BostonBruins.com – For the first time in four straight All-Star games, both Pittsburgh Penguins forward Sidney Crosby (concussion) and Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin (opted out re: suspension) won’t be competing in the midwinter classic.
But Team Chara Head Coach Claude Julien's not worried that there will be a shortage of talent in Sunday’s game.
“We’re missing some really good hockey players, but there’s a lot of good hockey players in this league,” Julien said. “As you saw [Thursday] in the draft, there are not too many guys that were picked that I wouldn’t take on my team.
"This league has a lot of great hockey players, and even when there’s a few missing, there’s always a bunch of them that can step in and do just as well.”
Julien will have plenty of talented players on his team like Pavel Datsyuk, Evgeni Malkin and Patrick Kane, however, there isn’t any one particular player he’s looking forward to see playing – he’s excited for all of them.
There generally isn't much hitting in the All-Star game, and Julien thinks that will give all participants an opportunity to showcase their skills.
“You don’t have to worry about having their head down and having somebody run them, they’re able to get to do a little bit more with the puck,” Julien said. “I know sometimes people say the game doesn’t seem that intense, but what you do see in that game is the skill level of the players.
“If you look at it the right way and look at the things those players can do with the puck – the passes, the skating and what they do with the stick handling – it’s pretty impressive. I’m looking forward to seeing a lot of guys get an opportunity to do that in the game on Sunday.”
Another opportunity Julien is looking forward to is having some fun with the line combinations and setting up guys with other players they’d like to play with.
Trying to juggle so much talent on one team could be tough, but Julien is embracing the opportunity.
“This is a chance for me to relax as well and we’ll get that sorted out in the next day because the game is on Sunday,” Julien said. “We’re going to do things with our lines that are going to be fun.
"You want the players to enjoy who they’re playing with – some players might have requests so you listen to them. This is a chance for players to have their 10 cents worth when it comes to who they’re gong to play with.
"We’re going to look at it with an open mind and make the best of it,” he said.
Julien said he is eager to coach some of the best players in the league – guys that he has never had the opportunity to coach. At the same time, he’ll have some a pair of familiar faces in former Bruins Dennis Wideman and Phil Kessel.
“Years go by and it’s just always nice to see those guys again,” Julien said. “I had a real good conversation with Phil yesterday and he’s obviously excited, he loves where he is and that’s what it’s all about.
“We saw Dennis the other night [against Washington] and he used to be a real good player. It just goes to show you we had to make some moves in order to keep our team I guess not together, but make our team as competitive as possible.
"We lost some good players, but we got some good players in return that helped us win a Cup.”