May 10th, 2011 by

It’s time for Bruins fans to give Claude Julien credit

If you go back and look at Claude Julien’s track record as an NHL coach, it’s a tale of two different stories.

Julien has found regular season success between his time coaching in Montreal, New Jersey and Boston, but when the NHL’s second season starts, Julien’s success is nowhere to be found

Julien started his NHL coaching career in the 2002-03 season with the Montreal Canadiens, they failed to make the playoffs that year. The following year, Julien led the Habs to the seventh seed in the east. The Canadiens upset the heavily favored Bruins before being swept by the eventual Stanly Cup Champion, Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Canadiens got off to a slow start in the 2005-06 season and Julien was fired after 41 games.

The Devils came calling and hired Julien for the 2006-07 season. Through 79 games, Julien’s Devils held the second best record in Eastern Conference when Julien was unexpectedly fired.

Being fired three games prior to the playoffs didn’t stop the Bruins from hiring Julien for the 2007-08 season.

The Bruins struggled in Julien’s first season in Boston, but managed to sneak into the playoffs where they found themselves a first round date with the talented top seeded Canadiens. The Bruins almost pulled off the upset, but ultimately lost in seven games.

The 2008-09 season was Julien’s best. The Bruins finished with 116 points and missed out on the presidents trophy by one point. Julien won the Jack Adams Trophy that season as the NHL’s best coach.

In the playoffs the Bruins swept the Canadiens, and then went on to lose to the Carolina Hurricanes in seven games, Bruins fans wanted Julien fired.

The 2009-10 Bruins struggled throughout the regular season, and once again the fans wanted Julien fired, he wasn’t and again led the Bruins to the playoffs.

A first round win over the Sabres, and then a 3-0 series lead against the Flyers calmed fans down, but then the unthinkable happened, the Flyers erased the series lead and completed the comeback winning the series in seven.

It looked like the end was finally here for Julien, how can you keep a guy who has never made it out of the second round, a coach who allowed his team to blow a 3-0 series lead, but he was given one last chance.

This year’s team had an up and down season, but locked in the third overall seed in the East with their second Northeast Division title in the past three seasons.

The Bruins started the 2010-11 playoffs in a 2-0 hole after two devastating losses to the Montreal Canadiens. Heading back to Montreal fans and media alike wanted rookie Tyler Seguin in the lineup to replace a struggling Michael Ryder.

Julien didn’t budge and stuck with his guns, the move paid off as Michael Ryder scored the game winning goal in overtime to keep the Bruins in the series, which they eventually won in seven games.

If Julien made people happy and benched Ryder, I don’t think we would be sitting here getting ready for Tampa Bay.

With the win over Montreal, the Bruins got their chance to get payback for last year with a second round matchup against the Flyers.

Julien did a great job leaving last year in the past, and keeping the Bruins focused. For all but one period the Bruins dominated the Flyers in what was a one-sided four game sweep.

Listen to sports radio, read Bruins blogs, websites, and local newspaper and everyone is crediting the success to Tim Thomas, the depth at the forward position, and the overall play of the Bruins, but honestly folks, its Claude Julien that deserves some credit.

It’s funny how when things are going bad, everyone points the fingers at the coaching and not the players, but when things are good, like they are now, it’s all the players and not the coaching.

Bruins General Manger Peter Chiarelli, the man who brought Julien in, has been very happy with his coach.

“Well I think you make a good point. And what Claude [Julien] and the rest of us decided going into the playoffs was, we had to have poise, we had to have confidence, and we had to make sure that was stressed at all times. And so that was a theme we were going to go into it with. And I think it shone brightly after those two games against Montreal, the first two games, because we’re in a hole. And I don’t know if you look closely, eventually, whenever I think about lack of poise or panic, I look at our defensive zone, and I see how we breakout, I see how we’re covering. As we progressed in that series we got better and better, we were catching. We were also, teams generally take away the wall on a breakout, and that center pass is a tough pass to make. We were getting better at it, and in this series we were getting better at it. So you work through adversity and I think Claude [Julien] was very good at instilling that. He also made a lot of switches. He made a lot of switches on the lines, using the two centers a lot, and that’s something that’s very important on the faceoffs. You know he made some other changes defensively, we were able to juggle the defensemen when [Adam] McQuaid got injured. So I’ve liked the job that he’s done. I’ve liked the job that he’s done, and the biggest thing, as you mentioned, is his ability to calm the guys down yet maintain their intensity.”

So moving forward from here, when the Bruins success keeps coming, take a minute to point your finger at Julien, and say hey, he’s doing a good job, because he finally deserves it.

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  1. Pingback: Game 1 preview: Bruins v. Lightning--May 14, 2011 | The Hub of Hockey – A Boston Bruins Hockey Blog by Mark Marino May 14, 2011 [...] Bergeron was injured in game for of the ECSF. Bergeron is expected to return in this series and Head Coach Claude Julien describes Bergeron as “feeling [...]

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