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Don't Call it a Slump

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
TAMPA BAY, FL -- Although he's levied some pointed criticisms of his team over the past week, this morning Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien reminded the hockey media covering tonight's game in Tampa Bay that his club isn't in dire straits.

"Yeah, we've got to be careful here," said Julien. "We don’t consider ourselves in a slump. I think our game has just slipped a little bit.

"Our standard is pretty high and we’re just trying to get back to that standard."

And although last night's 3-2 shootout win was better, it wasn't exactly up to par for the Black & Gold.

"For some players, the compete level was pretty high but for others we expect to be better in that area as well," said Julien, who still wants more "sharpness" from his B's.

"We let the guys slide behind us and that’s uncharacteristic of our hockey club," he said. "We usually have a pretty good feel where guys are on the ice – we just have to push ourselves to better in those areas and improve."

Given the history between the clubs, and a hard fought playoffs versus the Lightning last spring, Julien hopes that improvement comes tonight.

Tampa Bay might be scuffling a bit, but the B's know that there is plenty of talent on their opponent's roster.

"Yeah you have to respect the offensive part of their game," said Julien. "You've got [Vincent] Lecavalier, [Martin] St. Louis and [Steven] Stamkos – even [Ryan] Malone.

"They have some other players with speed -- [like Dominic] Moore -- he seems to play well against us."

The B's gave up four breakways last night in Florida, and Julien doesn't want to see any further slippage on the blueline, particularly because goals could be at a premium tonight in the Tampa Bay Times Forum.

"We have to put pucks in an area we can forecheck and get it back and spend us much time in their end as we can," said Julien.

And staying out of the penalty box will be another key as well.

"I think we’re a good even-strength kind of team so when we can stay out of the box its an advantage for us," said Julien. "They have a good power play, some skilled players and guys that can score goals so no doubt, playing disciplined against this team is something you talk about before a game."

To Skate or Not to Skate
The B's watched video this morning and only Steve Kampfer (healthy scratch), Brad Marchand (suspension) and Tuukka Rask (last night's starter) took the ice.

Julien admitted that he was working to keep effects of a heavy schedule in check as the B's play the second half of a back-to-back tonight.

"With the time we got in last night and with what that game means tonight, [then] we move on with another game in Jersey Thursday and a back-to- back on the weekend - it’s a tough schedule," said Julien. "So at one point, what you can accomplish by practicing or going on ice in morning skate doesn’t outweigh the rest and energy needed for a game.

"Even though our game isn’t where you want to be," added Julien, "you have to make those decisions and get guys to do the right things when it counts."
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