Julien calls idea Neely is trying to fire him 'foolish'


Julien calls idea Neely is trying to fire him 'foolish'

WILMINGTON – Bruins coach Claude Julien heard the report that club president Cam Neely was trying to get him fired last season, and called it “speculation” while stopping a bit short of actually calling it untrue. A report from the Boston Globe indicated Neely was angling to make a coaching change right around the ugly January 4 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes that spurred Charlie Jacobs to call the team’s performance “unacceptable.”

Julien said he feels like he was the full support of Neely and GM Don Sweeney as he enters his ninth season coaching the Bruins. The B’s bench boss also indicated that the new management group had ample chance to make a coaching change if that’s what they really wanted to do while making alterations this summer.

“That’s what has been out there. Is that the truth? That’s the biggest question. I guess that comment keeps coming back and I remember meeting with Cam about that … that 0-0 comment. It’s so long gone,” said Julien while addressing the Bruins media on Wednesday morning at Ristuccia Arena. “We’ve been together on the road and we’ve had drinks. We’ve spent time together, so it’s foolish to think a president is hovering over a coach’s head just waiting to fire him.”

“He’s had the power, I guess, to [fire me] and he didn’t. So I think that right there has got to tell you something. It's not an issue for me. Those things come out in different ways, and those are things you live with in this business. There is all kinds of speculation, but there is no concrete evidence.”

Julien is, of course, referring to the Neely comment from way back in an infamous 2010 interview with WAAF where he vented during a particularly frustrating stretch: “Goals against isn’t an issue — goals for is an issue,” Neely said on WAAF. “The power play is an issue. … I think the name of the game is that you still have to score one more goal than the other team. It’s not about trying to win 0-0.”

The Bruins went on to recover from those offensive woes and won the Stanley Cup that season, and helped create a secure place for Julien and GM Peter Chiarelli until they failed to qualify for the playoffs this spring for the first time since 2007. The Bruins coach said he feels secure with Neely and Sweeney to start this upcoming year, but there’s no way of knowing how long that will last for Julien once the season begins.

Brad Marchand 'not concerned' about how Bruins have looked in first few games

Brad Marchand 'not concerned' about how Bruins have looked in first few games

The Bruins certainly haven’t impressed anybody out of the gate thus far in dropping both of their games after a five-month layoff due to COVID-19.

They have been outscored 8-2 in losing both their exhibition game vs. the Blue Jackets and their opening round robin game against the Flyers, and there hasn’t been much to write home about it in either game.

David Pastrnak scored on a nice individual play vs. Columbus and Chris Wagner scrapped for a fourth line goal vs. Philly, but the Perfection Line has been quiet while the special teams haven’t been all that good either.

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Both goaltenders Tuukka Rask and Jaroslav Halak looked rusty between the pipes as well, so most of the team’s strengths during the regular season have been MIA thus far in the Toronto bubble. Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and Pastrnak had one shot on goal apiece until late in the proceedings against the Flyers and were all minus-2 or worse when the game was over, so clearly Boston’s best players left a lot to be desired at both ends of the ice.

Still, don’t count them as concerned with two more round robin games left against Tampa Bay and Washington prior to the real playoff rounds starting next week.

“Instead of trying to make plays out of nothing, we’re going to have to try to get [pucks] in deep a little bit more and wear teams down low while making our plays in deep,” said Marchand. “We do tend to want to be more of a rush line and create opportunities on the rush, but with the ice the way it is right now it’s too tough. We’re just going to have to simplify a little bit. We’re going to get our looks and when they are there and they’re clear, then we can make them. But the ones where we’re trying to force it, we need to be a little smarter and get it in deep.

We’re not concerned about the way the last few games have gone. We’ve been off for six months and it’s going to take a couple of games to get back into it. But when we do, then [the goals] are going to come in bunches.

Certainly Boston’s top players looked passive with the puck, slow to react and hesitant to shoot when given a lane, and that is not very much like any of the Perfection Line guys when they are feeling it offensively.

In the past, there have been plenty of instances when Marchand, Bergeron and Pastrnak can look downright bad on the ice if there really isn’t much to play for within the game. They looked dreadful for a week or two at the end of the 2018-19 regular season once everything was clinched for the postseason, but then came on like gangbusters in the NHL postseason against the Toronto Maple Leafs and everybody else.

Perhaps they weren’t going full tilt in round robin and exhibition games that have little bearing on the actual playoffs, but that should change with the next couple of round robin tilts against Tampa Bay and Washington. These are teams that the Bruins will absolutely want to make statements against as they edge closer to the traditional four rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

So the Bruins' top players aren’t "concerned” right now, but there might be a different answer from them if it’s more of the same Wednesday night against the rival Lightning.  

Steven Stamkos injury: Lightning star won't play vs. Bruins in round robin

Steven Stamkos injury: Lightning star won't play vs. Bruins in round robin

The Boston Bruins need a win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday if they're going to earn a high playoff seed from the NHL's round robin, and luckily for the B's, the Bolts will be without their captain and best player.

Lightning center Steven Stamkos won't be in the lineup, Tampa Bay head coach Jon Cooper told reporters Tuesday.

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Stamkos is recovering from a lower-leg injury suffered during July's Phase 2 team workouts. He also did not play in the Lightning's 3-2 shootout win against the Washington Capitals in their round robin opener on Monday.

The loss of Stamkos is a tough blow for the Lightning. He's one of the league's most talented offensive players, and he's also enjoyed plenty of success versus the Bruins. Stamkos has tallied 34 points (23 goals, 11 assists) in 41 career regular season games against the B's. The veteran center also has posted 11 points (four goals, seven assists) in 12 career playoff matchups with the Bruins.

Injuries have been an issue for Stamkos throughout the 2019-20 campaign. He missed 25 games during the regular season, but still managed to score 66 points (29 goals, 37 assists).

The Bruins lost their first round robin game 4-1 to the Philadelphia Flyers last Sunday. After playing the Lightning, the B's will conclude their round robin schedule Sunday against the Washington Capitals. The order of the round robin standings will determine these four teams' seeds for the first round of the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.