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Julien: "We're almost there..."

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- Today's practice in Wilmington, Mass. had a bit of a minor hockey feel to it as four nets were set up (one at both ends, one at either end of the redline) and the Bruins cycled few different drills with foam youth hockey boards set up in the goal mouths, which forced the players to elevate their shots.

"We are trying to improve our scoring," said B's Head Coach Claude Julien. "Not a bad thing."

The B's worked hard during a long-ish session that included lots of shooting (with and without goaltenders) and sprints around the rink inside Ristuccia Memorial Arena.

"We've done it in the past," added Julien of the drills that included foam boards stacked to invite top corner shots. "It's not the first time and it's helped us along the way."

Also helpful is the B's light schedule this week.

The Bruins don't play until they begin a home-at-home series with the struggling Montreal Canadiens (losers of their last five) at the TD Garden on Thursday. The Habs, however, have games against the Panthers (tonight) and Flyers (Wednesday) before they travel to Boston.

Julien said that the time between games gives the Bruins an opportunity to work on some of their trouble spots.

"Again, I don't feel that we're that far off," said Julien. "We just have to clean up a couple of areas where it's going to allow us to score a little bit more.

"At the other end, too. Defensively, we can be better and a little stingier.

"So, if we can take care of both ends a little bit better, I think they'll balance themselves out where we're going to turn those losses into wins," he said.

The Bruins players were pleased to have had a day to themselves on Sunday and feel that the time away from the rink will pay dividends as well.

"Rest is a weapon, they say," said Shawn Thornton after Monday's practice. "Yeah, Claude's always been really good at managing our time with days off and all that stuff.

"Yesterday was nice, to not do anything, really; just get my head away from it. Because, obviously, you can tell that everybody was pretty [upset] after the game, so it was probably good to get away, refocus, and come back today, refreshed."

The anger Thornton spoke about was not in evidence in Julien's comments after Monday's practice.

Like his players, Julien believes the B's are close and instead of getting frustrated he is focused on the positives he's seen over the past week.

"We're almost there," said Julien. "And there's not a big, big difference between winning and losing and we just have to tip that scale on the right side

"That's what we're trying to do this week."
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