Julien's early game timeout got the B's on the right track

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Julien's early game timeout got the B's on the right track

It isnt usually in Claude Juliens bag of coaching tricks, but he called the rare early game timeout Saturday night to great effect.

The Bs coach watched his heavy-legged team fall down to the Winnipeg Jets by a 20 score after some uncharacteristic defensive breakdowns, and Julien didnt hesitate to stop the momentum with a timeout after Dustin Byfugliens goal gave the Jets a two-goal lead. Julien didnt rant or rave to his veteran, Cup-winning bunch, but instead tried to instill a little calm back into a group that was running around well out of position.

I think it was just about obviously slowing the game down a little bit, but more so I just felt that we weren't skating very well at that point. We were getting the puck and then we were looking instead of moving. Our neutral zone speed just wasn't there at all, said Julien. We were basically standing still a lot and that wasn't the way we need to play. So I just felt that at that time, we needed to kind of refocus and slow things down a bit.

We had to find the elements of our game that make us successful, again. I just tried to refocus the team on doing those simple, little things and see where it would take us.

The timeout was followed by Zdeno Chara cranking in a power play goal from the right point to cut things to a 21 deficit in the first period, which eventually paved the way for Boston to overcome Winnipeg. At the end of the day the victory was about Charas power play prowess, Chris Kellys miraculous second period scoring outburst and the marvelous third period goaltending of Tim Thomas.

But theres also something to be said for a head hockey coach injecting himself into the game when things aren't going well early, and thats something Julien hasnt done enough to appease his critics at times.

It was the perfect call at the perfect time for the stumbling Black and Gold before they met during the first intermission and really cleaned up the other sloppy aspects to their game.

I think it helped a lot for guys to settle down a bit. Maybe you realized that you are working too hard or you are not, said Daniel Paille. I think it kind of gets you thinking a bit on what you need to improve on. I think it helped a lot.

When a team is rolling like the Bruins are in November, everything seems to happen at exactly the right moment and the puck always seems to bounce helpfully. That good stretch also surely extends to the coaches, who seem to make all of the right roster calls and timeout choices when a team is winning with consistency and regularity.

The time-honored timeout was just that right call for Claude Julien and the rest of the Bruins bench in their gritty weekend victory.

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right.