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BOSTON Claude Julien would be wise to head to Vegas once the season is over. If he can keep this hot streak going, the getting will be good.
The Bruins coach has pushed all the proper buttons, pulled all the right levers and made all the right moves in the Stanley Cup Final since the series returned to Boston. In general, Julien has had himself a solid postseason with a few key decisions and adjustments that helped the Bruins get to within two wins of their first Stanley Cup in 39 years.
But hes been particularly on point in the last four games. He's made two choices in each of the last two wins that paid immediate dividends:
1) He went with his head and his heart in playing Shawn Thornton during Game 3 to give his team an emotional lift and a dose of much-needed attitude.
2) He rolled the dice a little by taking a chance on Rich Peverley on Bostons top line in Game 4, and Peverley rewarded the decision with a pair of goals.
It would seem Julien is enjoying the Midas touch over the last few games, and hell need to continue if the Bruins are going to bag themselves a road win. While making sure to give a great deal of the credit to the players for the position that the Bruins find themselves in, Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli also points to Julien.
Everything is magnified in the Finals, said Chiarelli. "The last change -- the significance of the last change is huge, so its something we have to battle. But I have confidence in our coach and I have confidence in my players. Those guys have been battling and thats a testament to the team."
Julien is doing a good job, and the players are playing too. This is a collective thing. Ill give credit to Claude for mixing and matching, but the players are also doing terrific in accepting the roles that theyre being placed in."
Chiarelli continued: You bring Thornton in and he brings some energy. In Game 4 I really liked Tyler Seguins game. He battled for a few pucks and made a nice pass on the Michael Ryder goal. Its a cross-ice pass and he was going the other way, so thats a difficult play to make. Claude is making good decisions and the players are responding well.
While Julien could crow about the successful moves to play Thornton or promote Peverley or the idea to pair Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg together after Game 2 of the first round against the Montreal Canadiens with the Bs down 0-2 in that series he'd have to admit paying mind to those ubiquitous critics first. Thats something Julien just isnt going to do anytime soon. He's is happy to go about his way while holding the ultimate respect of his players for four years running in Boston.
Its difficult to have coaching longevity in the NHL, but thats exactly what Julien is building with the Bruins.
I dont hear the criticism. I really dont, said Julien. I stay away that stuff. I need to come to the rink with a clear head. I discuss obviously all the stuff thats done. Its not just about me. Its a coaching staff, management and stuff like that.
We talk about different things. Of course, the final decision always goes to the coach. But its not like its all about me. I dont really hear about it and I dont know about it unless you guys remind me.
One reason Julien isnt hearing too much criticism right now: There's none to be had after he has coached a couple of great games in Boston to even up the series.
Of course, the story could change depending on how Game 5 goes. But if Julien can continue to have the Midas touch for two games, his legacy as championship-caliber decision-maker will be written.