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Encouraging Signs

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
WILMINGTON, MA -- The B's embark on their final long road trip of the season on Wednesday, and given the uneven nature of their work since the beginning of the new year, Head Coach Claude Julien is looking for his club to carry over the momentum garnered via big wins over Philadelphia and Toronto even as they travel cross country for stops in San Jose, Los Angeles and Anaheim.

"I think it’s just maintaining what we went through the last couple of games," said the B's bench boss after the club's off-ice workout on Tuesday. "Our last road trip wasn’t a very good one, so we certainly have to make sure we get a better one out of this one.

"When you look at the teams that you’re playing right now, to me the best one right now is Anaheim who is out of the playoffs, and the other two are right there knocking on the door. So I think we’re going into a territory where there’s a lot of desperation, so we’re going to have certainly some good challenges.

"But to me, if we play the same we have over the past couple of games it [should be] a good challenge for us," he said.

Particularly after a frenetic and frustrating four-game losing streak, just putting back-to-back wins seemed monumental for a club that had stumbled at many points since the NHL's holiday break. However, even a decisive 8-0 win wasn't the defining moment that Julien had sought since the B's tore through the NHL during November and December.

In fact, for Julien, the defining moments of the B's recent turnaround were less dramatic than the touchdown and two-point conversion Boston dropped on the Maple Leafs to complete a sweep of the season's series with Toronto.

"I don’t know if decisive was that important, more than our team effort and the way we played," said Julien. "I think that was important.

"We came out there and competed, and for me the toughest thing for teams...when you have a lead like you do going into the third period, you have a tendency to just go out there and go through the motions. But our guys did a great job sticking to the game plan and minimizing the mistakes and making the smart plays for having that type of lead.

"I think it was pretty impressive for our guys to focus like that, so that’s the encouraging signs of what I’ve seen as a coach and heading out to the West Coast."

And Julien really didn't want to talk about the B's new found scoring. Until the B's are firing on all cylinders going into the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Boston's head coach remains unsatisfied.

"I just don’t like getting ahead of myself," admitted Julien. "And it’s not about being cautious, it’s about bringing it every night and every night should be the same challenge moving forward here.

"We’ve got 10 games left, and basically what you got to do is keep playing the way you have and try to improve. Because we all know when once that puck drops in the playoffs, you want to be in the best position possible in the standings.

"But, you also want to be playing some of your best hockey and we can’t expect to kind of struggle for two months, and then two games later think everything is okay," he said.

That's why this week in California is pivotal to the 2011-12 Bruins.

"There won’t be any easy games there," repeated Julien. "I’m looking forward to it."
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