Julien: 'Tonight is a game of will'

Julien: 'Tonight is a game of will'
April 22, 2014, 2:15 pm
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DETROIT – In the two days since dropping Game 2 in Boston, the Detroit Red Wings have made a big public display of distancing themselves from the physical entanglements that always seem to fire up the Bruins. Wings head coach Mike Babcock pulled off an extended analogy on Monday’s off-day about the choice to just play pool, or start talking to the girl at the bar with a giant boyfriend that wants to fight. I’m fairly certain it was meant to relate to the Zdeno Chara/Brendan Smith scuffle at the end of the first period that resulted in the 6-foot-9 defenseman toying with the young Detroit blueliner.

The lesson was clear from the legendary, eminently quotable Wings head coach, and it was heard, processed and digested among his players: don’t engage the Bruins physically, and play to their strengths.

“We just need to skate. Our best asset is our skating ability, and getting up and down the ice,” said Justin Abdelkader. “We don’t need to get involved in anything extra after a whistle, or during a game. We just have to go out and play our brand of hockey. We need to stick with what’s worked for us all season.

“We just got off-kilter a bit [in Game 2], and we got off our game. Game 1 showed that if we can skate and use our speed then we didn’t need to get involved in anything extra. There’s no fighting that needs to go on, or any of that stuff. All of that stuff after the whistle is pointless. That’s what they thrive on.”

Claude Julien views things a little differently. His team has received excellent goaltending, fantastic special teams play and has held Detroit to just two goals in two games while still waiting for some of the his best offensive players to get going with their production. It’s less about Bruins brawn or the running Red Wings, and more about which teams wants to take the upper hand in the series during a pivotal Game 3.

The Bruins are 13-1 in Game 3’s under Claude Julien with the only defeat coming at the hands of the Carolina Hurricanes in 2009, a series the Bruins eventually lost in seven games.   

“The few scrums there were [in Game 2], if you look at the replays then we didn’t start any of them,” said Claude Julien. “Tonight is just a game of will, and whoever has the will to play their game the best. That’s all we’ve got to think about. We’re big, we’re physical and that’s the way we’ve built our team and we shouldn’t apologize for it. The Bruins fans and the city of Boston love us for it.”

The battle of wills between Boston and Detroit begins with puck drop around 7:30 p.m., and figures to continue for the another four games afterward.