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Head Coach Claude Julien Postpractice Transcript from 4/17

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
BOSTON BRUINS POSTPRACTICE QUOTES

Thursday, April 17, 2014

BOSTON BRUINS HEAD COACH CLAUDE JULIEN PRESS CONFERENCE AT 12:30 PM
On the health of his lineup and whether forwards Daniel Paille and Chris Kelly are out for Game 1…
I don’t know that it’s official yet, on any of that stuff. Today was another day where we added another player so we’ll see what tomorrow brings. It’s hard for me to start giving you my lineup when I don’t know what’s going to happen day to day, so hopefully it continues to improve, which it has this week and we’ll go from there.

On forward Loui Eriksson heading into his first playoffs since 2007-08…
Well, you expect everybody to bring something to the table. Obviously for Loui [Eriksson], hopefully it’s an exciting time of year for him since like you said, he hasn’t been there for a while. But I don’t know that you’re expecting everybody to be different. We had a pretty good team this year that was pretty consistent. I know it ramps up in the playoffs so we just hope that everybody ramps it up. So Loui’s a good player. He’s a good two-way player, he’s a smart player that’s been playing his best two-way hockey in this second half of the year and so hopefully that continues.

On what he expects from forward Justin Florek playing with Carl Soderberg and Loui Eriksson…
I don’t know yet. Again, they’ve played one game together and I can’t answer that because I haven’t seen them play enough together. But all I know is that he’s been a good player when he’s been called up a few games, and he’s had a few games in Providence, where he’s got, like I said the other day, almost 20 goals. So sometimes you put guys together but you haven’t seen them much, so you hope it’s going to turn out well. But like everybody else, I’m not guaranteeing anything because I don’t know either. So hopefully it works out, and if not, as a coach, you’ve got to do something and find a solution.

On managing forward Reilly Smith’s nerves…
Well, I don’t think that he gets overly excited to a point where it effects him. He’s pretty even keeled. Like I said before, if there’s anything, he has a tendency to get hard on himself and he demands and expects a lot, but I don’t think this is going to be an issue for him. And he’s got two linemates there that have enough experience that they’ll be able to help him out along the way there, if that ever happens. But I’ll deal with that situation if I see it happening. It’s easy enough to have a conversation with players — I’ve done it before, had lots of practice last year with those young guys coming up from Providence and playing in their first playoffs, and we handled it well. So again, those are not things that I anticipate being major issues.

On what he expects from forward Carl Soderberg this year in the playoffs …
Well obviously, this year, he’s played with us from start to finish. He’s had a chance to get used to his linemates. He’s had time to get used to playing our game and everything just has fit in much better for him. Last year, had we had him probably a month earlier, we probably would have had a different Carl [Soderberg] by the end of the year. But he got here so late, it was hard for him to really get comfortable and fit in. And so this year, we anticipate him being a much better impact player than he was last year just because of that.

On managing his roster during practices, given that players have been missing…
Yeah, it’s created a bit of a challenge. There’s no doubt we could’ve started certain things a little earlier but we had to wait for players to get back and so on and so forth. But we’ve got everything accomplished. We just had to kind of move things around a little bit, and as you saw in the first practice, with three lines and five D’s, it didn’t give us a chance to work on too much. But yesterday we did a lot and then today again we just wanted to touch up certain things of our game, and right now, it’s about really getting ready for Game 1. So as much as it was a challenge, in my mind, we’ve managed to do what we wanted to. So hopefully it doesn’t set us back for Game 1.

On the way a strong third line has changed the team’s game this season…
Well, I think in every playoffs, you have surprises, you have challenges. I feel comfortable with the fact that we have some depth at scoring this year, a little bit more than we did last year with those guys that you mentioned. But again, scoring is one thing — you know, we really limited Pittsburgh to very few goals with a lot of goal scorers there. So again, nothing is guaranteed in the playoffs. You got to work for your goals. You still — just because you got them during the season doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going to get them automatically in the playoffs. But our guys work hard, and they continue to do the things they were doing all year and push a little harder. There’s no doubt we have the ability to have some depth at scoring, but again, it’s up to us to go and show it and not so much talk about it.

On whether he expects that having a strong third line will improve their scoring in the playoffs… 
Well, it’s a good example of what you just asked about scoring. It doesn’t guarantee you’ll have scoring. So again, we thought our scoring was pretty well spread out, and even our fourth line contributed some important goals this year, so the regular season has been good in regards for that. And all I’m going to tell you is that we need to bring that into the playoffs in the same way and we’ve got to continue doing that if we expect to have success.

