Julien: On-ice verbal taunts starting to cross the line


Julien: On-ice verbal taunts starting to cross the line

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Many hockey people are convinced an unwritten rule in the hockey world was crossed when Sean Avery complained he was the victim of homophobic barbs uttered by Philadelphia Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds.

The words were offensive if Simmonds truly said them, and on one level Avery was courageous in standing up for a cause he adamantly believes in. But theres also the code among NHL players that trash talk and on-ice insults never reach the media, and you dont go public with something said to you during a game.

There is some nasty stuff out there. Chatter about divorces and player backgrounds or physical characteristics are commonplace, and there was even an instance two years ago when Mike Richards threatened to knock Marc Savard back out with a concussion just months after the Matt Cooke incident.

It can get ugly when NHL players add a little salt to their language, and the competitive juices get involved. But clearly insults aimed at race, creed, religion, sexual orientation or players families is crossing over the line into an area that shouldnt be approached, but surely is in plenty of instances.

Claude Julien has witnessed this kind of trash talk behind the bench with the Bruins, and hes hoped for years that it would get cleaned up. Clearly theres verbal abuse for referees that has always been a part of the NHL, and there are penalties in place for stepping over the line. But the taunts and colorful language between players battling on the ice has been considered mental warfare, and off limits from discipline where its difficult to prove what was said.

There's a rule in place for when there's a certain type of language -- whether it's to referees and stuff like that you certainly can get tossed out of a game, said Julien. I'm one of those guys that believe that you know you shouldn't be crossing the lines. There are some things that are being said out there that are really crossing the line.

The Bruins coach is decidedly from the old school where certain topics are sacred within trash talk, and there are places you just didnt go. But in a world where rats like Avery, Steve Ott and Matt Cooke exist while lurking in the shadows and attempting to provoke their opponents, it seems that nothing is off-limits.

Whether that's been like that decades ago, I'm not quite sure. People are going after divorces or calling people certain names that I don't even want to allude to here, said Julien. But there is a fine line I think that has to exist. There's gamesmanship and then there's crossing the line. I think more and more, players today are going further than they used to so.

You'd hope that it would be policed by the players and by having a little bit more respect for each other. They are part of a player's association, they should all be part of a group and there should be at least that kind of respect that exists. Some people are better at refraining themselves than others. You always have those other kind of guys whether the league needs to step into it . . . it's always a hard thing to prove. You know he said, she said and whatever. It's not an easy thing to tackle.

As Julien alluded and as Avery found out again this week, policing conversations between players on the ice isnt an easy thing. Sure there is more access, more microphones and cameras to pick up conversations on the ice and sensitivities to so many items within each players life, but theres also the Fight Club mentality that continues to permeate the NHL at all levels.

Rule No. 1: Whatever is said on the ice stays on the ice. Rule No. 2: Always refer back to rule No. 1 during moments of confusion.

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

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

Haggerty: Bruins continue to stumble against Canadiens at home

BOSTON -- One of the definitions of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

Much like Charlie Brown was never going to actually kick the football before Lucy pulled it away, it feels like the Bruins are never again going to beat the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. They failed again Saturday night, never holding a lead at any point as they dropped their ninth straight home game to the Habs, 4-2.

Bruins-Canadiens games in Boston have become the hockey version of 'Groundhog Day', as the same patterns emerge over and over again: Montreal's speed forces the Bruins into mistakes with the puck; Habs players draw the B’s into taking bad penalties; Carey Price dominates in goal. It's been that way ever since the last Bruin victory over Montreal at the Garden, on Jan. 12, 2012. To put it perspective, Tim Thomas and Tyler Seguin were still Bruins back then.

Saturday night's loss, though, had a little added twist: The B's second-period woes, such a problem last year, reared its ugly head again.

“[The second period was] terrible, and that’s where it really hurt us," said Claude Julien. "I thought we played well (in the first period) . . . But the second period came back to haunt us. We were flat coming out. We didn’t make good outlet passes, and we spent way too much time in our own end, and because of that, it gave them some momentum. And by the end of it, we cheated ourselves a little bit, and pucks ended up in the back of our net . . .

