Boston, MA -- The morning before facing the best team in the NHL, Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien was focused on the task that lay ahead.
The Detroit Red Wings lead the league with an unparalleled 82 points, but Coach Julien isn’t thinking about their place in the NHL standings.
“They’re still human,” he said. “It’s a matter of respecting them as a good team, but there’s still a game to be played on the ice.
“I think that the key there is that you’ve got to respect them, but you don’t respect them to the point where you…stop playing your game.”
Even so, Julien knows that the standings don’t lie, and his team needs to be prepared for a hard game tonight.
“They’re highly skilled, [and there’s] lots of experience in that hockey club,” Julien said. “The skill level there is extremely high, and if you allow them time to make plays, they will make plays.”
He attributed the team’s skill to the stability of the Red Wings franchise.
“Chris [Chelios, Red Wings defenseman], is about my age. He should be coaching right now, not playing,” Coach said. “That’s amazing how good of shape this guy’s in.
“It just goes to show the type of experience that they’ve got, and the type of leadership they’ve got on that team.
“I think that a lot of it goes back the stability that they’ve had from upstairs, from [General Manager Ken Holland]…and the guys that they’ve elevated” he contined. “You’ve got to give credit to their scouting staff; they’ve done a great job at bringing in some young players every time they lose guys.
“They’ve always go reinforcement coming in that are impact players, and they’ve done a great job that way.
“The core group is always there…and it makes for a solid franchise.”
After practice this morning, Julien discussed where the Red Wings skills lie.
“I think they come at you real hard,” Coach said. “This is a team that, skill-wise, they’re extremely good.
“You look at their game, and very seldom will you be reaching their blueline where they’ll have less than three players waiting for you there.
“At the same time, they’ve probably got one of the best transition games going from their back ends to their forwards,” he added.
Coach was all set with a plan of attack for tonight’s match-up.
“They defend well, and they don’t give you much, so it’s important that you stay away from turnovers,” he said.
“Once it gets to the forwards…we’ve got to be careful,” Julien continued,” because if you turn pucks over at the blue line, they’re going to be waiting for you.
“It’s an opportunity for us to have the perfect week, and obviously a big week for us, so it’s in our own hands,” he said. “It’s up to use to dictate how it’s going to end by our performance tonight.
“We’re not going to be defending all night,” Coach finished. “We need to play to win a hockey game here. It’s a matter of making sure that positionally you’re sound tonight and that you take away their time, and you take away their space.