Bruins

Julien plans on enjoying Game 7 handshake

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Julien plans on enjoying Game 7 handshake

WILMINGTON Claude Julien was feeling confident and even a little comical the day before a Game 7 that could decide the fate of his hockey season. He couldnt resist when asked a question about the traditional handshakes on the ice after a playoff series has ended.

Its a Stanley Cup playoff tradition that the two teams put aside the hate, the animosity, the cheap shots and the head shots when a series has been clinched. Nearly everyone takes to the ice to say good job to the opposition, win or lose.

So the Bruins coach was asked his thoughts about the handshake prior to Game 7, and the instant smirk revealed that a punch line was coming.

I plan on being the happy one tomorrow, Julien said with the confidence of a coach thats won three straight Game 7 do-or-die matches and five straight elimination games behind the Boston bench.

But, as Julien often does, he took the time to answer the question with some thought and perspective. There is something to be said for playoff hockey as the only one of the major four sports that lines players up for handshakes at the end of each playoff round.

"It all depends on the series," Julien said. "There is animosity, but as the same time there comes a time when you have to put those things aside and congratulate the team for their good effort and moving forward. Thats what Im hoping happens to our team tomorrow."

Milan Lucic has been involved with his share of hockey hate over the years, and he appreciates what the gesture represents.

It is hard. But I think its one of the things that gets overlooked in this sport, said Lucic. There is a respect for your opponent and for everyone to man up and shake your opponents hand. It goes to show that theres a lot of class in this game.

Win, lose or draw there shouldnt be too many issues with the Bruins and Capitals conducting their postgame handshakes whether its Boston or Washington that finds itself advancing after Wednesdays Game 7 tilt.

After all, if Patrice Bergeron can shake the hand of Alex Burrows after last years Stanley Cup Finals without worrying about the hungry Canucks forward taking a nibble, then everybody else should be ready to join in as well.

Bruins know they 'have to be better defensively' to close out Leafs

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File photo

Bruins know they 'have to be better defensively' to close out Leafs

TORONTO – The Bruins have scored less than three goals exactly once in their playoff series with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Offense really hasn’t been an issue against a Toronto team that can’t consistently stop the Black and Gold. No, it’s much more about defense and slowing down the Maple Leafs while keeping preventable goals out of the back of their net. 

Some of it is about effectively cutting down the transition, stretch passes that Toronto likes to use to kick-start their offense, and that’s about minimizing the risk-taking offensively while also taking care not to allow leaking, sneaking opponents behind their defense. Some of it is just about good, fundamental defense as the Bruins simply didn’t play 2-on-2 situations very well on rushes from the Toronto forwards in their Game 5 loss at TD Garden. 

All of it is about holding players like Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and Nazem Kadri in check as the Bruins have done for long stretches of the series with a steady diet of Zdeno Chara greeting the Leafs franchise center wherever he goes.

“In games like that we have to be a little better defensively,” said Brad Marchand, referring to Game 5’s defeat where they scored three goals. “We can’t expect to score five goals every game, so we can’t be giving up four [goals]. If we’re a little bit better there and continue to pepper away with the shots, hopefully things will work in our favor.”

Bruce Cassidy went through each of the first three goals allowed by the Bruins in their Game 5 loss last weekend, and each of them needed better “rush defense” executed by the Bruins. The first was a simple one-man rush into the zone by Matthews, the second was Andreas Johnsson getting behind the Bruins defense before connecting with Kadri on a perfect pass, and the third was a backbreaking Tyler Bozak score from the slot after the Bruins had just scored and grabbed momentum in the game. All of them arrived via Toronto’s speed and aggressive mindset entering the offensive zone, and that’s something Boston has stifled to a much more effective degree until Saturday night.  

“They make a play up the wall where we’re normally there to contest that, slide and have the appropriate adjustment between the forward and the ‘D.’ We didn’t slide until the rush. That will be addressed and was addressed. That’s what we need to do against Toronto when we have the numbers and we didn’t do it,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Then they won a puck at the net where we’re generally good there, but they got it to the net. Give them credit, they got it there. They got it to the net and won a battle by going to the dirty areas. 

“The second goal was a 2-on-2 and a good play, but still a 2-on-2. We need to defend it better from our end. From their end, it’s a nice play. The third goal was a quick up, we were a little late trying to kill it. … We were a little late in every area, we needed a save there and we didn’t get it. So those are the three goals I look at, and I look at the rush defense that could have been better.”

Given that the Bruins have scored 20 goals in the five playoff games vs. Toronto and hit the 40 shots on net three different times in the best-of-seven series, it’s about holding the Leafs down a little more effectively as they’ve done in their three wins. If the Bruins can play sound defense and once again slow down the Maple Leafs track meet on the ice, then it’s highly doubtful this series will be going back to Boston for a Game 7. 

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