"[When] you give up four goals to Montreal, and you have Price at the other end, it’s pretty hard to beat that team. So we needed to be better . . . [We] shot ourselves in the foot with some real poor mistakes, and we can’t afford to do that against the Montreal Canadiens."

The Bruins were essentially done for after a couple of very typical Boston-Montreal plays went against them in the middle 20 minutes.

The first was a defensive coverage breakdown in the D-zone that allowed both Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher to operate with time and space. Five B’s players simply watched as Gallagher smoked a one-timer from the outside of the left circle that eluded Anton Khudobin.

Then, later in the period, John-Michael Liles misread a play where he pinched deep in the offensive zone and couldn’t control the puck. As a result, Alexander Radulov worked a 2-on-1 with Phillip Danault to skilled perfection on a typical Habs transition play.

"I think our second period has got to be better overall," said Patrice Bergeron. "We talked about them having a good forecheck . . . [but] we didn’t make the easy plays too many times. When you do that, it creates turnovers and you spend more time in your zone than you’d like to."

From there, it was just more of the same. Playing with the lead, Montreal was able to neutralize Bergeron and Brad Marchand; Bergeron never got a shot on goal. Price came up big when he had to, shutting down a couple of Ryan Spooner chances.

And Bruin weaknesses were exposed, things Julien and the coaching staff may have to address. It looks like it’s time to move on from the Joe Morrow/Torey Krug defense pairing; it's simply not working. (Krug, in particular, was a minus-3 and made mistakes all over the ice.) They also may need to switch things up with the forwards, as they're getting zippo offensively from their second and third lines.

To their credit, the Bruins never packed it in. They hung in and made plays in the third period to keep the game close, right up to the 6-on-3 advantage they had at the end. But there are no consolation prizes or moral victories in the Boston-Montreal rivalry, especially when the Habs have made it so one-sided.

To be a true rivalry, you need equal rivals. And the Bruins, especially at home, aren’t holding up their end of the bargain.

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

Bruins need to 'find a way to start playing with a lead'

BOSTON -- There’s only so long that a team can hope to thrive, or even survive, in the NHL if they’re constantly chasing the game on the scoreboard, and chasing the puck after digging themselves a hole. The Bruins have been that team in the first couple of weeks during the regular season, and made it five times in five games that they’ve given up the game’s first goal in an eventual 4-2 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden.

It’s a pattern that is long past getting old to Bruins head coach Claude Julien, who can’t seem to play the front-runner this season despite three comebacks that have allowed for a 3-2-0 record overall this season.

“I hope it’s not a habit. It’s certainly not what we’re looking for, but there’s no doubt. I think it’s pretty obvious that with the amount of games we’ve played, five games, we haven’t scored first,” said Julien. “We talked about that this morning, trying to get that first goal, and it hasn’t happened yet.”

The start to the game wasn’t really the problem on Saturday night as it’s been a couple of times this season. Instead the Bruins enjoyed a handful of quality scoring chances in the opening 20 minutes against the Habs, but couldn’t come through and finish off those plays when it might have meant an early lead.

Instead it lead to what Julien termed a “terrible” second period that was flat, full of mistakes and ended with the B’s trailing Montreal by a couple of goals. The Bruins scratched and clawed their way to making it a one-goal game in the third period, but that was as close as the Black and Gold would get in losing their ninth straight home game to the arch-rival Canadiens.

“It’s kind of been a story about how things are going for us this far, we’ve got to find a way to start playing with a lead. If you don’t capitalize on your chances, you see what happens when you come out [flat] in the second period,” said Torey Krug, who finished a game-worst minus-3 in the loss for the Bruins. “We had another poor second period and you know it’s kind of… you got to make sure that we put our hand on that and it doesn’t become a thing for the team this year. You see that when you don’t capitalize on chances early, that’s what’s going to happen.”

It’s been a positive development that the Bruins have shown the willingness and backbone to fight back into games after early deficits, and they showed that quality once again on Saturday night by scoring a couple of goals in the third period to keep things close. But the Bruins would be best served if they can start lighting the lamp a little earlier in these games, and see how the other half lives by playing with a comfortable lead every once in a while.