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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 Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Shawn Thornton shows again why he’s not just the toughest Bruin, he’s their funniest, too 04.06.11 at 11:24 pm ET
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Forget the fact that he is regarded by many as their toughest player, if everyone on the Bruins had Shawn Thornton‘s energy, the team would never be accused of taking nights off. Thornton is trying to make sure that the Bruins are fired up for the playoffs that start next week.

His goal at the latest possible moment (19:59.9) of the first period got the Bruins going in his first game back and helped the Bruins to a 3-2 win over the Islanders at TD Garden. The Bruins have 101 points now but to Thornton, the more important mission in the final two games is to keep focus.

“Just keeping that rhythm I think,” Thornton said. “Keeping our confidence. Keeping the fun going into the playoffs. This is the best time of the year. The weather is getting nice. You have to want to come to the rink this time of year. For me that’s the biggest thing: to stay upbeat, confident and play our game.

As their coach Claude Julien pointed out afterward, the Bruins did not look sharp in the win as there were defensive breakdowns that allowed the Islanders back in the game, two days after blowing a 3-0 lead to the Rangers in New York.

“I mean there were some lapses,” Thornton said. “We just have to play our game and not worry who we’re playing against. When we’re playing our style of game we’re a really, really good team. When we get away from that, we’ve seen it through the years what happens there. As long as we continue to play our game plan we’ll be a pretty good team.”

As for who they’ll be playing in the first round, Thornton said it doesn’t matter to him since he’s not even paying attention to the standing right now.

“You’re talking to the wrong guy,” Thornton said. “I don’t ever pay attention to the standings. No I don’t know what is going on. Maybe the other guys are different, but I just kind of focus on what’s going on today and don’t worry about the rest.”

After scoring his 10th goal of the season in his first game back since a nasty injury to his forehead, Thornton was also quick to give credit to his assistant coaches and back-up goalie Tuukka Rask after Wednesday’s win. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Daniel Paille, New York Islanders, NHL Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Brad Marchand having a ‘pretty insane time’ playing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi, winning awards 04.02.11 at 8:50 pm ET
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Talk about quite the rookie ride. It’s been Brad Marchand – not Tyler Seguin – everyone one is talking about and scouting for that matter, as a first-year Bruin heading into the playoffs.

After scoring 21 goals and adding 19 assists in 72 games, the Bruins winger was honored before Saturday’s division-clinching 3-2 win over the Thrashers as the 2010-11 Bruins “Seventh Player Award” given to the Bruins player who goes above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded expectations, as voted on by Bruins fans.

“Well, it was a question mark whether I was going to be on the team this year, so it’s a honor to win that award,” Marchand said. “It’s special.

“I think I was expected to be defensively responsible and bring energy into the game. Now I think I still have to do the exact same thing, but maybe bring a little more offense.”

Marchand celebrated the honor by picking up his 20th assist on Boston’s first goal Saturday, a score by Mark Recchi.

Technically still a rookie after 20 games last season, Marchand has earned the trust of his coaching staff by playing the left wing on the team’s second line, playing with Patrice Bergeron and Recchi.

“It’s huge, they’re great offensive players,” Marchand said. “They’re both very smart. They make a lot of unbelievable plays that you don’t see coming a lot of times. So with guys like that, you’re expected to produce. It’s a pretty insane time playing with guys as good as them.”

“I think it’s very deserving and that’s certainly not to take away some of the other guys that have made tremendous steps as well,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “But, he’s one of those guys that obviously surpassed maybe a lot of our expectations, obviously not his because he had made that prediction. But nonetheless, I think he’s been a real good player for us from starting off on the fourth line and really making that line probably one of the best fourth lines we’ve had here for a long, long time and obviously was probably one of the best fourth lines in the League.

