Relaxed Julien gives them a break
Claude Julien, beaming Saturday night in the moments after his Bruins pinned a 3-2 shootout loss on the Blackhawks in Chicago, declared yesterday a day off for his defending Stanley Cup winners.
The victory was also Julien's 300th in the NHL, discounting, of course, those 37 Ws in the playoffs, 16 in the memorable spring run of 2011.
So what to do after a solid evening in an Original Six city?
"Take a day off, I guess," said the smiling Julien. "No practice; go to church."
Faith in Julien certainly paid off for general manager Peter Chiarelli and Co.
Chiarelli stuck with the kindly old-school coach last season, when there were well-founded suspicions along Causeway Street that he could be sent packing if the Bruins again didn't make it beyond, say, Round 2 of the playoffs. But by mid-June, Julien, the former minor league backliner, was the first Cup-winning coach around here since Tom Johnson led his '72 Bruins to the championship.
Now, at age 51, Julien has a more relaxed, patient persona, especially in his dealings with media members, with whom he now seems to enjoy trading insights and the occasional good-hearted jab. That's not to say he is the Bill Parcells of pucks, but thus far the one Cup on his career résumé has provided him a comfort level he hasn't shown since arriving here in June 2007.
The Bruins play only once on the road over the next three weeks and their next four games, all at the Garden beginning tomorrow night vs. the Hurricanes, will provide a veritable parade of ex-Bruins to Causeway Street. Former Black-and-Gold8ers Tomas Kaberle, Phil Kessel, Joe Thornton, and Hal Gill will visit in the upcoming games:
Tomorrow vs. Carolina - Kaberle's production out of the gate is even south of his 49 games (25 playoffs) in Black and Gold last season. He'll arrive on Causeway Street with a lackluster line of 0-1-1 and a minus-5 in five games, averaging 18 minutes 20 seconds of ice time. Not good. The 33-year-old backliner only had one goal while in the Hub, but he added 19 assists, including 11 in the postseason. He does have 12 shots in his five games with the Tropical Depressions, a big bump over his 49 games/64 shots here.
Thursday vs. Toronto - Ex-wunderkind Kessel, who turned 24 this month, is off to a blistering start (5-3-8) in three games, all victories. Two of his strikes have been game-winners. He improved his fitness level over the summer and now, in his sixth NHL season, looks as if he finally might become a point-per-game player. His linemates until the injured Tim Connolly returns: Joffrey Lupul and Tyler Bozak.
Saturday vs. San Jose - The Sharks, home against Anaheim tonight before embarking on a six-game road trip (the Hub is stop No. 2), have stumbled (1-2-0) at the start line. Jumbo Joe, who didn't become a point-per-game player until his fourth year in Boston, has gone a Full Thornton 0-0-0 thus far, averaging a beefy 20:52 TOI per game. Now 32, he is on target to play his 1,000th career game Friday night in New Jersey. The late Pat Burns, his first NHL coach and later a Cup winner with the Devils, would have been at The Rock for sure.
Oct. 27 vs. Montreal - Gill, now 36, is on target to play his 1,000th regular-season game Thursday in Pittsburgh, where he won a Cup with the Penguins in 2009. All in all, a tremendous run for the Bay State boy, selected 207th overall by the Bruins in 1993 out of Nashoba Regional High School. Pal Hal (Providence College '97) has yet to score a point in four games this season, but that's never been his game. He is big, reliable, and this year gets another chance to give Jaromir Jagr nightmares.
Meeting for McQuaid
Adam McQuaid, who didn't suit up in Chicago after exiting Wednesday night's game in Carolina after falling and developing head and neck pain, is expected to meet with the club's medical staff today. The Bruins suspect he suffered a concussion. If so, he likely won't make it back to the lineup until next week at the earliest ..... Julien said it's possible David Krejci, sidelined at the start of last week with a core injury, could be back this week ..... Nathan Horton delivered a tying goal in the third period Saturday night, but it was the power forward's only shot. For the Bruins to get on any kind of roll, they desperately need better performances from top-line wingers Milan Lucic (0-1-1) and Horton (1-1-2). With Michael Ryder (Dallas) and the retired Mark Recchi out of the mix, there is far less competition for jobs among the top six this season, and that could be why Horton and Lucic are not delivering. Free agent pickup Benoit Pouliot (0-0-0) also has contributed nothing in his four games. If he dresses, he'll oppose his former Habs teammates next week ..... Tim Thomas was his sharpest this season Saturday night in the shootout, snuffing out the likes of Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, and Patrick Sharp. "I don't like the shootout, I'm no fan of it," said Thomas, not alone in his goalie brotherhood with that opinion. "I know it's fun for the fans, but not for goalies. Sometimes, though, it's important how it turns out, and we needed a win, we didn't need just a point." ..... Tyler Seguin, who sniped in the shootout winner against Corey Crawford, is now 1-4-5, the only Bruin to average a point per game. Julien said Seguin likely will go back to a wing spot once Krejci returns, but one option would be for the sophomore to pivot the No. 3 line and have the versatile Chris Kelly bump either Pouliot or Jordan Caron to the sidelines ..... Top Boston backliners Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg, averaging about 25:00 TOI through five games, have 31 shots on net but have yet to get on the scoresheet.