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Bruins DieHard: Claude Julien’s Unwavering Commitment Has B’s On Top Of Their Game

By Ric Duarte, CBS Boston
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Claude Julien (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

Claude Julien (Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)

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BOSTON (CBS) — From the time he arrived in Boston back in June 2007, many, (including yours truly) have questioned his decisions. Why is this player not playing? Why has this player or that player been sent to the minors? Why have you sent your most prolific scorers to other teams where they do continue to score? But Bruins coach Claude Julien has never wavered.

Always remaining true to himself, to the team and to management’s philosophy. You can play in the offensive zone, but if you choose not to play in the defensive zone as well, no matter who you are, you might as well not be here because you do not fit in.

The results are not to be argued. In the playoff year 2011, down in the series 0-2 to hated rival Canadiens and heading up to Montreal, just about every hockey writer in this city had their “Julien fired” column already drafted. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Forum … err, Bell Centre.

Demanding that his team play better defense is nothing new. If you look at this 10-game winning streak the team hit Tuesday night with a solid 4-2 win over the New Jersey Devils, yes it’s good defense most times and solid goaltending, but it all starts with the forwards.

Playing defense in the neutral zone and then coming back to help out when the play is in the Bruins end — this is the foundation of the Julien system.  This system is what paid off in 2011 and 2013 and what has made Boston the perennial team to beat in the East. It’s the system that has the Bruins leading the league in goals against despite — or is it the result of? — being tied for second in goal scoring. They’ve scored 41 goals in that 10-game stretch, while yielding a mere 15. This is not an accident.

Defense and hitting have long been the reason you wore the Spoked B.

No matter how efficient you were in putting the puck behind opposing goalies, your stay in Boston would be measured by your willingness to pay the defensive price. In his tenure, there have been some head-scratching moves that had me and others instinctively asking, “Why is Claude doing that?” But when you analyze and look at the whole, nothing has really changed with how he manages and coaches the team. Like the players, we in the media either get it, or we don’t.

As of June 15, 2011, I got it. I still give a quizzical look with some of his decisions, but as the coach remains the same, this current edition of the Boston Bruins look as good — no wait, better — today than they have at any other time since Julien took the helm.

Ric Duarte has covered hockey and the Bruins for various media outlets since 1986. You can follow Ric at BruinsDieHard.com and on Twitter @bruins_diehard.

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