On how much Zdeno Chara’s stability means to the team…
Well, Zdeno [Chara] has always been a big factor for us, there is no doubt. But I’d hate to just focus on one guy. I know you're probably focused on him but there are a lot more in our dressing room. Zdeno really stabilizes our dressing room and he’s obviously a major part of it but he is has done a good job with surrounding himself by people that will help keep this team afloat, keep the players grounded and focused. We’ve had challenges this week as coaches, we’ve had to adapt like any other situation during the year and try and make it the best possible scenario. And with those guys in the room understanding that and doing their job as well, it just makes it a lot easier. Those guys have been known to do that in the past and make sure that once we walk out of that room there is still a certain level or accountability amongst themselves.

On if he sees Mike Babcock preparing for the young defenders after working with him in the Olympics…
Well, I mean it’s only normal that the coach is going to try and attack an area that maybe he feels is an area he needs to attack, just like I am with their team. So it is matter of just going out there and playing their game and then playing your game according to what you think is going to win hockey games here. So our young Ds have held up extremely well ever since a guy like [Dennis] Seidenberg has been out. We’ve had guys like [Johnny] Boychuk hurt for a little bit too and we had Zdeno [Chara] missing some games when he went to the Olympics and we’ve held up well. So I am confident about our young guys, whether he things it is a weakness or not I don’t know, but as far as I‘m concerned it is not a weakness of ours.

On David Krejci on the power play…
Well, we felt that he could play that position. He has a good vision and the one thing that we had asked him to do though from the back end was when he saw a shooting lane, to shoot the puck. Which he did but he is a great play maker and we figured with Zee [Zdeno Chara] up front, put some guys that could shoot on both sides of him then he would be a really good disher. He could find those shooters so we tried him here without necessarily saying we knew for a fact that it was going to work. But it has worked out well and I think he has felt pretty comfortable there in that position and obviously our power play improved with him being there. So that’s basically how it happened. When you look at a player, he’s not the type that will shoot a ton from down low more that he was going to be a play maker and we thought he had a better opportunity to make plays up top than he did down low.

On if there was any message from going seven games in the first round last year that he can translate to this year…
Well we talked about that earlier this week. It’s not just last year, it was the year before and the year before that. Every first round for us has been a challenge but again, I don’t necessarily assess that to our issue here. It’s an issue that has been around the league where – I said yesterday I heard about 40% of the series are upsets in the first round so it happens to a lot of teams. You have teams that have high expectations; you have teams that have nothing to lose and everything to gain. So that certainly makes that first round a challenge in itself. So we certainly learned from all those game sevens that we’ve had to go through in the first round that it is important to be on top of your game at the end of the year and not limp in to the playoffs, which I thought we did at times after we solidified our playoff spot. So it’s a matter of keeping ourselves focused and ready and not have to regain those good habits that you lost in those last two or three games because they didn’t matter.

On how valuable Loui Eriksson is being comfortable with different line combinations…
Well it’s the reason we were able to move him around and see how he would deal those different situations. So it certainly gives me a real clear indication of what I need to do if need be. So that’s basically what you saw there at the end of the year. He’s been great, I think he has been one of the big reasons that that third line has really picked up their game in the second half because he’s come in there with Carl [Soderberg] with chemistry and Kells [Chris Kelly] is such a smart two way player that he has really fit in well with those guys. To be able to move him up and see that he was still contributing on other lines was a big plus for us to know that near the end of the year.

On if an excess of respect can hinder the team’s ability to tap into the strong emotions…
Well, I don’t believe in never respecting the other team. It’s not because the Detroit Red Wings – They’re in the playoffs because they’re a good team. That is the respect that you give them but that doesn’t mean you go out there and play on your heels or play on the end of your stick because you have a respect for them. It just means you now you have to be ready. I think that it is pretty obvious to us that they want to play the underdog card which is not surprising. We just have to go out there and not care about whatever they say. And when we say respect, it’s probably because we’re not letting us fool us with that underdog card and they don’t have the players, etc. so we just go out there and play our game. I know he has players and he has players that have done extremely well for him. The guy that, right now, is a question mark for him is [Henrik] Zetterberg. Other than that, those young players have done a good job even if – the [Daniel] Clearys and the [Todd] Bertuzzis may be question marks for them as far as being in the lineup but I think he has a pretty good lineup and he has a lot of choices. So that’s how I look at it.

On Reilly Smith playing up high on the power play…
He did well, obviously. He scored some big goals there with Carl [Soderberg], with those plays. But also, I thought he has good vision, he has poise with the puck and the reason we put him there was because of that. We felt he really had a good view of the ice and could find players early on. When I talked to him the one day, we had considered maybe him being one of those guys when he had told me when he had played that position in the American [Hockey] League. It kind of reassured me that it was worth the try and we started the year with him to see what we could get out of it and it was good enough that we kept him there.
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