BOSTON, MA -- With a full seven point lead on the Bruins, the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers come into town on Tuesday looking to pad their lead in the playoff standings.
But on Monday, as his club prepared for the big matchup, Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said he would urge his skaters to focus more on their own gameplan, rather than what the New Yorkers will bring to the ice.
"Nashville was a really good team coming in and our focus was, 'How well are we going to play?' I think we have to do the same thing here against the Rangers," said Julien, whose Bruins stand second in the East with a 34-17-2 record. "We understand what their strengths are and everything else and you kind of bring that to the attention of our team. But nonetheless, it’s really how good and how hard are we going to be able to execute."
Not that the B's should ignore the hard scrabble qualities of the Rangers, who continuously throw their bodies in front of opposing shooters and who boast one of the best goaltenders in the NHL.
"We've go to do a lot of things in regards to that – they block shots from everywhere," said Julien. "That’s part of their identity, and part of their strength and you see everybody jumping everywhere to block shots.
"We have to find a way to get our shots through, which is what happened last game. I thought we had a lot of opportunities to shoot but there was a lot of them blocked, there was a lot of them got through.
"But nonetheless, we have to try to get more through than we did last time," he said.
Last time, the Rangers handed the Bruins a heartbreaking 3-2 loss in overtime and have continued to build on their lead in the conference standings ever since. However, Julien said that he doesn't want the B's to make the matchup into more than they need to.
"I think everybody knows who they are, how good they are and what they represent," explained Julien, who added, "I’m not necessarily talking about a must win, but a must good game is what we need.
"We need to be able to repeat what we did last game [against the Predators] – that’s the most important thing."
And the importance of that return to Boston Bruins hockey was not lost on anyone.
"We could of lost last game had we not scored that goal late in the game, and I would’ve said we’re on the right track here because of the way we played," said Julien.