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Claude Julien on motivating his team for playoffs: ‘I’m only a coach’ 04.07.11 at 11:58 am ET
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This is a very, very difficult time of the year for NHL coaches who know their teams are already in the Stanley Cup playoffs. They have to balance fighting for playoff position with fighting complacency.

Sometimes, the task can become quite frustrating, if not overwhelming, to manage.

Just ask Claude Julien. With his team already assured of home ice in the first round by virtue of their Northeast Division crown, Julien watched on Monday night as his team blew a 3-0 lead to the Rangers at Madison Square Garden in an ugly 5-3 loss.

Then on Wednesday, at home to the lowly Islanders, he watched his top two lines go through the motions, only to get great games from his “energy line” in a 3-2 escape at TD Garden. Shawn Thornton had a goal in his return and Gregory Campbell had a goal and an assist.

Afterward, a reporter at Julien’s press conference opened by asking if that’s the kind of effort he was looking for after the Monday meltdown in New York.

“Are you serious with that question?” Julien chirped. “No, certainly not the kind of game you want to see from your team and I think the execution wasn’€™t very good tonight. We weren’€™t very sharp. Our best players certainly didn’€™t make a difference and who made a difference was our fourth line and the Campbell line was very good for us tonight and the goaltender made some good saves for us.

“But, it’€™s one of those games where you try and motivate your team to play hard and play well and I think there’€™s a challenge there. You know, you can say what you want and you can preach what you want, but there’€™s a lot of players I think that are looking forward to the next season and so those are the challenges that we have at this time of year.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Gregory Campbell, New Jersey Devils
Michael Grabner has Islanders within one after two periods 04.06.11 at 8:37 pm ET
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The B’s continued to get pucks past Rick DiPietro in the second period, but a pair of Michael Grabner strikes have the Islanders within one. After two, the Bruins lead the Islanders, 3-2.

Grabner tied the game at one with his 32nd goal of the season, a power play strike at 3:24. Though the B’s would answer back with goals from Dennis Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell, Grabner would make it 3-2 on a shorthanded goal at 14:26.

The Islanders outshot the B’s, 14-10, in the period. Through two, the Bruins are 0-for-4 on the power play and have allowed a shorthanded goal.

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Gregory Campbell, Michael Grabner,
Bruins hold optional morning skate in anticipation of Blackhawks 03.29.11 at 11:23 am ET
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The sounds of pucks hitting boards and skates cutting ice were drowned out by a game of hallway soccer, as the Bruins held an optional skate Thursday in anticipation of their game against the Blackhawks. Tuukka Rask, Chris Kelly, Michael Ryder, Tyler Seguin, Gregory Campbell, Shane Hnidy, Steven Kampfer and Adam McQuaid skated for the B’s. Expect Tim Thomas to start with Rask the only goaltender to skate in the optional.

Given that Ryder also skated in the optional and that Claude Julien expressed a desire to stick with the same lineup that won them Sunday’s game in Philadelphia, it is probable that Ryder will be a healthy scratch once again.

Here are some notes from the morning:

- Julien said that he doesn’t feel a need to talk about last year’s playoffs with his team as they prepare for the postseason this time around. The B’s blew a 3-0 series and Game 7 lead in the second round last year against the Flyers.

“I think for us right now it’€™s just focusing on the moment. From here on in, we’ve still got to maintain our play, our level of play that we’€™ve had lately and continue to try and even improve that. There’€™s no room for complacency right now, and we have lots of players. If we’€™re going to move some players in and out from here on in it’€™s not because we’€™re taking it easy, but because we want everybody ready to go. That’€™s kind of the message that we gave the players. So for us, I think we need to make sure we maintain our level of play from here on in.”

- Much was made in training camp of the new situation that former Panthers Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton found themselves in. Having never been to the playoffs in their careers, it seemed the postseason would be extra special for them. Campbell spoke about what it means to him to finally know he’s headed for the playoffs.

“I’m excited. It’s been a long time. That was the first thing I thought of when I got traded to Boston, was that I was going to get a chance to play in the playoffs,” Campbell said. “For me, at this point in my career, the most meaningful thing is to get a chance to win. I know this organization’s excited about the opportunity to get back to the playoffs again.”

- While Julien said that the recent scratches “probably” won’t get in the lineup Tuesday, he will get them in the lineup over the next two weeks to both rest those playing and keep everybody fresh.

