Boston Bruin’s Head Coach Claude Julien spoke to members of the media this morning and was very revealing in what will be his last pre-game press conference for 2010-2011.
Julien appeared calm when answering questions and even talked about Red Sox skipper Terry Francona reaching out to him and the team.
Q. Coach, you must be revved up that Game 7 is here and you have a chance to do something special?
CLAUDE JULIEN: There is no doubt everybody is excited about this opportunity. But as you said, you’ve got to stay the course. I think it’s served us well. Our group right now seems calm but focused. Ready to do the job.
Our team, if it gets stressed out, has never performed well, so I don’t want us to go out there stressed out but expect our team to go out there excited and determined to do the job. So far I haven’t seen anything different than that.
Q. In your estimation, what would be the most important thing for the team to focus on as they come out for the game tonight?
CLAUDE JULIEN: Lots of energy, energy that we can focus on putting pucks in deep, and forechecking, the physicality of our game. We need to get to the front of the net like we’ve done every time we had success. If we can do that offensively, our game is going to be better.
I don’t have many complaints about our defensive game here in Vancouver but certainly our offensive game has to be better today.
Q. Claude, there seems to be some speculation regarding Nathan Horton and the fact that, you know, there are reports, and I don’t know if they’re confirmed –
CLAUDE JULIEN: Let me cut your question short. Absolutely no way. It’s ridiculous, so let’s put an end to that.
Q. Thank you. Claude, I know you’ve been focused but in the broader picture, it seems Boston and Vancouver are so widely separated places, people are discovering each other. What’s your observation been about that, about the series from that perspective?
CLAUDE JULIEN: As far as teams are concerned?
Q. As a hockey culture, the two places.
CLAUDE JULIEN: I’m a Canadian. I know what Canadian cities are all about, and this is an opportunity for Vancouver to win their first Stanley Cup. So you can understand the excitement here.
But at the same time, Boston is a championship city that has won with regard to all the different sports, and when you get used to winning, you want more. The one thing they haven’t had is a Stanley Cup since 1972, so they want it just as bad at Vancouver fans do.
Sometimes when you look at it from the inside and you see how fans react and so on, so forth, you always say, Is that acceptable?
At the same time, that’s what excitement creates and it works both ways. As long as it doesn’t cross the line, I certainly think it’s a great thing for both cities.
Q. Claude, what does this game mean to Chara right now, him being a Bruin for so long and being a captain?
CLAUDE JULIEN: He’s thinking the same thing as everybody else. I don’t think there is a player in there that thinks any differently and everybody would like to see the Cup for different types of players.
That includes both teams. They would like them to win for this and for that. We’re no different from our end of it, whether it’s him or the way Timmy has played and a lot of different things. Patrice Bergeron from a serious concussion years back when we thought his career was done, that’s our side of it.
Like I said, there is a lot of different reasons to win this for a lot of different people, and right now, Nathan Horton is the guy we’re talking about. At the end of the day, like I said, the winning team is going to have a lot of reasons to celebrate in this series and everybody knows it will have been a hard-fought series. Winner takes all tonight and we’re willing to live with that.
Q. (Question regarding Mark Recchi.)
CLAUDE JULIEN: I guess that will be his choice once it’s all said and done. I know he’s expressed the fact that if we win the Stanley Cup, he’s done. Not because I want him to retire, but I would like to see him win another Stanley Cup. He’s been great for us. I can’t say enough.
We’ve talked about him all year. Maybe his speed isn’t where it might have been at some point, but his experience has certainly made up for that. He’s contributed in a lot of different ways and scored some big goals and obviously made some big plays at opportune times. He’s a guy that shows up every game no matter the situation.
Q. Terry Francona finally reached out and what does that mean?
CLAUDE JULIEN: He certainly made the effort to reach out to me and called me and wished me all the luck. He said he admired what our team has done this year. And he’s the first guy to say, I’m not the most knowledgeable hockey guy, but he enjoys the game, what we have done so far. Certainly he’s on our bandwagon, for sure. I know we’ve been on theirs.
Just seems that we just seem to blend well, the Sox and the Bruins for sure. We’re all cheering for our local teams. But it has been good, it was nice of him to reach out to me. I certainly appreciated that.
We saw Bill Belichick at the game. It’s not always about talk, it’s about action. He showed up and that showed me his support.
And Doc Rivers has been the same thing. We ran into each other in the hallway. I like the way the coaches support each other here. I certainly am one of those guys in that group.
Q. There has been so much drama this season, could you ever have expected these story lines?
CLAUDE JULIEN: Drama works in different ways in different series. For us right now, you can say what you want, but the drama doesn’t matter right now going into Game 7.
It’s not about putting a lot of thought into that more than it’s in the past. We need to sell the game as a great Game 7 today.
Q. In light of the series and the Mason Raymond injury, do you worry about Johnny Boychuk’s psyche and how is he handling it?
CLAUDE JULIEN: I’m not worried about Johnny Boychuk, but I honestly worry about Mason Raymond. When you talk about those, they’re really serious and they’re really unfortunate. Whatever happens, whether it’s a concussion, whether it’s other things, you know, this is a job and when guys are making a living out of this, the last thing you want to see is something that could jeopardize their career.
To me, I know he was in an unfortunate position and I didn’t see any extra reason to try and injure him. He was in a bad position and it’s unfortunate, but, you know, I’m more worried about him, hoping that he gets better.
Johnny is strong enough. When you know, as a player, you didn’t mean to do it, you don’t have to worry about the psyche. If it was done in a cheap manner, then you would, but Johnny certainly didn’t intend on hurting him. Right now we feel for Mason Raymond, honestly. No matter what happens tonight, we hope that he gets better quickly.
Q. Coach, last Game 7 you had no penalties at all, no problems either way. How much does that dictate the style that you to want play tonight, the physical brand and the forecheck?
COACH JULIEN: I don’t think it matters if it’s physical. It hasn’t affected our game, you know? I don’t think we can say right now in this series that penalties cost us a game, so we’ve got to go out there and play.
There is no guarantees that just because there was no penalties in the last Game 7, it’s going to be the same. To be honest, I doubt it, the way the series has been played so far.
But our focus has to remain on good penalty killing and hopefully our power play does a good job tonight. The 5-on-5, we’ve got to do the same, bring our best game.
Q. You’ve done things differently every time you’ve come. How much of this is about changing your game day routine after the trip west?
CLAUDE JULIEN: I don’t think it was all about that. We skated yesterday. We felt after a long flight it might be a good thing. To me, the time that we have slotted for morning skate is a little too close to game time with the travel to the hotel and everything.