|Claude Julien on motivating his team for playoffs: ‘I’m only a coach’||04.07.11 at 11:58 am ET|
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 »
|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|
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 »
The Bruins took a 1-0 lead in the first period, and all it took was 19:59.9 for them to grab it.
The Bruins’ energy line carried the load in the period, with Shawn Thornton capping the period with his 10th goal of the season. The B’s went on a two-man advantage at 7:03 thanks to penalties drawn by Daniel Paille and Thornton. Paille, who got the primary helper on Thornton’s goal, has had a couple of great chances, though former BU goalie Rick DiPietro has come up big for the Islanders.
According to ESPNChicago, Bruins forward Shawn Thornton was yelled at by a Blackhawks player to “get off the ice” as he skated by the Chicago bench last Tuesday upon being cut in the head by Fernando Pisani‘s skate.
Thornton reacted furiously after hearing something the bench and had to be restrained by referee Don VanMassenhoven.
“I heard someone say, ‘Get off the ice, get off the [expletive] ice,'” VanMassenhoven told ESPNChicago. “I don’t know who said it.”
Thornton, who ended up receiving approximately 40 stitches and missing three games, noted after the contest that VanMassenhoven was “pissed” with what was said.
The Bruins gave out their regular season awards prior to Wednesday night’s game. They are as follows:
Eddie Shore Award (exceptional hustle and determination): Shawn Thornton
Elizabeth Dufresne Award (outstanding performance in home games): Tim Thomas
John Bucyk Award (greatest off-ice charitable contributions): Andrew Ference
|Gameday notes: Shawn Thornton returns, Bruins hope they’ve learned their lesson from Rangers game||at 12:53 pm ET|
The Bruins’ morning skate was of the optional variety, so though Tim Thomas was the first goaltender off the ice, don’t be surprised to see either guy in net against the Islanders Wednesday. One would think Thomas figures to get the start in two of the Bruins’ three remaining games.
As for Shawn Thornton‘s return to the lineup, it will be interesting to see who ends up watching the game from the press box. Daniel Paille has made a real strong case to stay in the lineup, while Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder have not of late. Claude Julien noted that the team has “a couple” of decisions to make for Wednesday’s lineup, so how exactly it shakes out remains to be seen.
Here are some other notes from Wednesday:
– Julien said that the team has stopped talking about Monday’s ugly loss to the Rangers. The B’s blew a 3-0 lead, falling by a 5-3 score in a game that Julien hopes taught the team a lesson.
“When you blow a three nothing lead, especially after playing so well in the first half of the game, there’s a pretty good message there sent to your hockey club,” Julien said. “You hope that it’s utilized as a learning tool. There’s a lot of things that could have ended up a lot better had we respected the game plan and for the whole 60. I think we would have won that game. But something that sometimes you need to live through in order to get better. And those are lessons through the course of a season that teams go through and we’re no different.”
– The Islanders are 1-4-0 over their last five games, and that’s good news for a Bruins team that might be better off trying to win these final games after all. The Flyers lost on Tuesday night, so a win Tuesday would put the B’s within two points of second place with two games remaining for each team. It’s a bit of a pick-your-poison situation for the Bruins, as third place would currently match them up with the Canadiens, while second place would give them the Sabres.
Julien noted that given the team’s place in the standings, he might not focus so much on giving certain guys rest, stating that if you “look around the league, not too many players that have been given nights off” and that “depending on what’s going on in the standings and everything else, we can adjust accordingly.”
– Julien had an interesting answer when asked how he feels about his team heading into the playoffs, even pointing out the struggles of the Flyers.
“Everybody body looks for perfection and every little thing that doesn’t go well is going to be scrutinized and criticized. But you look around the league, I mean Vancouver has lost two games now to Edmonton, is there a panic there? Philadelphia is having a tough time,” he said. “I think once the playoffs start, the good teams are going to be ready to go, and we plan on being one of those.”
Bruins forward Shawn Thornton is expected to make his return to the lineup Wednesday when the B’s take on the Islanders at TD Garden. Thornton missed three straight games after suffering a gash above his right eye last Tuesday against the Blackhawks and receiving approximately 40 stitches. He had his stitches removed Tuesday and skated in the team’s optional morning skate on Wednesday.
“Thornton is probably going to end up coming into our lineup,” coach Claude Julien said Wednesday morning. “I think he’s ready to go. He’s had the stitches out, so we’ll make a couple other decisions just before the game.”
The B’s enforcer will be wearing the helmet he began wearing following the injury. Originally with a visor, Thornton had the shield removed but will still wear the new helmet because its padding is cut down, allowing more room around the scar. He did not want to cut into his regular helmet, an old CCM that he noted is “really hard to find,” out of fear of having trouble replacing the padding once the scar was better.
Prior to Thornton’s injury, he had not missed a single game all season, playing in the team’s first 76 games. He has a career-high nine goals and eight assists for a career-high 18 points on the season.
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