“He graduated obviously with Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] and Rex [Mark Recchi] and those guys have certainly, as much as he’s benefited from them, they’ve benefited from him as well. They know that. He’s such a good skater and he plays hard every night. He’s been a real good player for us and I think it’s going to be exciting to see him jump into the playoffs, just by the way he is. He’s going to be pumped for that and I think he’s going to be a really good asset for our hockey club.”

Marchand is expected to receive consideration for the NHL’s Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie. The favorites are considered Carolina’s Jeff Skinner and San Jose’s Logan Couture.

But that obviously isn’t the trophy foremost on Marchand’s mind.

“We didn’t come into this season wanting to win this division,” Marchand said of the Northeast title Saturday. “We have a goal, and that’s to win the Stanley Cup. So it’s a stepping stone, and it’s a good accomplishment for a great team. But there’s a long way to go before we accomplish our goal. It’s special, but at the same time we’re a long ways away.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Bruins seventh player award, Calder Trophy Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Welcome back, Michael Ryder. The Bruins might be able to use you in the playoffs at 8:37 pm ET
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By his own admission, the last three weeks haven’t exactly been a joyride for Michael Ryder.

He is a player talented enough to serve the same capacity as Miroslav Satan did in last year’s playoffs. He is a veteran sniper who has playoff experience finishing his chances.

But, in the second half of this season, it’s been a different story. His penalty shot score to win Saturday’s game against Atlanta and clinch the Northeast title for the Bruins was his 18th goal but first since Feb. 27, a span of 12 games.

“Yeah, I’ve struggled to find goals lately,” Ryder said. “Last game goal post, then [Saturday] crossbar. Just got to try and stay with it. If I keep just working hard and shooting the puck, it’ll go in for me.”

In that stretch, he has been benched twice by coach Claude Julien, once last Saturday against the Rangers and once on March 10 against the Islanders.

“You want to be in the lineup, nobody wants to be out,” Ryder said. “It’s frustrating and I’ve been there before, so I kind of know what it takes to get back in. It’s just working hard and finding your game, and not letting the little things get to you. Just make sure when you get back in that you take advantage of the chances that you get.”

Sometimes you get a break and Ryder made his own break with just under eight minutes left when he forced a neutral zone turnover by the Thrashers and broke in alone. He was hooked from behind by Johnny Oduya and was awarded a penalty shot.

I was just trying to skate and get away from the guy behind me. I don’t really know what happened. Just fell down and they called a penalty shot. I was just trying to catch my breath, that’s it.

Thursday night, during the shootout, Ryder went up top and missed the net during Boston’s loss. This time, he made sure to get it on net. And when he went up top on Ondrej Pavelec, above his right shoulder, the crowd exploded. Ryder had finally snapped his goalless streak at 12 games.

“I was just excited to get the goal,” Ryder said. “I was tired on the penalty shot, so I didn’t know what I was going to do. Like I said, that was a big win for us. I knew if we got the lead and I scored there, it would get the team going and hopefully we could pull out the win. Last game I missed the net, [Saturday] I hit it. It was a big goal for us, we wanted to make sure we got the win, and I think we’ve played better games but as long as we get the two points that doesn’t mean anything.”

By benching him twice and putting him on the third and fourth lines, Julien wanted to give him time to think about what it will take to rediscover that touch in time for a Stanley Cup run in two weeks.

“I think it’s just a matter of it was nice to see him score that goal,” Julien said. “Obviously it turned out to be a big goal for us, but these are steps in the right direction. I think, you know, when he starts feeling confident about doing those things and doing them without over-thinking, he’s going to be a good player again.”

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Michael Ryder Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Brad Marchand picks up first significant award – Bruins 7th Player Award at 1:22 pm ET
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After scoring 21 goals and adding 19 assists in 72 games, Bruins winger Brad Marchand was honored as the 2010-11 Bruins “Seventh Player Award” given to the Bruins player who goes above and beyond the call of duty and exceeded expectations, as voted on by Bruins fans.

Technically still a rookie, Marchand has earned the trust of his coaching staff by playing the left wing on the team’s second line, playing with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi.

