|Claude Julien: Tuukka Rask ‘just as good’ as Tim Thomas in 2011 Cup run||06.16.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
The comparison has been obvious since the second round of this Bruins playoff run.
In the eyes of Bruins coach Claude Julien, there’s no doubt.
“I think it’s just as good, no doubt,” Julien said of Rask, who is now 13-5 in the playoffs, a 1.73 goals against and a .944 save percentage. All of those numbers better the performance of Thomas when he won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. “Tim has been a great goaltender for us. When you lose a guy like that, there’s always that fear that you’re not going to be able to replace him.
“Tuukka’s done an outstanding job. To me, he’s been as much of a contributor to our team as Tim was two years ago.”
Rask gave his take on Sunday morning.
“For myself, that was the best I’ve ever seen, obviously,” Rask said of Thomas’ 16-9 record, with a 1.98 GAA and a .940 save percentage in the 2011 playoffs. “I’d never been that deep in the playoffs before and for me, as a spectator, that was the best stretch of goaltending I’d ever seen.”
The only area where Thomas has Rask beat right now is in shutouts (4-2), that and a Conn Smythe trophy, for now.
Rask did admit one thing Sunday – this is the best goaltending he’s played in his career.
“Probably, yeah,” Rask said.
|Claude Julien on heavy minutes for Zdeno Chara: ‘Right now, we don’t have a choice’||05.17.13 at 3:47 pm ET|
One of the by-products of having three regular defensemen out of the lineup and injured is putting a heavy burden on others.
No where has the burden fallen more heavily than on the shoulders of Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. Claude Julien admitted as much on Friday, a much-needed day of rest for Chara, who logged 38 minutes of ice time in the Game 1 overtime win, three days after skating nearly 36 minutes in a Game 7 win against the Leafs.
Is Julien concerned?
“Well, he’s done it twice in a row now, when you look back at Game 7 and [Thursday],” Julien said. “We’re including overtime in that session, as well. He’s in great shape, he’s got a couple of days here to recover, so I don’t see that being an issue. To be honest with you, right now we don’t have a choice. You deal with it the best way you can.”
In addition to scoring the first goal of the game, Chara’s poke check in the Bruins zone set Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand off on the game-winning rush in overtime Thursday. Those two feats, combined with the 38 minutes on the ice earned him the Army Captain’s Bruins jacket for hero of the game.
“I’m just trying to help the team as much as I can and whatever coach feel comfortable putting out there, I’m fine with that,” Chara said.
Chara has been instrumental in helping rookies, Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski in their first NHL playoff experience. He started the game Thursday paired with Hamilton. There is the chance that some combination of Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden return for Game 2 Sunday but until then, Chara and the Bruins will have no choice but to be prepared.
“You try to obviously try to talk to them on the ice as much as you can,” Chara said. “[The] coaches [are] doing their part so, and also you’ve got to let them play, the way they naturally like to play. So, that’s the biggest thing, but like I said it’s something that’s never easy for any player to come in and all of a sudden be put in a spot like this and you got to make sure that as a unit of five we all play a certain way to make it easier on certain situations.”
|John Tortorella: ‘We got spanked’ by Bruins in OT||at 2:24 am ET|
No one tells it like it is quite like John Tortorella, especially after a kick-in-the-gut loss like his Rangers experienced Thursday night at the hands of the Bruins in overtime.
The Bruins manhandled the Rangers in overtime, outshooting them 16-5, with the final shot coming off the stick of Brad Marchand 15:40 into overtime and delivering the Bruins a 3-2 win in Game 1. Six of those 16 shots came on one power play when the Bruins took complete charge and didn’t let go.
“In the overtime? We never regrouped,” Tortorella said. “It was a surge. We couldn’t stop it.
Still, the Rangers had their chances. They scored on a Ryan McDonough slap shot with 1.3 seconds left in the second period to tie the game. They scored just 14 seconds into the third and had a lead. But Torey Krug scored his first career playoff goal in his first career playoff game two minutes later on the power play, tying the game, 2-2.
“We were OK,” Tortorella said. “We’re going to need to be better. If we’re going to win our next game here we need to be better.”
Before getting outshot in overtime, Tortorella felt his team was hanging in with the Bruins on the road in Game 1. But Tortorella, like he normally does, put everything in perspective.
“I thought it was pretty even going into the overtime,” Tortorella said. “But we got spanked in the overtime.”
|Claude Julien: Bruins ‘don’t have to redeem themselves for anything’||05.16.13 at 1:39 pm ET|
Claude Julien isn’t apologizing for his team’s miracle in Game 7 Monday night that has them opening an Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Rangers.
He also doesn’t want his team apologizing for being there either.
