Julien: Bruins will keep working on powerplay


Julien: Bruins will keep working on powerplay

BOSTON -- If the Bruins hadn't won Game 1 on Thursday night, the main topic of conversation following the game would have been the power play.

Even Claude Julien admitted such, following his team's 1-0 overtime win over the Washington Capitals at the TD Garden.

But Chris Kelly's blast from the left circle, just 1:18 into OT, sent everybody in Boston home happy, and the Bruins' 0-for-4 night on the man advantage was merely an afterthought.

It was a thought, nonetheless.

"We had a couple of good opportunities, but I think that we have to get more pucks to the net, for sure," said Bruins forward Brian Rolston after the Game 1 win. "I think that Washington did a good job though. We're in the playoffs. Everybody's blocking shots. We have to find a way to get pucks through. That's a huge thing."

In their eight minutes on the power play, the Bruins had seven shots on goal. Some perfect opportunities were squandered through bouncing pucks and whiffed attempts at one-timers, but for the most part, the Bruins just didn't find enough openings to get enough puck movement.

It's a problem that didn't begin on Thursday night. The power play was a problem for this Bruins team last postseason as well. In fact, it was the worst in the playoffs.

But still, the B's have a ring to show for it. Mainly because their penalty kill was one of the best in the postseason.

Boston's penalty kill also prevented Washington's power play from scoring on Thursday night. The Capitals finished the game 0-for-2 on the man advantage.

Obviously the Bruins want to improve their power play, but knowing that they still have a chance to win a Stanley Cup -- and a game against the Capitals -- even if it doesn't improve, is somewhat relieving.

"Well, if you don't get scored on, that always helps, right? But you want to use your man advantage to score," said Bruins defenseman Dennis Seidenberg after Thursday's win. "We just didn't seem to get those lanes and enough movement in order to get shooting lanes. We just have to be better.

"If we have four or five power plays, you've got to score on one of them. But again, we did a good job on the penalty kill, and we just have to improve on the power play I think."

So the Bruins will get back to work on Friday. And they will work on the power play once again. But how does it improve in games?

"Sliding and having a lot of movement up top at the blue line," said Seidenberg. "Finding shooting lanes with guys in front of the net. The puck movement's got to be poised. We've got to make stick-to-stick passes and attack when it's the right time to attack. And go from there."

Those stick-to-stick passes weren't crisp and clean in Game 1, and the puck movement wasn't smooth. But a win's a win.

And while it seems a poor power play these days isn't the end of the world, it certainly will be something they'll continue to address.

"Our guys weren't seeing much tonight," said Julien. "There were some openings that we could have used. And then, we were passing the puck a little too much versus shooting it. When we made some of those passes, some of those guys should have ripped a shot right away, and instead we stopped it and we started looking for another play.

"It's unfortunate, because at practice this week, I thought our guys were moving the puck well," added Julien. "They were finding the openings that we didn't find tonight. So, we'll keep working on that, and hopefully make it a better situation. Because there's no doubt, if we don't win the game tonight, we'd be talking a lot about that being the reason we lost."

What makes a good manager? Rangers GM Jon Daniels explains


What makes a good manager? Rangers GM Jon Daniels explains

Across the way from John Farrell in the Rangers dugout this series is a manager who was voted the American League’s best in his first year at the helm, 2015.

Jeff Banister is one of three full-time skippers Rangers president Jon Daniels has had in his time running the Rangers.

Much has been made about how Sox president of baseball operations Dave Dombrowski views the manager’s job: that in-game management isn’t the most important, but running the clubhouse is.

How does another top baseball exec look at it? Daniels explained on the CSNNE Baseball Show podcast.

“I think manager’s an enormous role,” Daniels said. “Huge importance, I don’t buy into any of the sort of snarky commentary. … What I think sometimes gets a little blown out of proportions, at times whether it’s lineup construction, some of those — the in-game stuff, bullpen management’s very real. 

“Certainly the knowledge of the game is big. I think the ability to teach the game is big. But the No. 1 separator, in my opinion, is managing people. It’s really the word ‘manager.’ Helping to mold the culture in the clubhouse. Getting everybody on the same page. Young players, older players, everybody’s got different self-interests and to be able to get all those unique self-interests enough on the same page for a common goal while representing the club publicly, with the media, with the fans, and doing it under a pretty intense spotlight — I think that’s the biggest piece. Probably the hardest to truly evaluate unless you’re like, in the clubhouse or around the clubhouse on a daily basis and have a sense for who’s good at it, who’s not. That for me is like where guys really separate themselves.”

Asked if he’s ever surprised by player sensitivity, Daniels underscored what stage of life most ballplayers are in.

“Everybody’s different, right?” Daniels said. “So everyone has different insecurities, everyone has different level of ego, grown up in different circumstances. At the end of the day everybody wants a few basic things. You want to be like kind of communicated on a pretty forthright, direct way. You want to be treated with respect. Some guys can handle a little more criticism than others. 

“Some guys can handle a little more criticism from their peers than others can. I think that’s a manager’s job, to understand kind of the different approaches. Players, the guys are in their 20s. Think about where you were when you were first out of college … a few years off that, and your maturity level and really your lack of life experience in a lot of ways. And, kind of like evaluate under those circumstances: you’re going to be somewhat sensitive when you’re in that time period in your life.”

How well a manager handles a clubhouse isn’t something the Rangers, at least, have tried to quantify.

“More anecdotal for me. There may be ways,” Daniels said. “I haven’t really been part of that. If there is [a way] we haven’t figured it out, and we haven’t really tried to do, to be honest with you.”

For the full interview, listen to the podcast below

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

Brown (hip) and Johnson (shoulder) will play in Game 5

BOSTON – The Boston Celtics are far from being healthy heading into tonight’s must-win Game 5, but they will have all of their players available with the exception of Isaiah Thomas (hip).

Celtics rookie Jaylen Brown (right hip) was questionable heading into tonight’s game, but he told CSNNE.com earlier that he was planning to give it a go tonight.

Boston head coach Brad Stevens confirmed later on that the 6-foot-7 rookie would in fact play tonight.

His presence tonight is one of the many keys to Boston’s efforts to keep their season alive.

They trail Cleveland 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, with a loss tonight ending their season and with that, sending the Cavaliers to the NBA Finals for the third straight season.

Boston’s Amir Johnson (right shoulder) did not play in Game 4, but will be in uniform and available to play tonight. Stevens said the 6-foot-9 veteran was healthy enough to play in Game 4 but Stevens elected to keep him out of the game because he wanted Johnson to have more than one day to rest his shoulder before potentially playing him again.

In other injury-related news, Stevens confirmed comments made earlier in the day by Danny Ainge regarding Isaiah Thomas’ right hip injury which led to the Celtics shutting him down for the playoffs after the injury proved to be too much for him to play through at halftime of Boston’s Game 2 loss.

Speaking during 98.5 the Sports Hub’s Toucher & Rich show, Ainge said there was “a lot” of inflammation around the affected joint on Thomas’ right hip.

“It had gotten worse from the MRI’s he had before,” said Ainge who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”

Said Stevens: “It sounds to me like the course of action right now … is let the inflammation go down a little bit.”

Ainge said earlier that because of the inflammation, it will likely be at least a couple weeks before Thomas and the Celtics will know if he will require surgery or whether another form of treatment will be needed.

Because of that uncertainty, Ainge stressed that Thomas would not return to play in this series even if it were closer.

“No. No way. He’s done (for the season),” Ainge said.