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

Haggerty's Morning Skate: Former Boston College hockey star dealing with drug addiction

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Haggerty's Morning Skate: Former Boston College hockey star dealing with drug addiction

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like I was watching the Heart of a Champion in that Golden State/Oklahoma City game last night. That Klay Thompson is something else.

 

*PHT writer James O’Brien wonders what the next step is for Troy Brouwer now that he’s ready to hit free agency, and the ride has finally come to an for the Blues this season.

 

*Excellent piece by FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Paul Dupont on the sad story of Kevin Stevens, and the drug addiction demons that have had him in their clutches for a long time. I’ve known about Stevens troubles for a while, and it’s too bad because he really is a gregarious guy when you get to know him.

 

*Allan Muir speculates on the future of Steve Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning now that the offseason has begun for both of them.

 

*P.K. Subban doesn’t sound like he’s got any hard feelings about being left off Team Canada for the World Cup of Hockey, and said he’ll still be rooting them along.

 

*Pat Hickey mentions the Subban snub, but is incredulous that Habs center Alex Galchenyuk was left off Team North America.

 

*Larry Brooks breaks down how exactly former Bruins head coach and New York Rangers assistant coach Mike Sullivan was able to emerge from John Tortorella’s shadow some 10 years later.

 

*For something completely different: sad story all around in Cincinnati where they had to had to shoot an endangered gorilla dead when a four year old child fell into his enclosure.

Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Predators' Rinne

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Saturday, May 28: Frustating season for Predators' Rinne

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering how much of a dark cloud Slava Voynov’s presence is going to bring to the World Cup of Hockey.

*PHT’s Joey Alfieri tracks the ups and downs of Nashville Predators goalie Pekka Rinne, who had a frustrating season.

*Jonathan Drouin says that he “definitely wants to be” part of the Tampa Bay Lightning after a very rocky year with a happy ending for all.

*Speaking of the World Cup of Hockey, Taylor Hall was one of a number of deserving Canadian players – including P.K. Subban -- left off the roster.

*The San Jose Sharks have come a long way from their inaugural season in the league.

*Ottawa Senators senior advisor Bryan Murray is still getting used to a new role after a change in the Sens front office structure.

*Pittsburgh Penguins GM Jim Rutherford has plenty of reasons to be proud after a very good year running hockey ops for the Penguins.

*For something completely different: this January Rolling Stone magazine piece on Stevie Nicks was an excellent retrospective.