Marchand celebrated the honor by picking up his 20th assist on Boston’s first goal Saturday, a score by Mark Recchi.

Marchand is expected to receive consideration for the NHL’s Calder Trophy, awarded to the league’s top rookie. The favorites are considered Carolina’s Jeff Skinner and San Jose’s Logan Couture.

Read More: 7th Player Award, Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Shane Hnidy makes his second-time-around debut with B’s, Steve Kampfer back to bench at 12:12 pm ET
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After missing most of the season with a shoulder injury, defenseman Shane Hnidy has been cleared by coach Claude Julien to return to action today against the Thrashers in a matinee at TD Garden.

Hnidy suffered the injury during camp with the Coyotes in September and spent the first half of the season rehabbing it before signing as a free agent with the Bruins at the end of February.

This is Hnidy’s third stint with Bruins, racking up three goals and nine assists in 65 games two seasons ago. The 35-year-old Hnidy had a goal and four assists in 43 games in the 2007-08 season. To make room for Hnidy, Julien scratched rookie blueliner Steve Kampfer for the seventh time in eight games.

The well-traveled Hnidy broke in with Ottawa in the 2000-01 season and played his first three seasons with the Senators before being traded to Nashville in the middle of the 2003-04 season. Following the lockout, he came back and played two seasons with Atlanta before being signed by Anaheim in July 2007. He was traded to Boston in the middle of the 07-08 season, his first go-around with the Bruins.

Hnidy’s best season came in 2006-07 with the Thrashers, when he had five goals and seven assists in 72 games with a plus-minus of +15.

Hnidy played for Minnesota last season before getting a tryout with the Coyotes last September.

Read More: Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Minnesota Wild Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
Claude Julien would rather Brad Marchand not ‘cross a line’ 04.01.11 at 9:49 am ET
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Maybe it’s because the emotions of Tuesday night are so raw or maybe it’s simply because he realizes it’s not a very professional move but Bruins coach Claude Julien made it pretty clear after Thursday’s 4-3 shootout loss that he wasn’t thrilled with Brad Marchand‘s friendly suggestion to the Leafs for offseason plans.

In case you missed it, following the second period – one in which he scored a short-handed goal to help his team to a 3-2 lead heading into the third – Marchand skated by the visitors’ bench and practiced his nine-iron swing. Clearly, he was not showing good form.

“I mean, it’s just, he’s been a good player for us and again, his emotions sometimes can be a positive, but sometimes you don’t want to cross the line and certainly you don’t like that when that happens. So it’s just a learning process,” Julien said.

Fact is, Marchand has been a good player for the Bruins, so good that Julien has entrusted him with skating on one of the team’s top lines with Patrice Bergeron and Mark Recchi.

His second period short-hander was his fifth this season, tying him for second this season in that category in all of the NHL.

And it was that goal, not his golf swing, that brought energy to the Bruins in the second period and brought them to within 20 minutes of clinching the Northeast Division before a third-period Joffrey Lupul goal set up Toronto’s shootout win.

“I think I just came off the bench and tried to take an angle and he passed it right on my stick,” Marchand said. “I wanted to drive, I knew there was forward coming back so I wanted to try and cut in. The puck kind of popped out there in the open and I just backhanded it. Especially in a situation where we’re on the penalty kill and they’re on the power play. It kind of takes their momentum out of the game and gives it to us. It was good timing, but a lucky goal.”

So, there. Brad Marchand is totally capable of showing humility. And it’s that humility, along with more specialty teams goals, the Bruins are looking for in the coming weeks and months.

“Come playoff time we can’t just flip the switch,” Marchand added. “If you’re going to play your best hockey, you have to have to play up to that, play up to that point. You have to build on it. It’s almost like you get momentum and you’ve got to feed off that. We want to get on a roll here, and make sure we’re playing our best hockey.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Brad Marchand, Claude Julien, NHL Print  |  Email   | Bark It Up!  |  Digg It
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