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Julien: 'We've Just Got to Battle Back'

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BROSSARD, QC - After falling down 2-1 in the series on Tuesday night at the Bell Centre, the Bruins used Wednesday to regroup.

Most of them stayed off the ice, with only eight Bruins skating at the Canadiens' practice facility outside the city in Brossard. Included in that group were the 'Merlot Line' forwards - Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell and Jordan Caron.

Matt Bartkowski, Corey Potter, Dennis Seidenberg, Justin Florek, Chad Johnson also joined the trio on the ice.

For Thornton, his 'midnight rule' was in full effect - lament the 4-2 loss until heading to bed, and then turn the page the next day.

"Yeah, we just came to the rink today, got a little sweat, guys getting their rest, and I’m sure we’ll have some video and then just focus on tomorrow," said Thornton.

As the Bruins skated, Head Coach Claude Julien spoke with reporters gathered at the practice rink.

What's the sense he gets from his group right now?

"Well I think it's pretty obvious. You know, we're a group that's confident but we also have guys that right now are a little frustrated at themselves, and they know they have to be better, and they're going to be better tomorrow - and that's the confidence we have in our group," said Julien.

"That's the way we've been in the past and you've got to rely on those guys to come up tomorrow and play the kind of game that they can. It's a 2-1 series, it's not the end of the world here. We've just got to battle back."

"Again, there's no reason to panic. We haven't in the past, and we're not about to panic now."

And that's just it. The word 'experience' comes up every day.

"We need to lean on those experiences we have as a group, and as individuals," said Campbell. "You know, things change quickly, so with a better effort, that's what we're looking for tomorrow night, and we'd like this to be a long series, so it has to come from within and there has to be a better effort."

Eliminating Breakdowns

In two of the past three games, the Bruins haven't had poor starts. Even in Game 3, with the crowd likely to give the Habs extra jump at the outset, the Bruins weren't necessarily back on their heels.

But it didn't matter. Montreal got out to a 1-0, and then 2-0 lead, capitalizing on the Bruins' mistakes and making their own breaks.

"I think it’s everyone on the ice," Thornton had said following the loss.

And though Tuukka Rask was hung out to dry on all three goals - two on the breakaway and one with a wide open net backdoor - he found himself at fault, too, on not preventing the scoring chances.

"I think it is just awareness and the sharpness of our guys," Julien said Wednesday. "When you look at the goals, it’s just the lack of awareness or guys behind our Ds and just those kinds of things. So it is correctible but we have to be sharper in being able to find these guys."

It comes down to what the players often deem "the little things."

"I think we just have to maintain more focus on the details," said General Manager Peter Chiarelli, who also addressed the media in Brossard.  "I was asked about finding [shooting] lanes. To me, that’s a detail. You’ve got to be able to see the lane and to move to where the lane is."

"You know, sustaining forecheck. For us, it’s really meat and potatoes for us, it’s sustaining our forecheck, wearing teams down and when we’re on top of our game, that’s what we do."

Getting Shots Through

It's nothing new, especially during playoffs, to stress getting shots through to the net. The urgency is higher during the postseason, and a player is willing to do whatever's necessary. That includes the upped amount of shot blocking. It's the same on both sides, and for every team in the playoffs.

The Habs made 29 blocks last game, and one important one by Mike Weaver led to Daniel Weise's back-breaking breakaway goal to make it 3-0 in the second period.

"They have blocked a lot of shots. I think it is pretty obviously when you look at the stat sheet yesterday, they blocked more shots than what we got through," said Julien.

The Bruins ended the night with 28 recorded shots on goal.

"Certainly that is an area, again, you know, we talked about trying to play with the lead and we talked about getting shots through and those are all adjustments that you have to make here as you move forward."

"I guess it comes down to awareness," said Campbell. "Playoff hockey is a lot tighter and people are sacrificing a lot more, so it's a lot tougher to get shots through."

"It's awareness of where bodies on the ice and puck management, puck placement. If there's a guy in a lane, maybe a better option is to put it behind the net. It's decision-making at that point."

Making Their Own Breaks

The Canadiens have capitalized on their opportunities. It's happened at times throughout the season, when the Bruins have made what we label as "uncharacteristic" mistakes and defensive lapses.

"We've got to limit theirs as much as possible. They’re obviously a dangerous team — we’ve talked about that at length for the last couple of years, and for ourselves, they’re doing a great job of blocking shots," said Thornton.

Boston has to work to make their own breaks.

"We've got to figure out a way to get pucks through to him and do a good job of clearing up the front of the net, too, so we’re going to have to be strong and capitalize on some of those rebounds because he’s a really good goalie and he’s not giving up too many on the first shot."

Getting the Lead

Through the series' first three games, the Bruins have played with the lead for just about 11 and a half minutes. For a team that's strength is protecting leads, the Black & Gold haven't given themselves much of a chance in that area to this point.

"I think obviously we want to start — I think that every team would tell you the same thing, no team’s going into a game saying, I hope I’m down 1-0 to start," said Thornton. "So yes, we’d like to score the first one, but like I’ve said, it’s uncharacteristic of us to give that [type of goal] up."

Same Song and Dance

From game to game, there are certain themes that always come up. If you're hearing "one game at a time" over and over and over again, it's because that's how every team operates. It's what breeds success.

When asked if Game 4 was a "must-win" for the Bruins, Julien responded, "I think every game is important."

"If you ask LA that same question, what would they have answered? They came back and won four straight. So I think it’s game per game. We look at it maybe differently and we like to look at it game per game and yesterday was a must-win for us. So they are all must-wins. We go one game at a time."

"It’s 2-1. We’re down. We’d rather be up," said Thornton. "But we’ve been here before."

"We need a better effort. We've got to cut down on our mistakes and obviously capitalize on our chances. I think playoffs is kind of the same thing over and over again — you’re getting the same quotes, but it’s for a reason."

Ultimately, it's not about the words anyways.

"I think we've just got to get back to playing our way," said Thornton. "Just play. Just go out and play. Just like in boxing, just got to let your hands go, that type of thing. Just 'go.'"

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