Haggerty: Julien making all the right moves

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Haggerty: Julien making all the right moves

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com BruinsInsider Follow@hackswithhaggs
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.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

Cassidy: Bruins 'have got to have a stronger mental capacity'

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.