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Northeast: Julien's oratory skills cannot be overlooked

Wednesday, 12.09.2009 / 10:25 AM / Division Notebooks

By James Murphy - NHL.com Correspondent

Who knew Claude Julien had a bit of Herb Brooks or Knute Rockne in him?
 
According to several Bruins players, prior to the Bruins-Maple Leafs game Saturday night, their head coach, and the reigning Jack Adams Award winner, decided it was time to deliver a pre-game speech similar to those of legendary coaches like Brooks and Rockne.
 
The Bruins had been embarrassed the night before, losing 5-1 at Montreal, and Julien felt the team needed to know how important it was for them to answer the bell Saturday against another division rival. The speech worked as the Bruins went out and dismantled Toronto, 7-2, before a raucous sellout crowd at the TD Garden in Boston.
 
"One thing we had to do was to redeem ourselves from last night," Julien said. "I knew that this team that we were playing tonight was going to be ready to play. They were here; they practiced, were well rested and were coming here to make a point. It was important for us to be ready to play our game. If you want to call it embarrassed, for us to lose 5-1, it was embarrassment to us."
 
None of the players were telling what Julien said, but according to center Marc Savard, who notched his third career hat trick in the win, there were plenty of notable quotes.
 
"I can't really pinpoint some of it, it was just a really inspirational one there," Savard said. "I don't know whose book it was out of, but it was pretty good. You will have to ask him for the quotes, I can't pick up any because there were so many."
 
Julien wasn't letting on what he said, but it sure worked.
 
Wideman, Morris miss practices -- Dennis Wideman (upper body) and Derek Morris (undisclosed) missed practice Monday and Tuesday and their status for Thursday's rematch with the Maple Leafs was unknown.
 
Brodeur impresses Miller --
Ryan Miller lost what could be a preview of an Olympic matchup between Team USA and Team Canada in Monday's 3-0 loss to New Jersey.
 
Miller had 34 saves and Martin Brodeur made 22 en route to his 103rd shutout, tying Terry Sawchuk for the most ever. Miller, who is a leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy this season, paid homage to one of the masters after the game.
 
"(Brodeur) is a great goalie who's accomplished a lot," Miller told the Buffalo News. "That's a lot of shutouts. They've built a team around him for a long, long time. It's what every goaltender wants -- the system to be based around your style. New Jersey plays it to a tee and he plays that position. He's a master at his craft."
 
Miller is 88 career shutouts behind Brodeur.
 
Keeping a secret --
Prior to playing the Bruins and on a night the Canadiens would celebrate their 100th birthday with a 75-minute pre-game ceremony at the Bell Centre, third-year Habs defenseman Ryan O'Byrne was told the organization was pulling a trick out of the Bruins' playbook.
 
Exactly 22 years and one day after Ray Bourque pulled his No. 7 sweater off and handed it to Phil Esposito, who was having his No. 7 raised to the rafters. From then on, Bourque was No. 77. The Canadiens were planning to do the same thing for Émile "Butch" Bouchard and his No. 3 that was to be retired in the pre-game ceremony.
 
O'Byrne was notified of the plan Friday morning and kept it a surprise throughout the day leading up to the big moment.
 
"They told me in the morning and I had to keep it from everyone all day," O'Byrne said. "The only people that knew were the trainer and the people organizing everything. It was hard, but I did it."
 
Just before Bouchard had his No. 3 lifted to the rafters of the Bell Centre, O'Byrne took off his jersey, unveiling his new number, 20 and handed the No. 3 jersey he had wore for his first 85 games with Montreal to the stunned and happy Bouchard. It is a moment O'Byrne will never forget.
 
"When I look back when my career's over, being part of this is something I'll always remember," O'Byrne said. "When I watch Canadiens games the next 60 years of my life, when I get a chance to look up into the rafters, I'll know I was part of that night and how special it was."
 
The team also paid tribute to former No. 16 Elmer Lach, with that number having already been taken out of circulation in 1975 for Henri Richard.
 
Cammalleri catching fire -- Mike Cammalleri was the big star on the ice for the Habs' birthday party Friday, scoring the game-winning goal and registering his first hat trick as a Canadien in the 5-1 win over the Bruins. Cammalleri then went out and got another game-winner in his team's 3-1 win over the Flyers Monday night and had 5 goals in three games after scoring the first goal in Montreal's 4-1 win over Ottawa Tuesday.
 
Alex Kovalev faced his former team the Montreal Canadiens Tuesday for the first time since signing a two-year deal with the Senators over the summer and was held without a point.
 
While Kovalev is a Senator for the next two seasons, he still remains very active in the Montreal community with charities and admits the city will always hold a special place in his heart.
 
"I've never had anything in my life to match what I experienced in Montreal," Kovalev told Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette, while in Montreal recently to launch Off-Ice Training, a two-disc fitness DVD to benefit his Kovalev and Friends for Kids Foundation.
 
"From the day I came to Montreal (from the Rangers in 2004), from my first shift to my last, you can't have a better life or experience. You can't really describe it."
 
Kovalev, who was often criticized for his enigmatic play on the ice, is struggling once again and along with other Senators players, was called out by Ottawa owner Eugene Melnyk recently.
 
"Elite players have to start playing their best," Melnyk told reporters when trying to figure out his team's poor play. Kovalev, who hasn't scored since Oct. 29, accepted blame and seemed to have no problem with Melnyk's words.
 
"If those words are going to me, I'll accept it. Not in a bad way, but the right way," said Kovalev. "I know I have to step up to play better, there's no question about it."
 
Kovalev did have 3 assists in his last three games heading into the game with the Canadiens Tuesday, but coach Cory Clouston would like him to shoot more.
 
"We want (Kovalev) to simplify his game and not always try to be a passer," Clouston said. "Obviously, that's his forte, but he also has to bring his shot and utilize it a little bit more."
 
Maple Leafs up their game -- With the exception of a 7-2 blowout loss at Boston Saturday, the Toronto Maple Leafs have been playing much better as of late and are 6-2-2 heading into Wednesday night's game against the New York Islanders. The Leafs also are within striking distance of the playoffs, trailing the Canadiens by seven points.
 
"We've stayed as positive as we possibly could, and now I think we're gradually clawing our way back into the race," coach Ron Wilson said.
 
Apparently the mood of the dressing room has changed as well and players are having fun again.
 
"There are more happy, smiling faces. It's fun to be around the locker room. It's fun and it's building confidence," said goaltender Vesa Toskala after his team's 5-2 win over Atlanta.
 
"I think everybody is going to build off this and get more confident," forward Matt Stajan said. "We want to be a confident team on home ice and we knew we had to get a win here tonight to get the ball rolling. We've got to build on it now."
 
Gustavsson on the mend -- Goaltender Jonas Gustavsson spoke to the media for the first time since having to leave a game at Montreal Dec. 1 due to problems related to an irregular heartbeat. Gustavsson subsequently had his second surgery in three months to correct the problem and is still not back in the lineup. Earlier this week he described the Montreal incident.
 
"I was tired," Gustavsson said describing why he was bent over, with his head down, when he left the ice in Montreal at the end of the first period. "I was working hard for the period ... and it was a fight to get my energy back. In between breaks (in the game), I couldn't get my energy back. Even (in the intermission) I felt I could get it back, but (his heart rate) didn't (decrease), so they (doctors) said it would be best to go to the hospital."
 
Gustavsson is expected to be out until at least the end of this week.
Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals