-- After two seasons behind the Boston Bruins
' bench, Claude Julien
believes he has the pulse of his team down pat.
That's why he feels confident about giving the Bruins the day off -- no hockey-related activities whatsoever -- just hours after he said that same club played one of its worst games in recent memory in losing Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals to the Carolina Hurricanes
, 3-2, in overtime Wednesday night at the RBC Center.
With that result, Carolina now holds a 2-1 lead in the best-of-7 series heading into Friday's Game 4 here (7:30 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN, RIS). Boston knows it will need a far better effort to win Game 4, yet Julien is very comfortable with his decision to allow his team to regroup individually and get away from the game for 24 hours.
"That's what you are paid to do," Julien said Thursday during his morning availability at the team's hotel. "You are paid to make decisions on what you think should be done for your team."
Julien insists his team, the highest seed remaining in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, needs to walk away from the game, away from their shortcomings, for a day to get back on track. He believes his team will report for Friday's morning skate fresh and re-committed to the fight that awaits in Game 4.
"Whether (I'm) right or wrong, we'll find out soon enough," Julien said. "I guess I shouldn't even say right or wrong. I know what I did is the right thing to do today, no matter what happens tomorrow. This is the right thing to do for this team."
Boston certainly needs a day off mentally to get its head around the challenge that Carolina is presenting. Wednesday night, Bruins goalie Tim Thomas
was almost incredulous as he detailed how Carolina is outworking Boston on a consistent basis, especially in the past two games.
"They are playing like the hungrier team right now," Thomas said. "For most of this year, even during the regular season, we were the hungrier team and that is why we got a lot of our victories. For example, in the Montreal series, you could just kind of tell we wanted it more. Right now, Carolina's looking like they want it more. It's not what I expected, you know."
Since Boston's 4-1 victory in Game 1, Carolina has outscored the Bruins 6-2, outshot them 77-48, and scored the only two special-teams goals in the two games -- a shorthander in Game 2 and Eric Staal
's tying power-play tally in Wednesday night's game.
While mental health is a priority, the Bruins also need to physically heal. Defenseman Andrew Ference
was injured in Game 3, missing the third period and overtime. Forward Blake Wheeler
also was knocked after being hit by a Carolina shot.
Julien had no update on either player, saying each would be further evaluated later in the day Thursday. Their status will determined at Friday's morning skate. Regardless of who is able to dress for the Bruins on Friday, Julien is curious to see how his team responds to the first true adversity it has faced in the playoffs.
"Right now, we have struggled the last couple of games," Julien said. "There's up and downs in the season. You win a game and you are Stanley Cup contenders; you lose a game and you are in trouble. That's what you have to face every day. We just have to believe in ourselves and go out and do it. We're very capable of doing that."