Julien's improvement project: Close those gaps

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Julien's improvement project: Close those gaps

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Each year that Claude Julien has been at the helm of the Bruins, he's taken on a team improvement project with the Bs.

One year its turning up the pressure on the forecheck. Another year its improving the breakouts to gather speed through the neutral zone.

With so many key players remaining in Boston year in and year out, the Bruins have become accustomed to Juliens offensive and defensive systems. The familiarity allows the coaching staff to get deeper into the details of the game.

This season, the Bruins coach has determined that tightening the gaps between the defenseman and forwards is an area that needs to be addressed.

Tightening up the gap control can slow down the opposition's attack with diligent back-checking, and it also allows the defense group to get much more involved with the offensive attack. The Bs D-men actually did a nice job with their gaps during the playoff run, and could continue improving the attack with offensive defensemen like Joe Corvo and Steve Kampfer expected to log minutes for a more mobile group of blueliners this season.

Were adding a little bit every day and -- the first day was a little bit about -- we want our D to have a tighter gap this year, so we did a lot of drills with that, said Julien speaking about the practice process through the first few days. With the back pressure and backcheck . . . was a little bit more on our transition game and the attack. Were kind of touching up a little bit.

Every year, no matter what happens, you always look for certain things to get a little bit better. The defensemen gaps are an area we identified. It wasnt a major issue, but its an area that we can get better at. Sometimes our D is working up the ice a little harder, and they work up a little harder and are able to support the attack. If they work a little harder and get up the ice then they can also have a tighter gap. Our Ds can get that confidence if our third man is high and they can back-check properly and at least give them some confidence to stand up a little bit more to the blue line.

Its not an area that anybody is going to point to as the reason the Bruins have a successful season if it comes down that way, but its that attention to detail that has helped the Bs become a winner over the last five years.

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

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Thursday, Jan. 19: Torts doesn't think LeBron could play hockey

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wondering if the Bruins are ever going to poop, or get off the pot.
 
*John Tortorella wants everybody to know that he thinks there isn’t a chance that Lebron James could play hockey.
 
*In the interest of self-promotion, here’s my radio hit with Toucher and Rich this morning about whether or not Claude Julien should be fired after back-to-back bad losses against the Islanders and Red Wings.
 
*How did Shane Doan arrive at an unhappy place with the Arizona Coyotes where he now is open to moving elsewhere ahead of the trade deadline?
 
*Henrik Lundqvist’s season is entering a crisis level based on what he’s done, and the diminished performance level he’s showing as a more mature goaltender.
 
*A nice piece with a Canadian hockey hero, Hayley Wickenheiser, who recounts some of the legendary moments of her career through a series of pictures.
 
*I totally respect the work that Travis Yost does, but stating the Bruins should stick with Claude Julien because their shooting percentage is bound to turn around isn’t good enough grounds to keep a floundering situation intact, in my opinion. You need to check where the shots are coming from and how many of those shot attempts are completely missing the net to get a better grasp on some of the reasons behind Boston’s dreadful 10-year low shooting percentage. That would also explain some of the reason why Julien needs to be replaced coaching a team that’s largely content on perimeter shots to do it for them while also only sporadically showing the effort required from a middle class talent type of team.

*The Lightning are struggling at Joe Namath levels right now without Steve Stamkos in their lineup, and they need that to change.
 
*For something completely different: congrats to the Boston boys in New Edition for a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.