Claude Julien ready to take his Bruins into battle for Game 3 with the Rangers. (AP)
Bruins coach Claude Julien is convinced that the outcome of Game 3 won’t hinge on the desperation of the Rangers as much as it will from the execution of his own team.
The Rangers are in the same 0-2 hole heading into tonight’s Game 3 at Madison Square Garden that they were in the first round against the Capitals, while the Bruins find themselves two wins away from a trip to the Eastern Conference finals.
“Doesn’t matter, I think it’s what we expect from ourselves,” Julien said. “That’s the thing, we always worry about the other team; we need to worry about ourselves. When we play well, we’re a good team and we give ourselves a chance to win. It’s more about our expectations right now, that has to be the important topic for us. We need to, obviously, understand they’re going to be better; we also need to be better. We’re on the road, we don’t get the last change, so it will be a tougher situation.”
One thing the Bruins know they must cut down is the number of turnovers. They committed 16 on Sunday in Game 2, and two of them led to New York’s only two goals of the game. The Rangers committed just one, and still the Bruins dominated in a 5-2 win.
“Oh, I think it was us,” Julien said when asked if the turnovers were self-inflicted. “When you look at some of those turnovers, David Krejci, just inside the blue line, turns around and it’s intercepted; you could see it coming from the bench. You could see the passes from our end on their sticks. A lot of that stuff was of our own doing. I think we can be better in that area, although we played a pretty game, I think most of those things came in the second period. We just have to be a little bit better. I thought our third period was much better in regards to puck management.”
Krejci had a team-leading three giveaways while four others had two. Brad Marchand had only one but it led to New York’s first goal, an end-to-end rush by Ryan Callahan.
“I thought our transition game has been better,” Julien said. “Obviously, the young guys have been doing that, but so have our veterans that were in our the lineup the last couple games. That’s been pretty consistent from our back end, so that’s helped a lot. Those guys are part of that group; they seem to have enough poise to make the right plays, so it’s helped our game a lot.”
Here are other thoughts from Julien as the Bruins ready themselves for Game 3:
“On if the performance of the penalty kill has been better in this series than it was in the first: “Well, I think the first round it hurt us a lot. Early in the series, Toronto got some power play goals. It doesn’t take much to take your percentage down. It’s been better, even yesterday, while I thought we could’ve been better in certain areas, that gave them more zone time than we probably would’ve liked. They felt they were better, and we felt that we could’ve been better, as well. Hopefully we’ll make those adjustments and be a little bit better on our penalty kill.”
On the penalty-killing depth the team has: “Well, that’s what you need. You need guys to step up in those situations. Like you said, a lot of them from the back end. When you lose [Dennis] Seidenberg and [Andrew] Ference that kill penalties, and all of a sudden you get Zdeno [Chara] in the box, it really minimizes your back end. Again, our guys, the [Adam] McQuaids have come up big, the [Matt] Bartkowskis have come up big, the guys that have been killing those penalties. [Johnny] Boychuk coming up big in those situations has been huge for us. Same thing, you’re late in the game and you lose [Patrice] Bergeron, you lose your best faceoff guy in your own end. Our guys have done a good job of filling in the gaps and still responding to the situation.”
On if the pace in this series has suited his team better: “I don’t know. We adjust to basically any type of team. Again, I’m going to repeat the same thing I said earlier, we really focus on our game. Sometimes we play against speed, sometimes it’s against a different type of team that maybe resembles ours a little bit more. But it’s about closing the gaps quickly here and I think we’re a better team in this series, so far, than we were against Toronto. A little bit more consistent in our games.”
On if Torey Krug has exceeded his expectations and if Krug has been overlooked at times: “He hasn’t been overlooked because we had to battle to get him last year, signed. I think a lot of teams wanted him. Am I impressed? Certainly, I’m impressed with him, I’m impressed with [Matt] Bartkowski, the young guys, [Dougie] Hamilton, that have come in and done the job. He’s got two goals in two games, so he deserves the acknowledgement that is, I guess, deserved in his case. He’s been a good player for us. He’s maybe short, but he’s stocky, he’s strong. Like I said yesterday, he handles the big guys pretty well. He’s learned how to do that at the pro level. He’s got [Brian] Boyle, he’s got [Taylor] Pyatt, he’s got some big guys that he plays against a lot. He’s done a good job.”
On giving Krug a vote of confidence when he got called up: “No, that’s what I’ve done with Bart [Matt Bartkowski] as well. Anybody that gets called up, you try to give them the confidence to go out and play their game. That’s the only way they’ll succeed. They need to know that we have their backs when it comes to that kind of stuff. For him, it may be a little bit easier because I’ve always found Tory to have lots of confidence. Even last year he came right out of college and played the last two games with us, and you could see the confidence. This guy was not rattled by the level or by who he was playing against. He’s got a lot of confidence in himself, so it’s basically letting him know that you have it in him and let him go. He’s been pretty good so far.”
On Dennis Seidenberg and how he approaches injured veterans: “First of all, Seidenberg, you saw him practice today. He’s getting closer. Whether it’s next game or not, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. As far as players in and out, it’s cut and dry with us. I need the okay from the medical staff, which is the doctors and the trainers. And after they’ve given me the okay, then it becomes my decision. There’s no gray area when it comes to that stuff.”
On how he decides when to insert a veteran back into the lineup: “Well, the best thing to do is to cross that bridge when you get to it. To procrastinate about it right now is a lot of wasted time where it could be putting it on different areas of our game. When that time comes, whether it’s tomorrow morning or whatever, I’ll be ready to make the decision. That’s what they want me to do as a coach, and that’s what I keep doing whether it’s right or wrong.”
On the importance of defensemen getting shots on net: “It’s an emphasis because the fact is, the longer you wait, the more chance you have of seeing somebody sliding in front of you to block those—and they get in those shooting lanes pretty quickly. So, it’s important for us to release as quick as we can here against this team so we can get our shots through. I don’t think that’s a secret to anybody who has played against the Rangers. It’s just us making sure we do it well.”
On Matt Bartkowski’s improvement with the puck: “I think in this situation, he’s just one of those guys that every year seems to have a slow start. So, I don’t know. Some players are like that. I’ve seen it in many players in the past, but once he finds his game he’s a good player and he’s done that every year. This year, at training camp in Providence, he was not a very good player and we could see that. It was disappointing for us to see that because we could see the potential. Once you see what he becomes and how better he was after the first month, that’s when you see the real Bartkowski. He just continues to get better. Again, he’s a young player. You hope that down the road he gets it; he figures out a way to have a better start and to be a more consistent player from the start of the season until the end. Right now, there’s no doubt that his starts have really hurt him as far as being maybe considered for our team because we don’t see what we need to see. But once we do, as you can see, he’s got the full confidence of our coaching staff right now.”
On swapping Tyler Seguin with Jaromir Jagr: “Well, the Bergeron line has been producing. For whatever reason, it’s been better, and that’s all a coach can ask for. As far as Tyler is concerned, I said it to our coaches after the game, I thought he played a solid game last night. He competed hard, he battled, and he’s getting chances. Right now, the only thing that didn’t happen for him yesterday that I thought would’ve been good for him would’ve been to have some stats—a goal and an assist. But I have no complaints on Tyler’s game yesterday. I thought he played extremely hard. I think he’s coming around, and maybe it’s a good thing that he’s on that line. Take a little bit of pressure off the guy and let him work his way out of it. I think that’s what’s happening right now.”