|Claude Julien sounds quietly confident as his Bruins begin their quest for a repeat||04.08.12 at 9:24 am ET|
Claude Julien didn’t hide the fact that after Saturday’s press conference following a 4-3 shootout win over the Sabres in the regular season finale that he was headed to watch more hockey. He knew the Bruins were either going to be playing the Senators or the Capitals starting Thursday at TD Garden.
But first, he did allow time to look back on what was the toughest – albeit rewarding – grind of his coaching career, including falling very temporarily to the No. 7 seed in the East before rebounding to win four of their last five and salt away the division and the No. 2 spot.
“I don’t think we liked seeing ourselves in the seventh spot, but the one thing that really helped us through it is, I think we started sensing the playoffs were getting close, and we knew that we had to play better to be a good playoff team,” Julien said. “As I said numerous times, I think it was more of a mental struggle this year than anything else. Our guys are in — these guys are well-conditioned athletes, so physically, it’s never an issue, but the mental part. If your mind tells you you’re tired, you’re going to look tired. If your mind tells you you’re not, you’re going to perform with better energy, and I think right now it’s a big mental obstacle that we had to overcome this year because our guys, at one point, we looked tired because, in our minds, we felt tired, and I think once the excitement of the playoffs started getting closer, we started seeing the playoffs around the corner, all of a sudden, we started getting excited again.
“And you say, ‘Oh, look, they don’t look like they’re tired. They look like they’ve got a lot of energy.’ Well, I gave them days off, but those days off alone wouldn’t have been enough, so I think the part right now is our psyche, and if we’re excited to go into the playoffs, then we’re going to be just as good as any other team.”
Julien said he and his staff would pretty much begin their preparations immediately for their first-round opponent (the Washington Capitals) was determined.
“I’ll do it [Sunday],” Julien said after the win over the Sabres. “I mean, we’re off [Sunday] — that’s the players, not the coaching staff. The minute we find out our opponents, we start doing the video work and cutting, which we’ve already done some of it, but depending on some changes along the way. Obviously there’s two teams. It’s either Ottawa or Wash [Washington], so we’ve got a lot of that work done, and when it’s solidified, then we’re going to start, we’re going to finish it up, and by Monday, we should be on top of things.”
Asked about his team’s chances of repeating now that they’re back to the playoffs, Julien said his team is looking ahead to the first round, no further.
“That’s still a long ways away,” he said. “It’s one of those things where, they finished the season. Our number one goal is the same it’s been every year, and that’s to make the playoffs. And, I always keep saying the same thing over and over, that making the playoffs is a tough thing to do on a consistent basis. We’ve seen teams that have won the Cup and failed to make the playoffs the next year, we’ve seen teams win the Cup and just barely make it in.
“For us to win our division and get another season of over 100 points, I think it’s a credit to those guys in there because it was a tough grind. We had ups and downs, but now we start that new season that everybody gets excited about, and we’ve got as good a chance as anybody else to win, and even though it’s hard to, as they say, repeat nowadays, and it hasn’t been done in a long time, we’re certainly going to challenge that.”
|Bruins know Cup defense is all about them, not the opponent||04.07.12 at 8:30 pm ET|
Through all the number crunching and scenario possibilities Saturday afternoon, the Bruins knew one thing – it doesn’t matter who they’re playing, they are focused on themselves.
And they like what they’re seeing in the mirror right now.
“Well it helps, it definitely helps,” Milan Lucic said of Saturday’s 4-3 shootout win, giving them four wins in their final five games. “Obviously, there was a bit of a worry I guess when we couldn’t even put two wins together. We were winning one, losing one. Winning one, losing two, winning one. So, you know the fact that we were able to kind of regroup and get things going in is definitely more of a confident feeling and we’re looking forward to the challenge that’s coming up ahead.
“It doesn’t matter at all,” Lucic said when asked if he was planning to pay close attention to Saturday’s night games to see if they’re playing Washington or Ottawa.
“There’s a good saying, ‘In order to be the best, you have to beat the best.’ So, you know, it doesn’t matter who you play or who’s on the other side. It’s about who’s in this room and how we’re going to play so we’re committed to that, and that’s our main focus right now.”
The Bruins are happy with where they’re at following a shootout win against the Sabres that left them with 102 points and the No. 2 spot in the East. They’ll be opening with the Capitals on Thursday at TD Garden, as the Capitals won Saturday night in New York while the Panthers clinched the Southeast Division with a win over Carolina, clinching the No. 3 seed in the East. The Capitals wound up as the No. 7 seed while the Senators – who will play the Rangers – finished as the No. 8 seed.
“I got the app that shows you all the scores on the old iPhone so obviously I’m going to take a look by the end of the night and see who we’re up against,” Lucic said afterward. “It’s going to be a hard-fought battle no matter who we play… We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
Added Claude Julien, “That’s the feel that there should be in the dressing room. Anybody who decides who they want as an opponent, whether it’s, you know, saying, ‘Oh, I’d rather play this team than that team,’ or plays to pick their own opponents don’t deserve to win.
