BostonBruins.com - The Bruins are set to host the Colorado Avalanche tonight for the teams' first meeting since October 10, 2011.
The Black & Gold are a confident group at the start of Claude Julien's seventh season as head coach, currently 2-0-0 on the season. New Avalanche Head Coach Patrick Roy's team sits at 3-0-0.
It will mark the the debut of Roy behind Garden bench, after spending much of his time between the pipes for the Montreal Canadiens in the old Boston Garden.
After four days with no game action, Boston is ready to go -- and so are the Garden stanchions.
In a light moment following Thursday's pregame skate, Julien said he made good use of his team's down time.
"I spent the last couple of days solidifying the glass between the benches," smirked the B's bench boss. "And it gave me lots of time to do a lot of different things. So that’s the good part about having a few days off."
Of course, Julien's comment comes in reference to Roy's coaching debut against Anaheim, in which he nearly pushed over the stanchion between the home and visiting benches during an argument with the referees and Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau.
Roy then had a good chuckle following his own squad's morning skate, when a reporter mentioned Julien's remarks and asked about their relationship.
"I don't expect any problems with Claude Julien," said Roy, bringing out laughter from the gathered reporters. "To be honest with you. I mean, I have so much respect for him, he's a great coach and when you're in the Final of the Stanley Cup for two years in the last three, I mean, he deserves certainly a lot of credit and respect."
Roy and Julien both spent time coaching in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. Julien began his coaching career in 1996 with the Hull Olympiques, where he spent four seasons and won the Memorial Cup in 1997, before eventually making the jump to the AHL with Montreal's affiliate Hamilton Bulldogs.
Meanwhile, Roy spent eight seasons as head coach of the Quebec Remparts from 2005-13, before being hired by Colorado.
While they didn't overlap coaching, Julien respects what Roy accomplished in the league as a player, and the pair share a camaraderie of having both gotten their coaching starts in the QMJHL.
"Every time I spoke to him, at the time, I would ask him a few questions, call him, he was always available," Roy said of Julien. "He said anytime you want to talk to me. It's fun to see guys open up like this, with the junior coaching, and I respect that, and I'm happy to see him being so successful here in Boston."
Earlier this week, with the B's in the midst of their four-day layoff, Julien offered his thoughts on an Avs team that appears, though it's early, to be turning the corner this season. They haven't made the postseason since 2009-10 and haven't made it past the first round since 2007-08, a far cry from their days with Roy between the pipes when they captured Cups in 1996 and 2001.
"I think they’re the real deal as far as some young guys really turning the corner there. I think they’re a real good skating team," said Julien.
"They’ve played well. They play hard…just the way they seem to compete, they’ve kind of taken Patrick [Roy]’s approach right now of real intense, and that’s given them a real good start."
One Bruin, Brad Marchand, played against Roy's Remparts for three seasons in the QMJHL.
"He's fun to play against. In junior, it was cool to look over and see a guy of his caliber behind the bench and you always admired him, so it was cool. It will be a little different now, in the NHL, you're more professional," smiled Marchand.
Roy's stature and intensity may be rubbing off on his team.
"This is one of the closest groups I've played with already, we've had a lot of really good team-bonding things already and that's a key to success. And Patrick's the next key, I mean, his presence behind the bench and his systems and the way he's coaching us and the whole coaching staff," said Avs center, Matt Duchene.
"I'd say that's a huge reason why we are where we're at."
The Bruins, a close-knit team of their own, are prepared for a team firing on all cylinders, and hope to give Roy a gift in his Garden debut.
"Just looking at that team that they were struggling the last few years and they just felt that they needed a change. And if you look back on his coaching career, he's proven he can win at the junior level so Colorado believed that they wanted him to be the guy," said B's forward Daniel Paille. "So far he's doing a good job with that."
"And we're going to do our best to hand him his first loss."
Respect for Bergeron
After showing his respect for Julien, Roy wasn't done giving out his compliments, as a reporter asked about fellow Quebec native Patrice Bergeron.
"It's easy to appreciate Patrice Bergeron," remarked Roy. "He's been so good for the Bruins over the years. He's a great two-way player and he's bringing a lot on the table for them and that organization, there's no doubt about it."
During the lockout, Bergeron spent time with Roy's Quebec Remparts, so the Avs coach got a chance to see more than just the on-ice player.
"He came a few times and he helped - you know what, he didn't want to be there because of the lockout situation, but at the same time, he was so nice to our players," said Roy.
"He's such a generous player, gave his time, helped the centers to work on their faceoffs."
"He's one of the best in the league."
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