BOSTON, MA -- Even before the club knew their opponent in the upcoming first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the Bruins knew that they'd have to start planning their Cup title defense ASAP.
"I’ll [start] tomorrow," said Boston Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien after the B's 4-3 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres in TD Garden. "I mean, we’re off tomorrow -- that’s the players, not the coaching staff.
"The minute we find out our opponents, we start doing the video work and...we’ve already done some of it, but depending on some changes along the way.
"Obviously there’s two teams. It’s either Ottawa or Wash [Washington], so we’ve got a lot of that work done, and when it’s solidified, then we’re going to start, we’re going to finish it up, and by Monday, we should be on top of things."
With the Senators loss to New Jersey, Washington's win over the Rangers and Florida's defeat of Carolina, the B's will take on the Caps to start the first round.
But no matter the opponent, Julien was pleased with his club's recent work.
"I don’t think we liked seeing ourselves in the seventh spot, but the one thing that really helped us through it is, I think we started sensing the playoffs were getting close, and we knew that we had to play better to be a good playoff team," said Julien. "As I said numerous times, I think it was more of a mental struggle this year than anything...because our guys, at one point, we looked tired because, in our minds, we felt tired.
"I think once the excitement of the playoffs started getting closer, we started seeing the playoffs around the corner, all of a sudden, we started getting excited again," continued Julien. "And you say, ‘Oh, look, they don’t look like they’re tired. They look like they’ve got a lot of energy.’
"Well, I gave them days off, but those days off alone wouldn’t have been enough, so I think the part right now is our psyche, and if we’re excited to go into the playoffs, then we’re going to be just as good as any other team."
And the team behind the team continues to perform, as well.
"I’m one of those guys that has always said that you’re as good as the people that surround you," said Julien of his assistant coaches Doug Houda, Doug Jarvis and Geoff Ward. "You’ve heard me say that before, and they do make me look good because they do a great job of gathering information that I need, and we sit together, we look at it.
"But they do a lot of work, and their relationship with players is also important. And all four of those guys -- because I include Bob Essensa, our goalie coach -- have a great relationship with our players. Obviously I have to be a little different as a head coach. I’m the one that has to make those unpopular decisions, but they don’t, and their job is to make sure they’ve got the trust of the players and the confidence of the players.
"They spend a lot of time doing the one-on-one work with video with those guys. They come in every day, and players come in and say, ‘Can you sit in with me and look at my shifts?’ and they’re always working with that kind of stuff while I’m trying to deal with other issues."
However, Julien hopes that his Stanley Cup experience has made him a better coach as well.
"Once you’ve got that experience, it makes you a better coach, and the experience I gained last year, I certainly hope to be able to utilize to my advantage this year," he said.