“That’s the way — this is a game. This is not wrestling, it’s not a fake sport, you don’t go out there and pretend to play and make sure you lose because you want a certain team to play against, because karma’s a pretty powerful thing, and I believe in doing the things right. And if we’re going to win, we’re going to have to beat every team that comes in our way, and that’s the way we’ve approached it.”
|Torey Krug finally gets his chance on the big stage||04.04.12 at 10:30 am ET|
Not all rookies get their chance to make their NHL debut playing for the defending Stanley Cup champs the week before they begin their title defense.
But with the Northeast Division salted away again and their No. 2 spot in the Eastern Conference sealed, the Bruins had the ideal chance to baptize 20-year-old defenseman Torey Krug into the world of big boys hockey Tuesday night against a team with names like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
Welcome to the show, kid.
“I think stepping on the ice the start of the game,” Krug said of his biggest moment during Boston’s 5-3 loss to the Penguins, his first game in the NHL. “What the coaching staff did was have me warm up a few games with the team and that actually helped a lot. You wouldn’t think it, but it really does. You get your bearings on the ice, skating around with the other guys.
“I mean I’m most upset that we lost. The expectation here is to win and we have to fine-tune-up before the playoffs.”
Krug has played on big stages before, playing collegiately for Michigan State in the CCHA. He’s played against the likes of Michigan, Ohio State and Ferris State. But clearly, Tuesday was a different animal.
“It’s a lot different,” he said. “It was a lot of fun to play in front of these fans. Michigan State, the crowd we had there was very intimate and into the game and I feel it was the same here. Everybody knows their stuff and they know hockey so the fans are unbelievable and it’s something I look forward to on a nightly basis.”
Krug, who turns 21 on April 12, was signed to an NHL entry contract on March 25. He skated with the Bruins last Tuesday in practice and dressed on Thursday but was a healthy scratch. After a week, he was ready to make his debut Tuesday against one of the most talented teams in hockey.
“I thought he handled himself well,” his coach Claude Julien said. “I like the way he moved the puck. I think everybody who knows the game realized that he’s a good puck-mover, his mobility was obvious, and the only thing I would tell you is that you could see him in the defensive zone really thinking about trying to play within our system, and sometimes he was maybe just a fraction of a second delayed – which is totally normal – but once he knew what he had to do, he went. So there was no hesitation once his mind was made up, and that will only get better as it becomes second nature, and that’s totally, as I said, totally natural for a guy playing in his first game. But the rest of it — as I said, when he had the puck, didn’t hesitate, thought he moved it well and made great passes.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Was hit on Adam McQuaid dirty? ‘Reckless’ is more like it||03.30.12 at 12:07 am ET|
At first glance, the Jason Chimera hit on Adam McQuaid with six minutes left in the first period Thursday evokes emotions of anger and revenge.
But even the Bruins, who have been on both sides of vicious hits over the last several seasons, were careful to choose their words carefully after the game, given the fine line between finishing your check and hitting from behind and endangering a vulnerable player.
Chimera was given a five-minute major for charging and a game misconduct for the hit that left McQuaid on the ice for several minutes with a gash over his eye and a dazed head.
The Bruins reaction? Measured.
“Well, you know, again, when it happens to you, you also have to be honest about it. I think, again, he came off the bench, and he was going hard, and maybe it was a little bit reckless, but there’s no doubt in my mind that it wasn’t intentional,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You know, McQuaid, Mac just turned at the last second and, you know, put himself in a bit of vulnerable position, but still, like, I agree with the referee’s call.
“It was a bit of a reckless hit, and it deserved probably a five[-minute penalty] when you look back at the replay, and they had to make that decision. It was a tough one, but certainly wasn’t intent to injure by the player, in my mind. And, you know, and that’s why I keep saying, and you’ve heard me before, I really, really encourage our players to be careful, with the speed of the game today, to make sure you don’t turn your back to the play as much because those kind of things happen. And you worry about the security of the players, you worry about the safety of the game, and I’m one of those guys that will look at both sides of it and not just preach for my side of it.”
Joe Corvo – already filling in for injured Dennis Seidenberg – not only saw the hit, but saw both sides.
“It’s nearly impossible when a guy comes, I noticed I think he came off the bench, and really didn’t break stride,” Corvo said. “It’s a tough play because it’s hard for that forward to stop when he’s coming that fast and Quaider [McQuaid] kind of turned a little bit. The guy could have let up a little bit but it just happens fast. I think that’s why he was so upset that he got thrown out. I don’t think he’s a dirty player, I think just with his speed it was hard for him to stop.”
|Brian Rolston is finally over ‘whatever happened in Long Island’||03.28.12 at 12:33 pm ET|
February 27 was a day of liberation for Brian Rolston.
He was traded from the hapless New York Islanders with no chance of making the playoffs back to the Bruins, who are still among the favorites to reach another Stanley Cup final.
Rolston has certainly been inspired.
In his current seven-game scoring streak, he has three goals and nine assists, already matching his productivity in 49 games with the Islanders this season. The Bruins have won three in a row for the first time in over 40 games.
