Haggerty: Julien making all the right moves


Haggerty: Julien making all the right moves

By JoeHaggerty BruinsInsider Follow@hackswithhaggs
BOSTON Claude Julien would be wise to head to Vegas once the season is over. If he can keep this hot streak going, the getting will be good.

The Bruins coach has pushed all the proper buttons, pulled all the right levers and made all the right moves in the Stanley Cup Final since the series returned to Boston. In general, Julien has had himself a solid postseason with a few key decisions and adjustments that helped the Bruins get to within two wins of their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.

But hes been particularly on point in the last four games. He's made two choices in each of the last two wins that paid immediate dividends:

1) He went with his head and his heart in playing Shawn Thornton during Game 3 to give his team an emotional lift and a dose of much-needed attitude.

2) He rolled the dice a little by taking a chance on Rich Peverley on Bostons top line in Game 4, and Peverley rewarded the decision with a pair of goals.

It would seem Julien is enjoying the Midas touch over the last few games, and hell need to continue if the Bruins are going to bag themselves a road win. While making sure to give a great deal of the credit to the players for the position that the Bruins find themselves in, Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli also points to Julien.

Everything is magnified in the Finals, said Chiarelli. "The last change -- the significance of the last change is huge, so its something we have to battle. But I have confidence in our coach and I have confidence in my players. Those guys have been battling and thats a testament to the team."

Julien is doing a good job, and the players are playing too. This is a collective thing. Ill give credit to Claude for mixing and matching, but the players are also doing terrific in accepting the roles that theyre being placed in."

Chiarelli continued: You bring Thornton in and he brings some energy. In Game 4 I really liked Tyler Seguins game. He battled for a few pucks and made a nice pass on the Michael Ryder goal. Its a cross-ice pass and he was going the other way, so thats a difficult play to make. Claude is making good decisions and the players are responding well.

While Julien could crow about the successful moves to play Thornton or promote Peverley or the idea to pair Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg together after Game 2 of the first round against the Montreal Canadiens with the Bs down 0-2 in that series he'd have to admit paying mind to those ubiquitous critics first. Thats something Julien just isnt going to do anytime soon. He's is happy to go about his way while holding the ultimate respect of his players for four years running in Boston.

Its difficult to have coaching longevity in the NHL, but thats exactly what Julien is building with the Bruins.

I dont hear the criticism. I really dont, said Julien. I stay away that stuff. I need to come to the rink with a clear head. I discuss obviously all the stuff thats done. Its not just about me. Its a coaching staff, management and stuff like that.

We talk about different things. Of course, the final decision always goes to the coach. But its not like its all about me. I dont really hear about it and I dont know about it unless you guys remind me.

One reason Julien isnt hearing too much criticism right now: There's none to be had after he has coached a couple of great games in Boston to even up the series.

Of course, the story could change depending on how Game 5 goes. But if Julien can continue to have the Midas touch for two games, his legacy as championship-caliber decision-maker will be written.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe


Bruins hope to keep cooking with a winning recipe

The Bruins seemed to discover a winning formula on the West Coast. Now the challenge is to keep it going.

It took them more than a month of play in the regular season, but they finally won two games in a row. Anton Khudobin and the B's played strong defense and finally built leads against the Kings and Sharks, and they avoided the kind of soft goal or defensive mistake that has been at the heart of so many of their losses.

Clearly that kind of tight, defensive game is how they're going have to play until they get their full lineup back, and they need plenty of wins. They're currently stuck in 13th place in the Eastern Conference, three points out of a playoff spot.

"It's always nice to get a couple of wins, especially against tough teams," said David Krejci, who is scoreless but averaging almost 17 minutes of ice time  in the two games since returning from a back injury. "We knew we had some areas of our game that we had to improve, and we still do after the start to the game we had against San Jose. It's nice to get two in a row, and we're focusing on three in [New Jersey]. We're building toward something, and we're on the right track. It's a big game [against the Devils].

"Playing with a lead, playing good defensively and having a good, structured game with everybody buying in . . . when you have a young team and you're playing strong clubs like LA and San Jose, it really says a lot about what we're trying to do here when you can get the job done."

The good news is the Bruins are going to make it through the Thanksgiving marker within shouting distance of a playoff spot, but they're still just scratching the surface of what they need to do to stay relevant in the East. They're hoping that finally reeling off a couple of consecutive wins can start a run of good hockey at a time when they desperately need it.

"I think we've played as a five-man unit" said Kevan Miller. "Forwards are getting back to help the 'D', and defensemen are stepping up to help the forwards. When you play like that and everybody is on the same page, it makes it that much easier. I think everybody, whether you're coming from Providence or you're up here, has played the same systems, but it can be a little bit of a struggle to get everybody on the same page.

"We've done a pretty good job of that, but doing it for 60 minutes has been a bit of an issue. We're trying to work on that."


Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game


Grzelcyk happy to be back w/ B's and confident in his game

BRIGHTON, Mass – It had to be a bitter pill for Matt Grzelcyk to be sent back down to the AHL after playing solidly for the Bruins earlier this season. 

The 23-year-old Charlestown native was excellent playing in place of Torey Krug in Boston’s opening night win over the Nashville Predators, but his stay didn’t last very long. The former Boston University standout was back in the minor leagues shortly afterward once Krug returned from his fractured jaw a little earlier than expected. Now Krug is again banged up again with an upper body injury, and Grzelcyk has been called up to fill in for Krug during Wednesday night’s pre-Thanksgiving road game in New Jersey against the Devils.

Once again it will be about a focus on puck-moving and power play for Grzelcyk, who is the closest thing that the Bruins have to the smaller, skilled Krug in their minor-league system. 

“I was happy with how things went before I got sent to Providence, so I’m just going to try to do the things that I was doing well before I got sent down. Mentally knowing that I can play at the NHL level [is huge], and just going through the experience was positive,” said Grzelcyk. “Mentally my first year I think I was a little too nervous and tentatively with my play, and that’s not me at all when I’m at my best. I’m confident with the puck, and confident with my speed and ability. It was just about going out and doing it on the ice.”

Grzelcyk was okay down in Providence with four assists and a plus-4 rating in 14 games, but he’s been patiently waiting for another NHL call since logging 12:11 of solid puck-moving ice time in his lone appearance for Boston this season. Now he’ll get it in a likely pairing with Kevan Miller against the New Jersey Devils

“He’s a puck-mover. He’s quick. He can get up the ice and support the rush, and he’s a good distributor,” said Cassidy of Grzelcyk. “There are a lot of natural similarities to Torey [Krug] because of their physical makeup, but they are similar [players] with Torey at this level being a bit more significant offensive player. Whether it’s in [Grzelcyk] or not time will tell, but we believe it is and we just need to get it out of him.”

Grzelcyk will get a chance to show that offensive wrinkle and more when he suits up against the New Jersey Devils for his second game of the season after paying his dues with the P-Bruins overt the last month.