|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.”
|Gregory Campbell: ‘We’re just going to have to do it the hard way again’||03.17.12 at 5:37 pm ET|
Anyone in attendance Saturday could most certainly sense the urgency from the Bruins from the opening puck drop with the Flyers. The Bruins have slumped big time in the last two months, falling out of first place in the Northeast Division, heading into their game against Philly. A win would put them a point back ahead of Ottawa, at least for the time being.
But the unfortunate part for the Bruins is that it had to come to this.
“Unfortunately, every game is big for us now,” Gregory Campbell said after the Bruins survived in a 3-2 shootout win over the Flyers. “We’ve gotten ourselves into a situation where we’re battling for position with Ottawa now, and a couple of other different teams. We want that home-ice advantage. With 11 games left, we’re unfortunately in a situation where every game is important. And I think you can look at that as a positive because we have to be at our best now, and going into the playoffs, that’s something that’s going to benefit our team.
“Tonight was big for us but one game at a time is our motto right now.”
There was a lot of talk afterward about maintaining the intensity the Bruins showed Saturday for the remaining 11 regular season games so that they have the right chemistry and momentum. The question is: Do the Bruins have enough steam to fulfill that mission and have enough left for another playoff grind?
“There’s a lot of leadership in this room,” Campbell said. “Everybody knows how to win. This team has been in some corners before and we’ve gotten out of them. It hasn’t been easy all year. And we gained a lot of experience and confidence from last year in the things we went through. We’re just going to have to do it the hard way again, take it one game at a time and one period at a time.”
|Bruins can’t wait for their next test: Sidney Crosby and the East-leading Penguins||12.05.11 at 10:42 am ET|
It’s the perfect test at the perfect time.
The Bruins have rebounded from a 3-7-0 start and are the hottest team in the NHL. They have 13 of 14 and are unbeaten in regulation since Oct. 29 in Montreal.
The Penguins are the top team in the East and have been the best team in the conference since the start of the season.
Now the top two teams in the conference meet in tonight in Pittsburgh.
“It’s going to be a great challenge for us,” said Chris Kelly, who scored the game-winner on Saturday night. “They are playing extremely well. They have their best player back and he seems like he hasn’t missed a beat. It will be an exciting game for us.”
Of course, the “best player” to whom Kelly refers is Sidney Crosby. He returned from his post-concussion symptoms on Nov. 21 with two goals in a 5-0 win over the Islanders. He hasn’t scored since but he does have 10 assists and the Pens are 5-1-1 in the seven games with him back in the lineup.
“It’s going to be a big game,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “We haven’t faced them this season yet. Obviously they’ve got a healthy team now. I’m sure it’s going to be a good game.”
Tonight marks the first of four games between the last two Eastern Conference teams who have won the Stanley Cup. The Penguins won on Detroit’s home ice in Game 7 in 2009 while the Bruins accomplished the same feat back on June 15 in Vancouver.
Is this is a “measuring stick” game for the defending champion B’s?
“I think we’re approaching- we’ve got the right mind set going into every game right now,” new pugilist Joe Corvo said. “I feel like we’re playing the same way every game and we’re being super consistent and if we don’t at some point in the game, it gets corrected. I think it’s obviously a good test, they’re in first place so it’ll be an exciting game.”
With a regulation win, the Bruins will be just one point out of the top spot in the East, 15 games after being in the cellar.
“We want to get up there in the standings and this is a game for first place so it’s going to be a big one,” David Krejci said.
There will be no rest after the game, either. The Bruins hop on a plane and go halfway across the continent for a Tuesday night game in Winnipeg.
|Claude Julien hopes his team is ‘heading in the direction’ of the Red Wings||12.04.11 at 12:36 pm ET|
For all the talk of a Stanley Cup “hangover” following a 3-7-0 start, the Bruins are in the midst of one of the best early-season runs any defending champ has had in recent memory.
The numbers are remarkable.
A 10-game winning streak, points in 14 straight games, and a 13-0-1 mark in those 14 contests.
They dispatched of their division rival Maple Leafs, 4-1, on Saturday at the Garden, sweeping the home-and-home series. They have manhandled the Leafs, 24-6, in winning all four games this season.
What’s next for this powerhouse?
How about doing it year-after-year? That’s what Claude Julien is thinking, just like the Red Wings, the only team to beat the Bruins in this remarkable stretch, the day after Thanksgiving.
“As a coach you are always afraid you’re going to peak to early and then when things start going bad, it will take a while to get yourself back on track But I feel differently about this because of the, I guess the sentiment in the room and the feeling is we’re not taking anything for granted,” Julien said. “We’re staying poised, we’re not getting cocky, we’re not getting complacent, we’re still focused and that’s the part I like. And again, that’s probably from experience and we’ve seen other teams in the past and we talk about the Red Wings and every year they come back strong and maybe we are a team heading in that direction.”
But the Bruins don’t have to wait until possible rematch with the Red Wings in the Cup finals for their next big test. That’ll be Monday night in Pittsburgh against the East-leading Penguins with a now-healthy Sidney Crosby back and powering his team.
|Brad Marchand: ‘It’s a little tougher out there’ after signing contract||11.11.11 at 9:12 am ET|
Before scoring two goals in Thursday’s 6-3 win over the Oilers, Brad Marchand had just one goal since his power play score on opening night against the Flyers.
There was some thought that maybe – just maybe – he was putting pressure on himself to produce after signing his two-year, $5 million contract extension in mid-September.
“I don’t want to change my game, change how I play,” Marchand said, before admitting he’s now a focal point of defenses. “It’s a little tougher out there. You have to face [expectations] but, for the most part, I just want to play the same way.”
The chances were certainly there throughout the first 13 games. But he had just two goals and five assists to show for his work.
On Thursday, those chances turned into goals, two to be exact, as Marchand took a little time to exhale.
“Yeah, definitely,” he said. “It was nice to get the monkey off the back it was definitely getting frustrating, missing a lot of opportunities, so it was nice to get a couple.
“I think the big thing was keep it a little more simple and getting pucks to the net. I was getting a lot of opportunities and they just weren’t going in. And if you keep pushing and keep getting opportunities then eventually something is going to go in and that’s what happened.”
Now, the Bruins are back at .500 at 7-7-0 and Marchand hopes his game will ride the momentum of the team’s four-game winning streak.
“Definitely, it’s nice to get back to .500 here and obviously we are a little ways from where we want to be and where we should be, but we’re definitely taking steps forward,” he said.
Does he feel he is out of a scoring slump?
“I don’t know it’s just one game, you have to keep going forward and keep things simple and hopefully they keep going in,” he said. “I just got a little luck out there. That’s how it goes sometimes. I went longer spurts last year without scoring goals and it’s just how it goes. Things go up and down. You can’t get too high or too low. It’s hockey.”
|Milan Lucic agrees with Claude Julien: B’s took the game ‘way too lightly’||10.10.11 at 4:57 pm ET|
It was pretty apparent, even before Claude Julien called out his team before reporters in a post-game press conference, that the Bruins were fairly disgusted with their performance in a 1-0 loss to the Avalanche that wasted a brilliant performance by Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins managed 30 shots on Semyon Varlamov, but not enough sustained pressure. When they got great chances, including Lucic with just under six minutes to go in the game, they couldn’t finish.
“Well, they played well, you have to give them credit,” Lucic said. “But on our part, we took today’s game way too lightly. We lost most of the battles, they were first on pucks. Regardless of if we were the champs last year or not, the major areas on the ice, they wanted the puck more than us. And that’s why we weren’t able to generate enough to get that goal.
“We created some pretty good chances, just have to find a way to bear down on them.”
In their losses to the Flyers and Avalanche, the Bruins could not do two basic things essential to winning hockey and their Cup run of last spring: Control the puck and win physical battles.
“Yeah, it seemed like we were chasing a lot and they were just chipping past us and going,” Lucic said. “And we were a step late, a second late here a step late, a second late over there. And that’s basically what happens. I talked about being first to the puck and winning battles and we didn’t have enough of that. Good for four periods and need to work on the rest.”
|Claude Julien knows it’s time to put champagne bottles down||10.07.11 at 2:02 pm ET|
Now, Claude Julien can simply get back to coaching his team and getting them ready for a regular season Saturday night game in October.
He – and every Bruins player – admitted following Thursday night’s 2-1 loss to the Flyers that the season-opener was anything but regular or ordinary.
Now, with Steven Stamkos and the Lightning coming to town for a battle Saturday at TD Garden, it’s time to treat the game like 1-of-82.
“We’re basically all looking forward to it,” Julien said. “As you know, if you go to a party and you stay until four or for two, three days, after a while, you get tired of it, right? The bottles of champagne are empty, so it’s time to go home. I think that’s how we feel right now. We’ve had a great time with it this summer, we’ve had some great experiences, but right now, we basically would like to re-do this, and we know there’s a lot of work and a lot of things that have to come into play before that happens. We need to turn the page.” Read the rest of this entry »
- Chara owns, and is a fantastic captain
- Fresh Links: The Kids Are Alright Edition
- Friday Morning Skate: All Glory to the Hypno Claude
- Game 1 Gif Recap: Marchand, Big Z, and the Rookie D. Bruins win it in OT.
- Public Skate: Bruins vs. Rangers Game 1, Third Period
- Public Skate: Bruins vs. Rangers Game 1, Second Period
- Public Skate: Bruins vs. Rangers Game 1, 7:30PM ET