“Just been given a great opportunity, the coaches have shown a lot of confidence in me in certain situations that gives me confidence as a player, and obviously playing with two great players helps out a lot as well,” Rolston said after Tuesday’s 5-2 triumph over Tampa Bay. “I think we just have good chemistry together, that’s about it. I’ve produced over my career and you know whatever happened in Long Island happened in Long Island and it’s past that now.”
What happened on Long Island was four goals and five assists in 49 games for the team that has served as the perennial doormat of the Eastern Conference for the last decade.
Rolston has tasted success from the Stanley Cup before, winning it all with the 1995 New Jersey Devils. He sees these Bruins picking up momentum at just the right time.
“Well, you know obviously we had two real tough games on the road that we won, those were huge games for us,” Rolston said. “Just to get confidence, when you win you get confidence. This team is so good structurally that it’s just a matter of time before you do put it together, but this is a good time to put it together for sure and it’s a good team in here, great team.”
|Johnny Boychuk helps Bruins find their jam||03.09.12 at 9:53 am ET|
In the midst of a 1-1 game in the third period, the Sabres and Bruins appeared for all the world to be heading for overtime.
Then with just under 10 minutes remaining in the third – BANG – Johnny Boychuk delivers.
No, it wasn’t his go-ahead blast from the right point with seven minutes remaining. It was something just as electric and woke everyone up in the building. Boychuk cleanly leveled Sabres star Thomas Vanek at Buffalo’s blue line and the tempo had been set for the rest of the game.
“I saw a guy coming back so I could pinch down and I could see [Vanek] wasn’t really paying attention too much – I just wanted to make sure it was a clean hit,” Boychuk said. “The fans gave us a little boost and we took it from there.”
Shawn Thornton knows a thing or two about physical play and loved what he saw from the hit. To Thornton, the Bruins were playing a solid game and Boychuk’s hit just raised the level.
“Yeah, he’s a very physical player,” Thornton said. “I thought we played a pretty good game so I thought the momentum might have been amped up a little bit more. I thought we were pretty solid most of the night as it was.”
There’s an expression in hockey for what the Bruins had Thursday night – jam. It’s the energy to make things happen on the ice.
Two minutes after Boychuk’s wake-up call – just about 15 feet in closer from where he delivered his hit on Vanek – he unloaded one of his characteristic “Johnny Rockets” past Jhonas Enroth and the Bruins had the lead for good in a 3-1 win over the Sabres at TD Garden.
“It was just like a scramble play and I saw the puck coming through and I just decided I’ll go down and try to rip it home,” Boychuk said. “It’s just, you see the play developing and I know [Patrice Bergeron] is good defensively, so if I go down and get that puck I know he’s going to be backing me up.”
Boychuk was asked if he were actually aiming the puck to an open spot above Enroth’s shoulder, the mere suggestion of which made Boychuk laugh.
“Well, I was aiming of course,” Boychuk laughed. “I hit him in the belly a couple of times and one went through him so you know, try to just put it on top.”
|David Krejci: ‘You just can’t turn it on when the playoffs come’||03.02.12 at 8:46 am ET|
David Krejci knew full well what his February was like. Like his whole season to this point, it had been very up and down and inconsistent.
That all changed Thursday when the calendar flipped to March. The center-turned-winger was back at center and he netted his second career hat trick, finishing it off with an overtime goal that propelled the Bruins past the Devils, 4-3, in overtime.
Krejci had been in a huge slump coming in, just 13 goals, including two in 13 games in the month of February. His assist totals are also way off. He hasn’t had a helper since Jan. 31 and has 28 for the season, one reason why Julien moved him from center to wing.
But Thursday night with Tyler Seguin on his wing, Krejci was back at center. He looked reenergized and fresh, and most importantly, ready to contribute in a big way down the stretch as the Bruins try to regain their momentum for another spring title run.
“Yeah, I wasn’t thinking about it, I had two goals in the month of February,” Krejci said of his struggles in February. “But, you know, I just take it game by game. I want to do my best every game and I was feeling really good before the game and I got Segs on my line so I was excited about it. We click well together with Looch [Milan Lucic] and him and it was a good game for us. I know we had a little sloppy second period but we came back hard in the third and won the game. That was the most important thing.”
His coach has noticed an improvement of late.
“I think he’s really, he looks more comfortable right now,” Claude Julien said of Krejci. “As I’ve often said, he puts a lot of pressure on himself. He’s probably his worst enemy when things aren’t going well, and because of that, it doesn’t help him in the long run. You try and take some of that pressure off and say, ‘Listen, you’ve just got to go out there and play.’ So, when he feels good about his game, you see a big difference, and that’s what we’ve seen here.”
Like his previous two goals, his overtime goal came as the result of finding space in front of Martin Brodeur. And like his first two goals of the night his timing and positioning in front paid off.
“A little lucky that one, I guess. I was at the end of my shift, I was tired and, you know, Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] made a good play,” he said. “I kind of sensed it that he was going to throw it in front of the net and Z [Zdeno Chara] tried to jam it and I was just at the right time at the right place. I saw Brodeur was down so first thought was go upstairs and it worked that time.” Read the rest of this entry »