Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Julien: 'Nitpicking' keys B's success
By James Murphy
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins have won five straight games and will hope to make it six straight heading into the Christmas break with a win over the Florida Panthers on Friday night at TD Garden.
But the Bruins are not allowing complacency to set in. They're quite aware of the fact that if not for the goaltending of Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas, they could easily have gone 1-4-0 over the past five games. They allowed 40-plus shots in the first three games of this win streak. They've been critical of their neutral zone play and lack of team defense, despite losing captain Zdeno Chara for two games due to injury.
Nonetheless, they've been able to right the ship and learn on the fly without suffering any losses in the process. Coach Claude Julien attributes the Bruins' continued success to their ability to quickly identify and correct mistakes.
"I don't think we have a hard time recognizing our mistakes and we actually nitpick at them more when we're winning," Julien said. "That's when you have to be tougher on yourselves. When things are going well you want to nitpick at that and when things aren't going well, it's mostly about getting the confidence going again. Right now we've been nitpicking at certain parts of our game. We talked about the neutral zone and giving up 40-plus shots for a few games there and that wasn't because of Zdeno but more because of our whole team not being very good in the neutral zone.
"So we nitpicked at that and today we did some drills that may have looked more like a fun day but was more about being stronger on the puck and puck possession and being able to battle. We wanted to get better at that and that's another area where we're trying to improve."
Winger Brad Marchand credited Julien and the coaching staff for training the players to be conscious of their mistakes regardless of the outcome of each game. Marchand realizes this mindset is important not only during the peaks and valleys of the regular season but even more so in the playoffs. so applying it now in December will only help him and his teammates in the spring.
"I think that's where our coaches are coming in and letting us know that even though we're winning, we're not playing good hockey," Marchand said. "The main thing is that we're finding ways to win and we're still getting our points but we do have to clean it up. If we plan on going deep in the playoffs, we have to clean up our game and that's what they're letting us know. We did tighten up here the last couple of games, but we were lucky before that we have the goalies stepping up and guys stepping up to help us win games when we're not playing well.
"But like I said, this is something they definitely harp on us, is to not get comfortable. You go through ups and downs through the course of a year and you saw that in the beginning of the year. Once you're on a high, you can get complacent and that's something that they're making sure we don't do so we'll continue to play good hockey."
Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg concurred, and also credited the coaching staff for not allowing bad habits to creep in or the team to get too comfortable.
"Once you're on a hot streak or a winning streak, you tend to take things for granted and stop doing the little things," Seidenberg said. "You seem to think that winning is easy and you don't have to really work that hard in practice. Slowly but surely things creep in and you get lazy. You don't back-check as hard and you don't play hard in the neutral zone where you're supposed to and just swing through. But Claude does and is doing a great job of reminding guys to stay awake and just keep working hard on every practice no matter if we're on a winning or losing streak."