something that’s real positive to build on.”
The one man in the locker room all season the Bruins have been waiting on to pick it up is Milan Lucic. His power play goal at the end of the first period picked up every single player in black and gold and gave the team a lift it desperately needed after outplaying, outshooting and outworking the Devils.
But what really stuck out to Julien was how his team responded to adversity of its own making, namely looking disorganized and impotent on a 5-on-3 power play.
“Well, what impressed me again, a lot about that. Obviously our five-on-three wasn’t great, and you know, there’s times where your team could have just fallen apart or lost its momentum ‘ we came back the next shift and we kept going and we never lost the pace of our game.
“So, that was important for us. And then again that power play goal at the end of the second, just kind of justified, I guess, the period that we were having. At least coming into the dressing room with the lead, it would have been disappointing had it not been that way. But our guys had a good first and we stayed with our game and got rewarded there at the end of the first.”
The other aspect of Thursday’s game that encouraged Julien was how the team picked up the slack for Loui Eriksson, unavailable after injuring his hand the night before in Pittsburgh. Leading the way there was Mr. Reliable Chris Kelly, creating a turnover that led to Carl Soderberg’s goal making it 2-0 in the second.
“He did a great job on that forecheck, forcing the guy to turn the puck over and Carl ‘ who had also a real good game, scored a big goal for us,” Julien said of Kelly. “But Kells is always going to be Kells. He’s not flashy and sometimes underrated by a lot of people, but we know how important he is and some of the things he does. The team needs a little bit of everything, and he’s not in the goal department, but he’s certainly in the other department that gives us a real good identity defensively.
“I think again our forecheck ‘ we talked about how important our forecheck had to be and that was one of the things that we looked at for our own team before looking at New Jersey. And our forecheck had to be better in order to spend more time and not let teams come out so easily.”
|Charlie Jacobs fires warning shot across Bruins organization||01.06.15 at 1:04 pm ET|
Charlie Jacobs held a press conference Tuesday to announce that he has been named CEO of Delaware North’s Boston Holdings, which runs the Bruins, TD Garden and NESN. Suspicions of the press conference’s timing were confirmed when Jacobs used the opportunity to fire warning shots across the Bruins organization.
Jacobs said that the entire Bruins organization is under evaluation, something he repeatedly referred to as a “fluid process.” He noted that he had met with both team president Cam Neely and general manager Peter Chiarelli to discuss the team’s status within the last 24 hours.
Asked whether players, coaches or management should be worried about their jobs, Jacobs repeated, “It’s a fluid process.”
At 19-15-6, the Bruins currently sit ninth in the Eastern Conference. Jacobs said missing the playoffs would be an “incredible failure.”
“When you think about what has been put into this team, in terms of … all of the scouting, all of the drafting, all of the money spent on player personnel, for us to be a team that’s out of the playoffs is absolutely unacceptable,” Jacobs said. “Everybody in the executive office is fully aware of how I feel and they feel the same way, which brings us to this evaluation process, and it’s fluid. I can’t say at any moment that we have a final decision other than to say it would be an utter disappointment and a failure.’
Claude Julien batted down a question Monday about whether players should fear for their jobs, but having the Principal of the team come out and say it forced Julien to weigh in.
“To be honest with you, I’ve always felt that we’re under evaluation all the time,” Julien said. “You don’t take this job and go in there and think it’s OK. Every year you’re being evaluated on what’s going on with the team and everything else. I think that’s a fair assessment. We all should be evaluated. Whether because he’s saying it now, is it because of the situation? Maybe. I don’t know, that’s up to Charlie to answer that. I’m OK with that statement.
“We made the playoffs seven years in a row with a lot of this group and this coaching staff, so at the same time, you look at the situation and you say what is the real issue and how do we deal with it, and that’s going to be up to them. So I have no issues. My job is always under evaluation, and I evaluate myself. I evaluate my coaches as well, I evaluate the players as well. I do that also. So I don’t know, maybe for you guys it’s a big statement — for me, it’s not.”
Julien was given a contract extension earlier this season. He compared this year’s Bruins to last season’s Red Wings, a squad that dealt with injuries to key players and made the playoffs. That’s a tough comparison to make, as the Bruins, who have missed Zdeno Chara and David Krejci for stretches, are completely healthy heading into the second half of the season.
“I guess everybody evaluates differently,” Julien said. “I look at our situation right now a lot like the Detroit Red Wings last year. A lot of injuries, a lot of in-and-outs and everything else. I’m not using excuses. We’ve not had the stability that we’d like to have, and it’s made for a rough road. Last year they made the playoffs with two or three games left. I’m not saying we’re going to be there with two or three games left. My evaluation and my job is to turn this thing around as quick as possible. There was no panic there. They understood the situation. I think right here, I don’t know how they evaluate the situation, but I know for a fact our guys, our group, our coaching staff, we’re going to try our best. It’s not good enough right now, but we’re determined to turn this thing around. Once it’s turned around, everyone will have smiles on their faces.
“Nobody likes to lose. The urgency that you’re alluding to, I’d be disappointed if we didn’t have that same urgency before even he said that. That would be a knock on our group. There is some urgency even if not everybody believes it. My job in the last couple days has been to get the guys to relax a little bit and not get so tense. Hopefully these comments don’t make it any worse. This is what we’ve got to deal with. I’ve got enough experience in this league to take this group of players and make them feel comfortable and understand that they’re capable of turning this around. I believe in this group, I really do.”
|Claude Julien admits Bruins aren’t as motivated as in years past||12.28.14 at 8:00 pm ET|
Claude Julien admitted Sunday what a lot of people have been able to tell for a long time: This year’s team is a tough group to motivate.
Dougie Hamilton pretty much said as much a week ago when he said players weren’t following the coach’s game plan, but to hear it from Julien himself is big. It brings to light an issue with the team’s character.
“We’ve been a lot livelier in the past,” Julien said. “Sometimes tough things that you go through kind of take the wind out of you, but that’s not an excuse. You have to have enough character to bring it every night, every day and there’s no doubt I think that if we can get our work ethic and our compete level up and make good decisions, we’re going to start winning games, we’re going to have fun again and the energy level’s going to be where we want it to be.
“That’s our job to create that. We have to create it as a coaching staff, as players and as a team. It’s as simple as that.”
The Bruins lost leaders this season with the departures of Shawn Thornton, Johnny Boychuk and Jarome Iginla. What Thornton lacked in on-ice effectiveness late in his Bruins tenure he more than made up for in character. Boychuk, a bit of a goofball who kept things loose, took great pride in being a Bruin. Iginla’s experience and leadership called for an received the respect of his teammates.
Despite those losses, the Bruins still have players wearing letters on their sweaters in captain Zdeno Chara and alternate captains Patrice Bergeron, Chris Kelly and David Krejci. When Chara and Krejci were hurt, Milan Lucic and Dennis Seidenberg took turns wearing an A.
All of the aforementioned Bruins have seen much better days with the Bruins and know how dominant they can be. It’s their job just as much as it is Julien’s to have themselves and their teammates motivated.
|Why December 23 is a meaningful day for the Bruins||12.23.14 at 1:02 pm ET|
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, “I 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 “it 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.”
|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|
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 “everyone’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.
|Frustrated Claude Julien points to Dennis Seidenberg’s struggles, Bruins’ offensive inconsistency||at 12:28 pm ET|
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.
|Claude Julien suggests Jonathan Toews shoulders some responsibility for his own injury||12.11.14 at 11:47 pm ET|
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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