Bruins' Julien comes to the defense of Matt Cooke

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Bruins' Julien comes to the defense of Matt Cooke

BUFFALO Claude Julien would be the last person anybody would expect to come to the defense of Pittsburgh Penguins hit man Matt Cooke, but thats exactly what happened when he was asked about the CookeErik Karlsson incident from a couple of days ago.

Cook sliced up Karlssons Achilles tendon while the two were tangled up in the corner battling for a puck, and the Ottawa Senators have lost their Norris Trophy-winning defenseman for the season.

Ottawa GM Bryan Murray and owner Eugene Melnyk werent happy that the NHL decided to opt against disciplinary action against Cooke for a play that has been dissected by hockey experts for two days since it happened. In slow motion it looks like Cooke came down with his skate blade on the back of Karlssons foot in an unnatural way, but the NHL felt it was just a hockey play that had gone bad.

Julien saw the sinister side of Cook three years ago when a flagrant blind side elbow to Marc Savards head effectively ended the Bruins centers NHL career after causing a severe concussion. But the Bruins coach also felt the incident with Cooke wasnt an intentional action to hurt Karlsson the polar opposite of when Julien felt Cookes shot to Savards head was an intentionally dangerous play worthy of suspension several years ago.

Ill be bluntly honest. I looked at the play. If you look at in slow motion, sure its going to look deliberate, said Julien. But in normal speed I dont believe it was deliberate. But I can understand why Bryan Murray is upset. If I lost a player like that Id be upset too, but sometimes when youre upset youre not being realistic.

I certainly didnt think it was purposefully done, but because it was Matt Cooke that conversation is going to be there.

Furthermore Julien hopes that more players start donning the Kevlar hockey socks that can provide greater protection for areas like ankles and wrists that can be exposed to skate blades in certain situations. The Bruins felt it was more safety issues than comfort issue, but its a touchy subject with some players.

It will be a topic no matter, but then there will always be something that happens to bring it back just like the visors, said Julien. The one thing players will tell you is that in order for them to play well they have to be comfortable with what theyre wearing. Ive never tried them so I cant really comment on whether those socks are comfortable or not.

But if there are no issues with the socks then I would advise guys to wear them. Its just like the visors. Whether it relates to being tough or not being tough, its always there for people. Im somebody thats very sensitive to the skate blade thing. Just look at what happened here in Buffalo. Clint Malarchuk was a teammate of mine and that was a scary scene. We saw Richard Zednick get cut with a skate blade. One was in the neck area and one was in the wrist area. Were seeing it more and more. Maybe Im a little sensitive to it, but I fear for the worst.

It remains to be seen how quickly all players adopt the protective socks, but its pretty clear they might cause gruesome events like the CookeKarlsson incident to be a thing of the past.

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

Bruce Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity' in times of adversity

BOSTON – While there were some warning signs over the last few weeks that the Bruins might be getting away from their game, it didn’t really hit home until Thursday night’s frustrating loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning. 

The Bruins blew through three different one-goal leads in the second period in the 6-3 loss to the Bolts at TD Garden, and each time surrendered a tying goal to Tampa in less than two minutes after initially scoring. It was a clear indicator that the Bruins weren’t fully focused on the task at hand despite having already lost three games in a row, and that their ability to bounce back from adversity is going away from them again. 

That much was obvious when the bottom dropped out in the third period, and Jonathan Drouin and Nikita Kucherov turned into a two-man Lightning wrecking crew outscoring the Bruins by a 3-0 margin in the final 20 minutes. 

“I think the frustration is more in-game, where we’ve got to have a stronger mental capacity to handle those [challenging] situations in-game. Let’s face it, when you get on a bit of a losing streak, all those things creep in, whether it’s in October or whether it’s in March,” said Bruce Cassidy. “You have doubts, you start pressing, and again, it’s my job to alleviate the kind of attention in those situations.

“But, as I told you, we all have to be accountable and be responsible for ourselves, and that’s where we just need to have better focus and better discipline in those areas. It was there when it was 3-3 [on the scoreboard]. We’ve got to push back after they score, and that’s where I thought we started to come apart a little bit where we should’ve stuck together and stuck with the program. [We needed to] get ourselves slowly back into the game. We had 10 minutes to even the score, and we weren’t able to do it.”

Clearly this wasn’t just the coach alone in his pointed observations, however, as the lack of focus showed unfortunately in a rudderless second period for the Black and Gold where they couldn’t gain any separation from Tampa Bay despite scoring three goals. 

“[It’s] not being focused, not being sharp, and obviously at this time of the year it’s unacceptable, and it’s up on us to be better,” said Bruins captain Zdeno Chara. “Those kinds of situations shouldn’t happen. So, for sure, we need to address those things and hold each other accountable.”

One thing is clear: The Bruins have a lot of work to do if they hope to avoid the same kind of late season tailspin that doomed them each of the last two seasons, and already seems to be happening over their last four losses to varying levels of hockey talent. 

Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

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Talking points: Tuukka Rask wasn't good enough vs. Lightning

Here are the talking points from the Boston Bruins' 6-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.