“We’€™ve got to remember the guys were going to put in are good players. It’€™s not like you’€™re putting in a bad player,” Julien said of the players serving as healthy scratches. “It’€™s that you’€™ve got a 20-man roster for the game, but you’€™ve got 22-23 guys here. We’€™re going to put some guys in, pull some guys out, but certainly not to say, well this is a game that we’€™re going to take it easy, we’€™re going to pull so-and-so out. We’€™ve got to stay on top of our game, and that’€™s what I’€™ve been talking about, sliding guys in that can go in there and stay sharp so that if, come playoff time, we need somebody, they haven’€™t been sitting around for a month.”

- Julien spoke highly of David Krejci, who has 28 points in the 27 games since Marc Savard went down with his latest concussion. The coach said it’s been more a result of improved play than increased opportunity.

“He’€™s elevated his play, there’€™s no doubt,” Julien said. “He’€™s become a better player in the second half of the season. I think we’€™re starting to see more of the David Krejci we know. I think he had a bit of a slow start this year and wasn’€™t skating as well as we had seen him in the past. And was trying to make those plays, but when you don’€™t use your speed it’€™s pretty hard to make those plays in this league. So I think his skating has gotten better, his intensity has gotten better, and because of that he’€™s making some plays.”

- The coach said that as far as fine-tuning things go prior to the playoffs, special teams will be the focus. After an ugly stretch, the power play has scored four goals in the last four games, while the penalty kill has allowed one goal over the last five.

“[Power play] is an area we’€™ve got to get better at,” Julien said. “Even our penalty kill had been pretty good all year, then we hit that funk there for about three weeks that really made us slide down in the [rankings] in regards to that. We’€™ve got to get that back to where we feel it should be. I think our special teams are going to be important from here on in, and those are part of the things we need to work on.

“What I liked about the last game is that we were playing a really good team, it was a tight checking game and we stuck with it and found a way to win. You’€™ve got to be able to  be patient with those types of games that are tight checking games. In the playoffs, that’€™s what you’€™re going to get, and I think our guys did a great job in the third period of not creating some bad mistakes or turnovers, and eventually they broke, took a penalty, and we took advantage of it. It’€™s those little details when you get near the end of the year. You want your team to be composed and in control of their game plan.”

Read More: Adam McQuaid, Claude Julien, David Krejci, Gregory Campbell
Officiating blunder costs Bruins in first period 03.26.11 at 1:41 pm ET
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The Bruins fell victim to an officiating error in the first period, and it shows on the scoreboard as the Rangers hold a 1-0 lead at the first intermission.

Marian Gaborik had to reach back for the puck after entering the offensive zone with about six and a half minutes into the game. When no off-sides call was made, Michael Sauer fired a shot from the point off the following face-off that forward Derek Stepan would redirect past Tuukka Rask at 6:39.

The Bruins weren’t able to respond in short order, as Tyler Seguin was called for interference just over two minutes later. The period featured one fight, with Gregory Campbell dropping the gloves with Sean Avery at 2:44.

After one, the Rangers hold a 9-8 advantage in shots on goal.

Read More: Gregory Campbell, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin,
Price is wrong (again): Bruins crush Habs behind Tim Thomas shutout 03.24.11 at 9:36 pm ET
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Amidst what Milan Lucic called a “war of words,” the Bruins let their play do the talking Thursday at TD Garden, chasing Carey Price and defeating the Canadiens, 7-0, at TD Garden.

The Bruins got on the board early, with Johnny Boychuk scoring his second goal of the season at 1:01 of the first period. The Bruins also got first-period tallies from Gregory Campbell and Nathan Horton, with Horton’s tally coming on the power play off a feed from Lucic. Horton would add his second goal of the game at 15:57 of the third period, with Adam McQuaid making it a clean five for the Bruins moments later and sending Price to the Montreal bench in favor of backup Alex Auld. Tomas Kaberle welcomed Auld by scoring his first goal since being acquired by the Bruins on Feb. 18.

Campbell scored a shorthanded goal with the Habs on the two-man advantage in the third period. It made for his first two-goal game as a member of the Bruins.

David Krejci and Chara tied a career-high with three assists, while Lucic’s three assists set a career-high.

Tim Thomas improved to 31-10-8 with the victory, and picked up his career-high eighth shutout of the season. His last shutout came on Jan. 17. His 18 games without a blanking served as teh longest stretch of the season without a shutout.

