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A Day Off in Prague

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Prauge, Czech Republic -- Boston Bruins Head Coach Cladue Julien doesn't often show a softer side when it comes to his practice schedule, but the B's strong play over the last four periods of exhibition play (and the 12-2 score in favor of the Black & Gold in the last two games) seemed to have done the trick.

On Thursday, the Bruins will enjoy a day off the ice and will return to practice on Friday in preparation for the home-away-from-home series with the Phoenix Coyotes Saturday and Sunday in Prague's O2 Arena.

"I certainly liked the game we played [Tuesday]," said Julien after Tuesday's twirl at O2. "I thought we did a really good job moving the puck and creating speed through the neutral zone and tacking with some speed. I think our players became more and more comfortable with that aspect of the game.

"Consequently, it ended up giving us seven goals. So, I liked the direction that our team took yesterday or last night, and hopefully we can carry that as we move on this week."

Julien's players agreed.

"I think we're working on getting some more breakouts and stuff like that," said forward Nathan Horton, who picked a corner on a Liberec goalie on Tuesday night. "We're just trying to get better for Saturday."

On the blueline, things are looking rosy, as well.

"Yeah I think you just try to look at the positives," said Hunwick. "I think we came out and played pretty well.

"We wanted to play to our NHL level and for the most part I thought we did that."

"We're playing as a good team," said fellow defenseman Adam McQuaid, who cautioned that the Bruins would have to be at their best over the weekend.

"Phoenix had a great team last year and they have pretty much the same team this year," said McQuaid. "So [winning] is going to be a tough task, but we've been working hard here and I think we'll be ready."

As the regular season dawns, Julien was asked if he felt the Bruins could be a Stanley Cup contender.

"Well, obviously you like to think you’re going to be a contender every year," said Julien. "[In the meantime] you can’t do anything but want to come back with four points.

"I think it’s one of those situations, you know, that cliché of 'Take it one game at a time' and I think we’ve got a team that we’re playing here in Phoenix that had some good success last year; [with] a lot of the same team this year, so they’re going to be a real tough opponent.

"We really look at our team -- as far as wanting to be a contender -- as taking it one step at a time.

"In order to be a contender, you’ve got to get to the playoffs, and your focus has to be that," added Julien. "Again, we don’t know what’s ahead of us, whether we are a healthy team going through this season or whether we have some bumps along the way, but one way or another, you’ve got to get yourself into the playoffs.

"Once the playoffs are there, now you become a Stanley Cup contender, but you’ve got to get there first."
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