“For some reason, this last series seems to have been looked upon as negative for some people,” Julien said after Thursday’s pre-game skate at TD Garden, hours before Game 1 with the Rangers.
“For us, it was a great character win, we’re looking forward to moving ahead and we’re not looking at it the way a lot of people are looking at it. It’s not a chance to redeem yourself because we’re in the second round, we don’t have to redeem ourselves for anything. What we have to do here is look forward to this series and do whatever we can to move ahead. The character win that this team showed in Game Seven should be looked upon as a positive. That’s the way I look at it.”
One thing is for certain, no one is going to feel sorry for the Bruins having three injured defenseman heading into the series. With Andrew Ference, Dennis Seidenberg and Wade Redden all missing Thursday’s skate, it’s high likely that Dougie Hamilton, Torey Krug and Matt Bartkowski will all play in Game 1 against the Rangers Thursday night.
The one advantage of it all, though, is the fact that two of the three, Krug and Bartkowski, have played the same defensive system with AHL Providence this year.
“It helps everybody because [Providence Head Coach] Bruce Cassidy and his coaching staff seem to see the game the same way we do,” Julien said. “There’s a good connection there in the way we coach our teams, very much the same approach. I know I’ve talked to Bruce; the things we do, he does as well.
Read the rest of this entry »
|Bruins Thursday notes: Nathan Horton OK, David Krejci loves being ‘unpredictable’ and Tuukka Rask ‘in the zone’||05.09.13 at 3:46 pm ET|
The Bruins held an optional skate on Thursday at TD Garden, with optional being the key word. David Krejci and Dougie Hamilton were among several Bruins in the tunnel outside their dressing room playing soccer but other than that there was no on-ice activity as the Bruins rest after their Game 4 victory over the Leafs that leaves them one win from the second round.
Coach Claude Julien confirmed that Nathan Horton is OK after taking a vicious body blow on a forecheck from Dion Phaneuf that led to Krejci’s game-winner in overtime Wednesday night. Horton is expected to be ready and play Game 5 Friday night at TD Garden.
Julien covered a number of topics on Thursday, including the play of Krejci, the nerves of steel of Tuukka Rask and what makes the Bruins so much fun to coach at this time of year.
Here were his answers in Thursday’s Q & A with reporters at TD Garden.
On if after the game he realized how good of a game last night was: “Yes, I do. I said it [Wednesday] night, I said it this morning to the guys. It shouldn’t be looked at who’s an experience team, who’s a young team, who’s this, who’s that; it should be viewed as two teams playing really good hockey right now. There’s a lot of teams that Leafs squad would have beat playing the way they did and we’re, when I say fortunate, that we played well enough and found a way to score that overtime goal to get that win, because it was a real good game that could have gone either way.”
On the mentality heading into a possible clinching game: “You’ve got to play your best game because we know how hard it to close. That’s the thing you hope your players realize extremely well after all the experiences we’ve had throughout the years. We now know how hard it is to close and no reason for us to come out tomorrow and not play as hard, if not harder, than we did last night.
On how important it is to come out hard and set a tone Friday night: “No matter what, we came out, I thought we came out well last night and we were down 2-0. It wasn’t because we didn’t have a good period, it was circumstances that one was a bit of a missed assignment, but a nice good goal on their part. The other one was just an unfortunate break on our part because Tuukka [Rask] was screened until the last second. I really felt we played well enough and came out in the second and regained ourselves and got ourselves back in the game.
“It’s just a matter of making sure you’re ready, you know how hard to start. Everybody says, ‘Well, you’ve got to come out hard,’ both teams have to come out hard. The most important thing is you’ve got to be ready to play, not just a period, or have a good start, but play the whole
game, not just in a physical way, but a mental way.”
On if the other lines are way behind the David Krejci line right now: “I think it’s pretty obvious that that the line is leading the way right now. Bergy [Patrice Bergeron] scores a goal last night, it as on the power play. I think Bergy’s played well, I thought Tyler [Seguin] played extremely well here in Boston and that line was actually good, but I don’t think Tyler played his best, and neither did Brad [Marchand], in Toronto. They’ve got a chance to redeem themselves here, but the other lines have, at some point, produced, as well. But Krejci’s line is, no doubt, the dominant line, I think that’s the biggest thing. We saw that ‘ I feel like I’m repeating myself ‘ a few years back when I thought [Chris] Kelly, [Rich] Peverley, and [Michael] Ryder were a dominant in the Montreal series, and then other lines picked it up afterwards. At the end of the day, it’s a matter of always having somebody doing something to help us win hockey games and, so far, that’s what’s been happening.”
On what changes occur in Krejci’s game when the postseason comes around: “Well, some people like playing in these situations and we’ve seen those in the past from other players on other teams. He’s a playoff performer, he loves the intensity, the excitement of it. He comes up big in those kinds of situations. It’s always nice to have those kinds of players on your team and, so far, David’s always been a good playoff performer for us. It’s a good thing he’s on our team.”
On what it is about Tuukka Rask’s temperament that allows him to shine in situations like overtime: “Well, I think right now that Tuukka is calm, he’s in the zone, he’s not getting too high, not getting too low. All he wants to do is stop the puck. He’s been pretty good and he is temperamental at times, we’ve seen that side of it, too, when he’s not happy with either a situation or himself. But at the same time, right now, he understands how important it is to stay focused and he’s done a great job of that.”
On how much more dangerous Krejci is when he is shooting the puck: “It makes him unpredictable. When he’s not shooting and he’s not, maybe, at the top of his game, often you’ll see him looking to pass, now he’s taking whatever is given to him; sometimes it’s a pass, sometimes it’s a shot. He’s confident. Right now, everything about David is good; he’s been good on draws, he’s been good at scoring goals, he’s making great plays, he’s involved in the gritty areas, he’s been physical, he’s been all around such a great player. That’s what makes him good. Maybe, everybody would like to see him do that for 82 games, unfortunately, that’s not the case.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien: ‘You need breaks in the playoffs. … We scored on the opportunity given to us’||05.08.13 at 11:21 pm ET|
Minutes later, David Krejci took advantage of Dion Phaneuf taking out Nathan Horton in the Bruins’ end and went off on a break that ended in the game-winning goal in overtime as Boston beat Toronto, 4-3, at Air Canada Centre. Krejci’s hat trick produced a dramatic win that puts Boston up, 3-1, in the best-of-seven series, meaning the Bruins can clinch their first postseason series win since winning the Cup in 2011 with a win Friday night in Boston.
‘I think they definitely wanted to win this game for the sake of going back to Boston tied,” Julien said. “At the same time, we wanted to win this game as well to put ourselves in the position to just have to win one more game.
“In overtime it was about making sure we made plays and not pass up on shots. Rask made a great save there on Lupul. He was screened and stuck the glove out and made the save, and that was huge for us. There was a post there by Kessel. You need breaks in the playoffs and we got some in overtime and you make your own. We scored on the opportunity that was given to us.’
As for Krejci and his line in this playoff series, Julien couldn’t be happier.
‘Obviously, his line has been good through the whole series but tonight, David certainly was the guy shining and was on top of his game. He’s been a real good playoff performer for years for us and he continues to do that. There are just certain players that thrive on playoff hockey and he’s one of those guys.
‘There’s a couple of things. We know he’s a great playmaker. He’s a great skill player but the other part is he doesn’t shy away from traffic, he doesn’t shy away from a physical game. He’s very gritty when he needs to be gritty. If he’s got one weakness, it’s that he’s very hard on himself at times when things aren’t going well. But when you see him play like that, not sure you want to call it a weakness because when he does find his game, he’s a pretty dominant player.’ Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien has the back of Jaromir Jagr: ‘That was vintage Jagr’||05.06.13 at 11:09 pm ET|
Everyone knew Jaromir Jagr was due to break out.
He picked a very good time to do exactly that as Claude Julien had his patience in the 41-year-old superstar rewarded in Monday’s 5-2 win over the Leafs in Game 3 of their first-round series at Air Canada Centre.
Heading into Game 3, the line of Jagr, Rich Peverley and Chris Kelly hadn’t done much. They were struggling to find a rhythm in the first two games. Jagr was weakened heading into the playoffs by flu-like symptoms, cutting down on the amount of time he could spend generating any type of chemistry with teammates.
That changed 5:57 into the second period when he stripped the puck behind the Leafs net and found Peverley all alone in front of James Reimer for the goal that made it 2-0 Bruins.
“It’s my job to make the excuses, and I made the excuses for them because I felt it was right,” Julien said. “Jags hasn’t been feeling that great and he had to turn a corner here and, at the same time, he had new line mates that hadn’t played much together so it’s just a matter of giving him some time. Sometimes, you have to be patient and I’m more of a patient guy that I am someone who’s going to panic, and tonight it paid off because I thought they were a real good line for us.
“It speaks a lot to Jags. It doesn’t matter how old he is or how long he’s been in the league. It doesn’t matter how much he’s accomplished. He’s a real proud competitor and he takes everything at heart. And the fact that he hadn’t been doing as much as he would’ve like to because of circumstances, he was determined to be a difference-maker tonight and help our team. I thought he did a great job. And the other two guys were a lot more comfortable with him tonight. And again, talking and practicing together certainly helped. He’s strong on the puck, and I know every time he has it, they need one or two guys on him to take it away and that means somebody’s open. He does a great job of that and I thought he was on top of his game tonight.” Read the rest of this entry »
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