BOSTON (CBS) – I had all intentions of writing something praising Claude Julien for such a wonderful job this season coaching the Boston Bruins to within two games of the Stanley Cup Finals. After all, I was never fond of the hiring of the man, and over the past four plus years behind the Bruin bench nothing really has changed my mind.
Then there was Saturday. The Apocalypse, the Rapture, the end of the world as we know it and nothing was fine. The Bruins lost Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Lightning in Tampa Bay and now the series is tied at two games.
It wasn’t that they loss, it was how they lost. Let’s review. The Bruins scored three first period goals including two unassisted by Patrice Bergeron and one of those shorthanded. 3-0 Boston after one period. At that point, the Bruins decided to hop their charter, fly back to Boston with thoughts of clinching at home while the Tampa Bay Lightning played the final two periods all alone and came back to with the game 5-3. Best-of-three series.
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Which brings me back to one of my pet peeves of the Coach. No in-game adjustments by Julien. Even after Teddy Purcell scored twice in 1:03, you would think the Coach would call time out as he is witnessing his squad literally disintegrate in front of his eyes. But no, he chose to let the onslaught continue. And it did as Tomas Kaberle let Sean Bergenheim walk out from behind the net and put a five-hole shot through a besieged Tim Thomas.
I could sound like a broken record by asking how could Julien allow the team to sit back for two entire periods and not stand up to the blitzkrieg but we’ll hold the players accountable because there was no Bruin who didn’t have a hand in leaving the ice thinking this one was in the bag, or so it seemed.
Since the playoffs began in mid-April, I have said ‘Playoff Hockey…Nuttin’ Like it’. Saturday afternoon’s debacle is proof and, let’s hope, we don’t see that performance again.
I guess my thoughts on the Coach change with each game and rightly so as we’ve seen a couple of Jekyll & Hyde performance by the Boston Bruins in this year’s tournament. One thing about these performances is that Claude usually has the team in a good frame of mind and their bounce back ability has been significantly good. More confounding because they do not maintain the good Bruin performance and instead we get the “Rapture”.
Monday night the Bruins had better be good on home ice because the thought of going back to the St. Pete Times Forum for a clinching game against the Bolts could mean the end of the playoff world for Boston and, well…..you know how it goes.
Ric Duarte has covered hockey and the Bruins for various media outlets since 1986. You can follow Ric at BruinsDieHard.com and at twitter @bruins_diehard.