November 21, 2011

Julien won't give Habs credit for sparking B's turnaround

By Jesse Connolly

Looking at the Bruins schedule over the first two months of the season, it’s pretty apparent to see where the boiling point came during Boston’s early struggles.

After dropping two-straight games against Montreal to slip to 3-7-0 out of the gate, the Black and Gold finally flipped the switch and played the way they’re capable of.

Since those back-to-back losses, the Bruins have ratted off eight-straight victories, but Bruins coach Claude Julien doesn’t believe the pair of setbacks to his team’s biggest rival were truly what sparked the turnaround.

“I don’t know if I want to give them that much credit,” Julien said on Monday morning before his squad took the Habs at the Bell Centre. “We’d lost seven games at that point and won three, so I think it was more than the two losses. It was more about understanding where we were.”

In their last loss, a 4-2 victory by the Canadiens up in Montreal, Julien believes his team finally came to the realization that they could no longer use the oft-mentioned Stanley Cup hangover as a crutch.

“Well we took some bad penalties in that game and it certainly showed our frustration. At one point you have to realize where you are and what you have to do,” the coach said. “They had the excuses to maybe have a slow start, but those excuses can’t last forever. We had to get ourselves back in a position where we could compete with the top teams.

“We needed this winning streak to get us there. Now it’s a matter of staying in that position, and it’s going to get harder.”

Pouliot making strides

Former Canadiens winger Benoit Pouliot got off to a slow start in his first year with Boston, but Julien has seen a lot from the 25-year-old forward of late.

“To me, his last game was probably his best game, so that means he’s getting better and it’s encouraging for us to see that,” Boston’s bench boss said. “He’s starting to show some of the things we saw in him and he just has to continue doing that.”

Pouliot has two goals and a plus-4 rating in his last five games, but his all-around game has continued to improve as the season has rolled on.

“His work ethic is there,” said Julien. “When he’s on the ice, a lot of times things seem to happen in the offensive zone. I like the way he goes to the net, he goes hard. His forechecking, his energy level and his enthusiasm is certainly there. It was all just adapting to our style of play and the way we wanted to play the game, and I think that’s coming around.”