Game Day: Bruins @ Islanders
The Bruins will jet to New York for a date with the Islanders.
Friday, 12.11.2009 / 9:21 AM ET / Bish's Blog
By John Bishop - BostonBruins.com
The B's lines...
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Coach Julien was also asked about facing Islanders phenom John Tavares.
"Well, I think his skill level is outstanding and watching him," said Julien, who said the Isles' forward impressed him even previous to his entry into the NHL. "I saw him in the World champitionship last year [and] that come back the team made.
"He was a large part of it. And his skill level is pretty eveident here."
Julien compared Tavares to another highly-touted young player from Tampa Bay -- Steve Stamkos -- and explained that they can add to their game through time and hard work at the highest level.
"Those young guys that come in the league, the biggest thing they’re going to tell you is how much stronger they need to get to be a better player in this league," he said. "And that’s the biggest thing they need to learn.
"Unfortunately, at the junior level, that’s one thing we need to work on.
"[And] I'm sure that [with] how well that this guy is doing here he’ll be even better next year cause he’ll know what to do to get stronger."
Tonight's game could stand as a touchstone for the Bruins and Coach Julien hopes his B's have a little extra in the tank going into the tilt.
If you remember, Boston fell to the Isles 4-1 on November 16th.
"I think even the first game we had to come back from a 3-1 deficit," said Julien. "They play pretty well at home.
"They’ve come off 14 out of the last 17 on the road. They haven’t had an easy schedule.
"And they’re probably looking forward to coming home where they’ve had success," he said.
Julien told NESN's Jack Edwards about a conversation that he had with his team during that contest.
"Well, it was more a situation where I didn’t feel we were emotionally engagned in that game," he said. "Emotion has a lot to do with success in a team.
"[When you're] emotionally engaged you’re gonna do the things you have to do, whether it’s a second effort on the backcheck or whether it's blocking the shot at the right time to save a goal or taking a hit to make the [blueline].
"And When you are emotionally engaged and committed you know you'll do those things and you think about the guys next to you."
After morning skate, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien told the gathered mediat that the Bruins are in for a tough game agains the Islanders this evening.
"They have played well against us," said Julien. "There’s no ifs-or-buts about it."
Julien wasn't sure about the specific reasons why the B's have had some tough moments against the Isles this year, "Whether there’s extra extra motivation from guys who have ties with this organization or whether it's just we haven’t played as well [against them].
"And it was earlier in the year," said Julien. "Obviously, it was after that game against the Islanders that we started picking it up, so hopefully I can answer that better after tonight."
Word from the southern front is that the Bruins had all 21 players in the traveling party, including Byron Bitz and Dennis Wideman, on the ice for pregame skate.
Byron was the B's scratch (along with Milan Lucic) on Thursday, and Dennis missed practice several times this week after getting dinged up during the Bruins first game against Toronto.
Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice and tradition indicates that he will get the start in goal.
BTW: I will be updating frequently until gametime when I'll change over to the live blog, so keep it here for the latest. But the fastest way to get breaking news form the Bruins is to join our Twitter feed @NHLBruins. JB
Friday, December 11
There was good news about the B's health concerns earlier this afternoon.
Despite the pair having missed practice on Friday both Byron Bitz and Dennis Wideman would be on the B's plane to Long Island.
"Yah, he's going to travel with us," said Julien of Bitz. "He's feeling a little better this morning.
"We're anticipating he should be good to go tomorrow."
As far as Wideman goes, Coach Julien said the defenseman, who had missed practice earlier this week, but played in last night's game versus Toronto, should be fine as well.
"The same thing. Just maintenance, today," he said.
Dennis Wideman and Byron Bitz are the only missing persons this morning as the B's get in a practice session before hopping on Bear Force One for the quick flight to Long Island.
We'll get some thoughts on Dennis and Bryon's status after practice, I'm sure.
|Boston Bruins' David Krejci, of the Czech Republic ,pokes the puck past Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Vesa Toskala, of Finland, for a goal during the second period of their NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, Dec. 10, 2009. (AP Photo/Charles Krupa)|
"Yeah, they never do," he said. "This year and last year, they’re a team that used to rebound by quite a few goals.
"They creeped their way back into the game and they don’t quit.
"They’re a team that works hard, they don’t give up, and from start to finish whether things go their way or not, they’re going to try to compete for sixty minutes," said Julien.
The Bruins head coach was right.
And that's why, during the third period when the Leafs had scored two goals and put the Bruins back on their heels, the B's bench boss called a timeout.
Again, the Jack Adams award-winning coach was right. The timeout gave the Bruins the spell they needed and they closed out the game in stellar fashion.
"It was to settle them down," he said. "I think we talked about our team before the third period, knowing that they were down 3-0 that they were going to pinch.
"They put a lot of pressure on us. We had to be strong against the boards. We needed to get pucks in deep. We talked about how it was their third game in four nights and that we needed to make them work for what they were going to get.
"But We didn’t react very well early in that third period," said Julien.
There were various reasons for the let down.
"The first shift we had two guys go right through our center and our winger," said Julien. "They got the momentum and we didn’t do a very good job early.
"So it was about settling them down and making sure we didn’t panic I thought that our power play did a good job of bailing us out when they got that opportunity."
Veteran winger Mark Recchi, acquired and re-hired to provide stability and scoring in just this type of situation followed his job description to a "T" and netted two important goals in the final stanza.
But Recchi pointed to the timeout as a "catalyst" for the B's quick turnaround.
"Claude called the time out there and he just talked, you know, and it was good," said Recchi. "He just...said that we've got to get our focus back and our composure back and that’s all we had to do.
"I mean, no one panicked on the bench, and we really regained our composure after that and that’s a good sign.
"Tuukka made the saves when he had to after that and we definitely got a lot better," he said.
Rask was again, up-to-the-task.
"I think we played real solid forty minutes and then maybe didn’t expect them to come at us hard because they played three games in four nights," said the rookie goalie. "You think it’s three nothing and they’re going to give up, but it’s never like that,
"they got the goal early in the third and maybe we were squeezing the stick after that a little bit."
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was pleased with how his teammates had pulled it together.
"we definitely had a weak start of the third," he said. "We gave up two quick goals and it put us right back up on our heels we knew that they would come out real hard and that they would take some chances.
"I mean that is what they had to do, but we never thought that they would score those two goals so quickly so I guess that was...a wake up call for us.
"We called time out in the right time and we just relaxed and started to play our game again -- we were creating some chances, but eventually we got rewarded at the end.
"But for sure we made it more dramatic then we should have," he said.
But in the end, it was shades of 2008-09 and the Bruins closed out the victory with panache.
"We’re starting to play more like we did last year as a team and you know, we’re starting to get our swagger," said Recchi. "We’re still not there, but we’re getting there.
"We've got a lot of work to do but we’re slowly making our way there."
The Bruins will make their way to Long Island this afternoon in preparation for tomorrow's tilt with the Islanders.