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Bruins Monday Notebook

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Despite some uneven spots on Sunday, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien gave his team a day off on Monday.

With four games in six nights, the team will certainly enjoy the time off, but the way some of the players and lines are clicking, there might be some members of the Black & Gold who would rather just play Tuesday's game a day earlier.

The Hub, Rides, Wheels and Krech
Boston Bruins' Blake Wheeler (26) shoots around St. Louis Blues' Manny Legace, center, to score his second goal of the first period as the Blues' Brad Boyes (22) looks on in an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
Julien spoke about the Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, and Michael Ryder combination’s strong effort against the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

"All three guys were really good tonight," said the head coach, postgame. "Krejci had three the first period. Wheeler had a couple and Ryder scored that big goal in the second period to give us the lead again."

Wheeler's effort yielded two goals, including a beautiful shorthanded effort and Julien said that those goals would continue to come for the young forward.

"There were a couple of things [that he did] tonight that we’ve talked about and it turned out well for him," he said. "We've put him in [important] positions and he's killing penalties.

"I think the better he gets defensively, the better player he is going to be. We all know how good he is offensively -- he’s doing some great things with his size and his strength on the puck.

“But also being able to play well going to help him grow into an even better player."

No feeling sorry for themselves...
With the losses of skilled, veteran players to injury, Julien said that the Bruins have made it a point not to delve too far into talking about injuries.

"We didn’t elaborate on injuries or talk about it, and we didn’t last year either," he said. "We didn’t want to use that as a crutch or an excuse and we kind  of just go about our business.

"I think the guys just realize...that you've just got to kind of step it up, but at the same time, play a smarter game."

Sobotka scored
Boston Bruins' Vladimir Sobotka, center, of the Czech Republic, is congratulated by teammates Mark Stuart (45) and Martin St. Pierre (47) after his third-period goal against the St. Louis Blues in an NHL hockey game Sunday, Dec. 21, 2008, in St. Louis. The Bruins won 6-3. (AP Photo/Bill Boyce)
Stepping up and playing smarter has become the norm throughout the lineup, but on Sunday night Julien saved his biggest praise of the night for the Vladimir Sobotka, Martin St. Pierre and Shawn Thornton trio.

"[The Blues] kept throwing [Keith] Tkachuk against them," said Julien. "And, at first, I took them off, but then, the way they played, there was no reason to take them off.

"I thought [the St. Pierre line] got the better of that line and didn’t give them any scoring chances.

"They kept the puck in the other teams end and, obviously, scoring that goal at the end is proof of that. Anytime you can rely on players like that to come in and play that big of a role it certainly helps your team win hockey games."

Hardly Road Weary
One note that’s been overlooked during the Bruins 13-game win streak at home is that the club’s home record is a formidable 11-4-3.

"The record on the road is a record we're really proud of," said Julien. "Going into buildings where teams know you are a top team in your conference, they are always ready for you, which makes it even tougher.

"So that's a credit that the guys may not get enough of…When the big teams come into our building, we want to prove ourselves, and show everyone that we are capable of playing with those teams.

“So, I know how we got motivated by those kinds of games and I guess the roles are reversed a little bit, where teams are gunning for us."

Keepin’ them guessin’
Julien finished his media scrum with a question about his goaltending, but as usual, the Bruins head coach kept some smiling reporters guessing with his playful rebuttal of their attempts to figure out who will be in goal against the Devils -- the suddenly red-hot Manny Fernandez or the tried and true Tim Thomas.

"You want to know what’s going on next game, don’t you?" said Julien with a laugh.

"I've got a whole day to think about it," he said. "How’s that for an answer?

After a beat he added, "But good try."
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