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Claude Julien has his hands full !

Claude Julien has his hands full !

By Kevin Harriman
BSD Publisher

Bruins host Red Wing tonight

Bruins host Red Wing tonight

Love him or hate him, B’s coach Claude Julien has his hands full right now. Julien is dealing with a group of players, whom my co-worker (Kevin M. Flanagan) has classified as schizophrenic. Not easy to deal with under any circumstances.

Even harder to deal with when you have a Home record of 1-5-1 and a road record of 6-2-0.

There are tangible reasons why the Bruins have lost games at home this season. But the root of them goes much deeper. It doesn’t take a genius to point to the horrible penalty kill, the turnovers at the worst time and an ineffective blue line.

But if you peel away the exterior crud, you find lack of mental toughness, lack of heart and determination. A far cry from the days of the Big Bad Bruins. Those teams didn’t always have the talent, but you could always count on opposing teams leaving Causeway Street, battered and bruised, win or lose.

In fairness to Julien, coaching up mental toughness, heart and determination isn’t happening. His job is to get this team ready to play and to motivate on a nightly basis. Give him a check in both categories. This team starts well with determination, actually gets a lead and then the shit hits the fan.

You can measure height, weight, speed agility and how fast you can shoot the puck. But the other intangibles, those fall on the GM and upper management when drafting, making trades and signing free agents to bring into the locker room.

Don’t blame Julien for the disaster that is the 2015-16 .500 Bruins. The blame lays at the office doors on the 2nd floor at TD Garden.


On if he has to take extra steps to mentally prepare the team…
Well I mean you have to address it. I think that’s the number one criteria right now of our issue but…I can’t be in each and every players head. It’s up to them to take the responsibility to focus for longer than what we have been focused in some of these games. So it’s about, you know, being prepared to put in 60 minutes of hockey. And when you dissect it, you know, you’re talking about 24 minutes to even 10 minutes of hockey, so that’s not that hard to do. I think that’s what we have to realize here, that there’s a certain way that we play and when we play that way we’re successful when we don’t we’re not. So they just have to, I guess, embrace the idea of that and do it properly for the amount of time that they play and if we do that we’re going to improve as a team.

On why the penalty kill has improved …
Well there’s attention to detail, I think. You know there’s a committed group and well for a long time I think we were a little bit on our heels, which right now instead of being on our heels we’re a little bit more committed to doing it right and determined to do it right. So you know these last two games hopefully we’ve gained the confidence and the understanding of what it’s going to take to be a lot better. And you know I’ve liked our penalty kill and even the last game in the four power plays we gave them no scoring chances. So that’s what you want to see.

On how he feels about Zac Rinaldo playing in the penalty kill…
Well yeah I think he’s got good speed, so he’s a player that can certainly put some pressure up-ice when we send the puck down there and he certainly has the ability to come back to position after he does that, you know. In the zone he’s been pretty good. As you know we’re working with him too and trying to make him even better but he has all the tools I think and all the potential to be a good penalty killer. So we’re really having a real strong look at him right now.

On if Colin Miller is available tonight…
No, we’re going to keep him out tonight.

On why the team has been able to be successful against the Detroit Red Wings…
Well we’ve played well against them. I think there’s a big amount of respect that goes toward that team because of their skating ability, because of their skill ability with the puck, you know there’s a lot of experience there, they’ve always been a good team and they continue to be a good team. I think there’s been a real great amount of respect so that we’ve prepared ourselves in regard to that. And we know we have to have our A game. You know we’ve been able to have, more or less, our A games against them, you know, or beat them. And that’s been probably the biggest key to trying to beat the [Detroit] Red Wings.

On playing another team that is playing a back-to-back game…
Well to me those back-to-backs to me mean absolutely nothing right now. I mean we’ve played back-to-back and you know we’ve handled those back-to-backs well. We’ve won both I think, our second game in two nights and won three of the four. So guys are in good shape now, they’re not skating this morning they’re at the hotel or whatever getting some rest and preparing for tonight so there’s no issues there. So there’s no reason there for us to even think that, you know, we’re going to take advantage of that because I think it’s more about how are we going to play our game and wear them out as the game goes on but I don’t think it will have anything to do with the fact that they played last night.

On if Colin Miller is considering an injured player now…
No I think it’s more being cautious…he is injured but being cautious. I think in certain situations he could have played.

On if it’s an upper or lower body injury…
Everything [laughs]. Lower.

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