Marchand: 'Claude isn't the issue'; speculation about job 'media driven'

Marchand: 'Claude isn't the issue'; speculation about job 'media driven'

BOSTON – Credit the Bruins for avoiding the bad feelings and uncomfortable questions that could have been there if they’d dropped the final two games into the NHL All-Star break.


Instead they snapped a season-worst four game losing streak with an overtime win against the Red Wings, and Thursday night’s entertaining, emotionally engaged 4-3 win over the defending Stanley Cup champ Pittsburgh Penguins at TD Garden. So at least for now the storm clouds have scattered away from Causeway Street, and the seat isn’t quite so warm for Claude Julien after some touch-and-go moments over the last couple of weeks.

There has still been no vote of confidence or public show of support from Julien’s bosses as Don Sweeney and Cam Neely remain silent on the subject, and that is the only thing that’s truly going to quell the speculation about the B’s coach. But Brad Marchand gave his own vote of confidence for the only NHL head coach he’s ever known, and indicated his belief that the speculation about Julien’s job security is “media driven.”

“The speculation is driven by the media. They don’t have the sources that they may claim. You know, that’s not going to happen if they do their jobs. Claude isn’t the issue. You fire the coach, what do you do? It’s not going to change anything. Claude’s one of the best coaches of the game, and that’s not the answer for this group,” said Marchand. “It’s driven by the media, and we’re not concerned about that in the room. We don’t think that’s going to happen, and we’re not thinking about that for a second. So you can put that to bed and let it go now because that’s not in this room.”

It’s a credit to Julien that he inspires that kind of loyalty from a player in Marchand that can also be the target of his criticism at times, but Marchand’s endorsement doesn’t carry much weight since he doesn’t call the shots with the coaching position. In fairness, it’s also not a “driven by the media” issue as much as it’s a “driven by the underperformance of the team” issue based on where they are in the standings barely clinging to a playoff spot right now.

The bottom line is this: The Bruins did well by Julien in finishing up strong with two wins headed into the All-Star break to calm down the waters, but they’ll need to win a lot more and push forward into a strong playoff position if they want to keep it that way. 

Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues

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Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues

Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal of the game 30 seconds into overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

Schwartz skated up the middle and fired a shot past Anton Khudobin. The Blues won for the fifth time in six games to move within a point of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Jake Allen made 21 saves to improve to 24-21-2.

Ryan Donato scored for Boston. The Bruins clinched a playoff spot and moved within four points of Tampa Bay for the Eastern lead.

Schwartz tied it midway through the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

Donato scored his second goal in his second NHL game. He had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 loss to Columbus on Monday night.

Donato, still a student at Harvard University, returned to Massachusetts on Tuesday to attend class before flying back to St. Louis to rejoin the Bruins. His father, Ted, played 528 games in two stints with the Bruins (1992-99, 2003-04).

Donato, who played for the U.S. Olympic team last month, drilled a shot past Allen. A clearing attempt by Alex Piertrangelo hit referee Brad Watson and the pick bounced right to Donato.

Boston, which has a game in hand on Tampa Bay, joined Nashville and Tampa Bay as only teams to have clinched playoff spots.


Boston was without seven key players:- C Patrice Bergeron (fractured left foot), D Charlie McAvoy (left knee), D Zdeno Chara (upper body), LW Jake DeBrusk (upper body), RW David Backes (right leg laceration), D Torey Krug (upper body) and LW Rick Nash (upper body). They have combined for 101 goals and 161 assists.

NOTES:- St. Louis RW Vladimir Tarasenko missed his second successive game after taking an elbow to the face against the New York Rangers on Saturday. ... The Bruins have least one point in 12 of their last 15 games against St. Louis. ... Only three Boston players - RW David Pastrnak, C Tim Schaller and C Sean Kuraly - have played in every game this season.


Bruins: At Dallas on Friday night in the second game of a four-game trip.

Blues: Host Vancouver on Friday night.

Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

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Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

The Bruins have managed to take three of a possible six points since Zdeno Chara went down in the third period of last week's comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes, and they've done it completely without their top pairing since Charlie McAvoy has also been out all this time.

There are a number of factors behind the ability to withstand the injuries, of course, and the entire defense corps was stellar at both ends in the shutout win over Tampa Bay last weekend.


But it's Torey Krug who's really stepped up his game. He had three assists and 15 shots on net in those three games, and was immense in the win over the Lightning.

Krug has surpassed the 50-point plateau for the second straight season, a major accomplishment for a defenseman who prides himself on his puck-moving and power-play work.

"You know, he has [stepped up]," coach Bruce Cassidy said of Krug, adding: "Torey is always going to get his numbers, but he's really added to it 5-on-5 . . . [It] was comforting to see that [without Chara and McAvoy] we shut out one of the best teams [in the NHL], at home, that was rested. You've got to take something out of that. It was one of 82 [games], but that was a real positive for our guys."

For Krug, the challenge of stepping up and being a leader in the team's time of need is the kind of thing he takes pride in responding to with an elevated level of play.

"I'm in the business of winning hockey games and helping my team win," said Krug. "It falls on my shoulders to produce some offense from the back end. And [when] we're missing a couple of guys from the back end that do that push the pace, then you've got to step up and make some plays. When you play with a lot of great players then you'll get your points, and you just need to worry about the defensive zone first.

"We're confident in everybody in this room. A lot of people think that the guys on our back end can't get the job done, so for us to step up [is a good thing]."


The biggest sign of Krug's increased responsibility? He topped 26 minutes of ice time in two of the three games since Chara was injured. Only once before, when he was on the ice for 27-plus minutes against the Rangers in early November, has he played more than that.

The loss of Chara and McAvoy has forced Krug to go above and beyond his normal range of duties and he's stepped up and embraced it. That's what good players on good teams do, and it's something Krug has consistently done in the big moments since arriving in Boston five years ago.