The game featured only one fight, as Campbell dropped the gloves with Belmont native Paul Mara late in the second period.

With the victory, the Bruins finished the season series with a 2-3-1 record against their rivals. At third and six place in the Eastern Conference, respectively, the teams would meet in the first round of the playoffs if the season were to end Thursday night. The Bruins have nine games remaining in the season and lead the Habs by five points. The Canadiens have seven games remaining in the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- As much attention as he’s gotten for the wrong reasons since the March 8 Max Pacioretty hit, Chara hasn’t seen his play take a hit in the slightest. With his three assists, Chara has 10 points (2 G, 8 A) in seven games since the Bruins last faced the Habs.

- Chris Kelly hasn’t exactly been a fan favorite since coming to the B’s prior to the trade deadline, but he had one shift on the penalty kill that probably won a few fans over. Kelly had no problem laying out on the ice to disrupt a P.K. Subban slap shot, and moments later had a shorthanded opportunity that drew a Roman Hamrlik holding call. It wasn’t all roses, as Kelly took a tripping call at 1:35 of the third period, but he might be more valuable to this team than he gets credit for.

- Good to see Tyler Seguin sticking his nose into the more physical areas. The rookie has shied away from contact throughout the season, but he’s clearly more willing to take it on as of late. Seguin even came to the aid of Mark Recchi after the veteran’s tussle with Mara. The rookie exchanged a few shoves with Habs defenseman Brett Sopel after he felt Mike Cammalleri gave him something extra behind the Canadiens net.

- Recchi is now tied for 12th place all-time in points. His assist on Kaberle’s goal put him in a tie with Paul Coffey with 1,531.

- Brad Marchand broke up a seven-game pointless streak in setting up the play that led to Kaberle’s goal and getting an asssist. The rookie had just one point, an assist, in his previous to games. He has still been stuck at 19 goals on the season for over a month. Marchand last scored on Feb. 22 in Calgary.

WHAT BARELY WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- If the Habs weren’t so dead the entire night, they would have had an opportinity to produce the makings of a comeback in the second period while trailing 3-0. After the B’s outshot the Canadiens, 19-8, in the first period, the Habs had some space to work with early in the second. They came out with five shots to the Bruins’ two early in the second, but a Bruins timeout and Montreal penalties doomed their chances of getting anything going.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR CAREY PRICE

- The Bruins don’t match up well with the Habs, but if they meet in the playoffs they have to like their chances against Price at the Garden. The Montreal netminder has allowed 13 goals in his last two Garden appearances, both of which were losses.

Read More: Carey Price, David Krejci, Gregory Campbell, Zdeno Chara
Gregory Campbell drops the gloves with Paul Mara in scoreless second period at 8:42 pm ET
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The Bruins and Canadiens skated to a scoreless second period, and with 20 minutes left to play, the B’s lead the Habs, 3-0.

The Bruins didn’t have the best start to the period as they were outshot, 5-2, in the earlygoing after holding a 19-8 shots advantage in the first period.

For the second straight period, the Habs were the more penalized team between the two.Scott Gomez went off for high-sticking Zdeno Chara at 10:40, while chippy play between Mark Recchi and Paul Mara at 12:43 yielded a cross-checking minor for Recchi and a roughing double-minor on Mara. Scott Gomez went off for holding at 17:43.

The game did see its first fight, as Gregory Campbell and Mara dropped the gloves at 19:43.

Read More: Gregory Campbell,
Nathan Horton has Bruins leading Sabres, 1-0 03.10.11 at 7:42 pm ET
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The David Krejci line remains red-hot, and as a result the Bruins are leading the Sabres, 1-0, on a Nathan Horton goal.

Horton scored his 19th over the year at 8:54, finishing a 3-on-2 with Milan Lucic and Krejci getting the assists. The play came about thanks to nice work by Adam McQuaid in breaking it out of the Bruins’ zone.

The period featured a fight between Gregory Campbell and Cody McCormick, with the Sabres forward winning the bought. Each team had power plays that lasted just seconds, as Tyler Myers went to the box for tripping just five seconds after Shawn Thornton went off for interference.

Tim Thomas had an impressive period, making big saves on Jordon Leopold and Jason Pominville, the latter of which he made by quickly sliding from side to side to rob the Bruins killer (eight points in five games vs. Boston this season).

The B’s are outshooting the Sabres, 15-11.

Read More: Adam McQuaid, David Krejci, Gregory Campbell, Milan Lucic
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