Julien: Capitals were simply the better team

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Julien: Capitals were simply the better team

BOSTON -- Its difficult to make arguments that the better team didnt win in a playoff series that set a league-record with each of the seven games ultimately being decided by a one-goal margin.

So the Bruins didnt try that after falling to the Washington Capitals in overtime, 2-1, on Wednesday night when Joel Ward banged home the game-winner at the TD Garden. The Bruins scored one goal or less four times in the series, dropped three games on home ice and held the lead after the first period only once in the seven games series.

Instead the Capitals frustrated the Bruins with their shot-blocking and defense around goaltender Braden Holtby. In each game, they simply packed in their defense once theyd built up a lead.

It happens a lot, right? I think both teams battled very hard, said Tim Thomas when asked if he was surprised how close the series remained up until the bitter end. They stuck to their game plan. They made it very difficult for us to generate any offense or any momentum with the style that they played.

What it says about our guys is that theyre battlers and theyre . . . well . . . theyre still champions. And they gave everything they had to the bitter end. Unfortunately this is sports and they fell short this time.

Dale Hunter deserved a great deal of credit for getting the oft-times selfish and stat-oriented Capitals players to buy into the defensive system he was selling. The proof was in the pudding during the tightest seven game series in the history of the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Claude Julien was asked about a missed chance on a power play at the end of the third period that could have clinched it for Boston, but his answer drifted into an admission that the Capitals were the team that deserved to advance.

When you look at the whole picture, I think it was more than not scoring on power plays, said Claude Julien. At the end of the series, you look at their team, and you look at ours, and they were the better team. They had more guys going than we did, and they played us tough.

At times during the series the Bruins showed the physicality and emotion that marks their game at the height of its powers, and both Rich Peverley and Tyler Seguin heated up offensively at different points in the seven game series. But Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand never truly found their way offensively, and none of the Bruins could consistently get to the net to fluster 22-year-old Caps goaltender.

Even Thomas had his moments of weakness while barely cracking the top 10 in save percentage among playoff goaltenders. Neither of the two goals scored in Wednesdays series finale against the Bruins were Thomas' fault, but the fact remains that he wasn't good enough to carry his team to the next round. None of the Bruins were. It's why they're out of the running to repeat as Stanley Cup champs.

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

Chara on slumping Bruins: Players shouldn't have to be told to work hard

BRIGHTON -- The on-ice portion of Bruins practice kicked off about an hour later than scheduled at Warrior Ice Arena on Monday morning.

The B's are reeling, having lost four games in a row for the first time this season after getting dumped by the Penguins, 5-1, in Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon. Their standing in the Atlantic Division, and the playoff picture, is tenuous at best with so many other teams holding games in hand over them, and it truly looks like they're going to slide out of the race if they can’t reverse their fortunes.

So Claude Julien, saying "desperate times call for desperate measures," summoned the players to a video session where flaws, mistakes, half-hearted efforts and bad systems-play was pointed out in front of everyone. The team then took the ice to iron out those problems in an hour-long practice that the embattled Bruins coach hopes will lead to better results in the final two games, against Detroit and Pittsburgh, before the All-Star break.

“He was showing details that we were doing well early on in the season to have success, and little things that we’ve gotten away from that we need to correct,” said captain Zdeno Chara. “We need to start doing them again. It’s a game of little details and we need to make sure we do them right.”

While Chara wouldn’t comment on the tone of the video session, it’s clear that things like effort, determination and desperation were probably talking points just as much as fine-tuning Julien’s long-held offensive and defensive systems.

“It’s commitment," said Chara. "That’s for sure, that we need to have everybody doing that. We shouldn’t . . . at this level, at this time of the season, [have to be] asking guys to work hard. We’ve got to make sure that everybody is working hard, and everybody is paying his dues to be in the lineup and earn a spot.

“That’s the No. 1 priority: You have to compete and you have to work hard. Usually when you do those things, good things happen. We’ve got to back to those little things [with] hard work, commitment and competing every shift.”

Will an honest, direct video session between head coach and players be the key to stopping the team’s most demoralizing stretch of the season, and lead to a prolonged winning streak? Only time will tell.

But the Bruins need something to get spinning in an entirely different direction.