Julien, Bruins reveal long-term rotation plans


Julien, Bruins reveal long-term rotation plans

WILMINGTON The Bruins plan to combat their Stanley Cup hangover has been taking shape all season, but the past couple of days have revealed some helpful nuggets earmarked for this years Bruins team.

The Bs opted against on-ice practice on Tuesday morning at the behest of Claude Julien when he determined a mental health day away from the ice would do the players much more help than harm.

There may not be many chances to take an extra day off away from the ice for a team that never really got much of a break following their Stanley Cup victory, so Julien exercised one of those day off options on Tuesday before holding a near two-hour practice at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday.

The practice began with Nathan Horton dropped to another new line, skating with David Krejci and Benoit Pouliot, and the formerly electric line of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and Rich Peverley was again reformed and ready for action against the Canadiens.

It was a plan right from the start of the season that we have to catch up on getting our rest, said Julien. A lot of it is more mental than physical. Our guys arent going to get out of shape in one day, but theyre certainly going to gain a lot more by staying away from the rink for another day.

When you look at the second half of the year its a really heavy schedule. So we wont get the luxury of days off come that time. If we just want to gauge on the results and that we have to punish more than we have to be smart about it, were going to get the right results at the end. We have to be smart and make good decisions about days off and the types of practices we have going forward. Were an optimistic group in there that thinks we can come back and play the way we can. Right now its less talk and more show, and its about starting to play the way we can.

Theres really no other way for the Bruins to go when theyve play 13 of their first 17 games at home, so there will be a price to be paid on the road.

But Julien seemed to be pining away for a long road trip for his hockey club, and it sounds like theres still some team bonding that needs to take place for the Black and Gold.

Its not easy when you have that schedule where youre home a lot. You want to take advantage of it, but once the guys are on the road together it gives them a good opportunity to bond, said Julien. We dont have that right now. So weve got to find other solutions to get us going and find ways to be a team that works together and plays together. Thats the big challenge right now. The excuses are there right now, but wed rather go out and find solutions to those problems right now instead.

Julien also had said the road-heavy second half schedule for the Bruins which stands as the single biggest impetus behind taking an extra day or two away from the ice in the first half plays into the ultimate goaltending rotation strategy for Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas as well.

Thomas has played six out of eight games thus far, and the division of labor looks incredibly similar to that of last year when Thomas really just took over the position.

General manager Peter Chiarelli casually mentioned in a Tuesday State of the Bruins type conference call that hed expected Rask would have another start or two at this point in the season.

But interestingly enough Julien had to answer that charge through the media by pointing toward a busy second half thats going to require much more regular work from Rask between the pipes. The trick: keeping Rask sharp for those second half games when the Finnish goalie freely acknowledges hes never going to get used to the sporadic playing time for a backup goalie.

I didnt read or hear how it was said by Chiarelli, said Julien. All I know is that there was a plan to use Tuukka more this year. Its certainly not a judgment that needs to be made one month into the season. At the end of the year lets look at how many games Tuukka has played and well see if weve followed the plan or not.

Weve talked about the schedule in the second half getting heavier, and thats where Tuukka is really going to have to step up and help us out. Hes going to see some game time, but I dont think I would read into how were using one month into the season with this kind of schedule.

The plans are certainly in place to give the Bs a little extra rest and address that always tricky goaltending rotation between Rask and Thomas, but the best laid plans of a hockey organization arent going to matter much if they dont start consistently putting some Ws together.

Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch


Spooner responds positively to healthy scratch

BOSTON -- It wasn’t perfect by any means, but Saturday night represented a step in a positive direction for Ryan Spooner.

The 24-year-old speedy forward was scratched for the home opener against New Jersey in classic message-sending fashion by Bruins coach Claude Julien, and deserved it based on a passive lack of production combined with some costly mistakes as well. So he stayed quiet, put in the work and then returned to the lineup Saturday vs. the Montreal Canadiens where he scored a power play goal in the 4-2 loss to the Habs at TD Garden.

“He was better,” agreed Claude Julien. “He was better tonight.”

Spooner could have had even more as he got a couple of great scoring chances in the first period vs. Montreal, but Carey Price was able to turn away a couple of free looks at the Montreal net. So the Bruins forward felt he possibly left points on the ice after it was all said and done, but also clearly played his best game of the young season after going from the press box back to the lineup.

“Yeah, I had like maybe four or five [chances] that I could have scored on,” said Spooner. “I’ve just got to bear down on those [scoring opportunities], and a lot [of them] in the first period. It’s good that I’m getting those looks, but I have to score on them.

“I’m just going to go out there and just try to play. I can’t really think about [fighting to hold a spot]. I’ve just got to go out there and try to play, I guess, the game I can and try to use the speed that I have.”

The Spooner power play strike was a nifty one with the shifty forward and David Backes connecting on a pass across the front of the net, and the young B’s forward showing the necessary assertiveness cutting to the net from his half-wall position.

Spooner had five shot attempts overall in the game, and was one of the few Bruins players really getting the chances they wanted against a pretty effective Montreal defensive group. Now it’s a matter of Spooner, along with linemates Backes and David Krejci, scoring during 5-on-5 play and giving the Bruins a little more offensive balance after riding Boston’s top line very hard during the regular season’s first couple of weeks. 

Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils


Sunday, Oct. 23: Hall fitting in with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while waiting to find out which Walking Dead character got brained by Lucille in last season’s cliffhanger. I’m going with Abraham.

*The SI roundtable talks about the future of Jacob Trouba, and where he’ll end up going when his current situation resolves itself.

*P.K. Subban is apparently getting very comfortable in Nashville, and enjoying life in a city with NFL football.

*Fun conversation between Yahoo’s Josh Cooper and Brad Marchand about a whole range of random topics.

*A cool father-son story where they became the goaltending tandem for the Ontario Reign through a series of dominoes falling after Jonathan Quick went down with injury for the Los Angeles Kings.

*Pro Hockey Talk has Taylor Hall serving as exactly what the New Jersey Devils have needed for the last couple of years.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Dan Shaughnessy says that the MLB playoffs couldn’t have played out any worse for the Boston Red Sox.