Commentary

Claude Julien looks to shake up B's

Updated: December 21, 2010, 9:29 PM ET
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The NHL season is long and arduous.

A team will go through stretches in which everything is going well. There also will be times when no matter what a team does, it can't find a way to win. But probably the worst thing for a team is to have inconsistent play on a game-to-game basis.

[+] EnlargeClaude Julien
AP Photo/Winslow TownsonBruins coach Claude Julien turned up the intensity at practice Tuesday hoping to spark his team, which has lost four of five.

It infuriates a coach when a team plays great one night, then has a lackluster performance the next game.

"Whether it's a normal lull or not, you don't want to accept it," Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien said Tuesday. "There are expectations here from fans and there's a lot of winning going around in this city, and if you want to be a part of it, you have to show up and play hard every night."

Boston has dropped four of its past five games, and the Bruins barely skated away with the one win during the stretch.

"There are some inconsistencies in our game right now," captain Zdeno Chara said. "We just have to stick together and make sure we bring it next game. We just need to work hard, and everyone needs to do their jobs."

Chara was outspoken following the team's 3-0 loss to the Anaheim Ducks on Monday at the Garden, saying every player who wears the Black and Gold needs to play with more pride and passion. When the players prepared for Tuesday morning's practice at Ristuccia Arena, Chara was the first one on the ice.

After the hourlong skate, Chara reiterated those feelings.

"I still feel the same way," he said. "We didn't work as hard as we're able to do. We know it's in us. We have all the tools, but we can't wait for someone else to do it for us. We have to find a way to motivate ourselves for every game and every opponent. We need to play with a lot of passion and a lot of jump."

When the Bruins are able to sustain that consistent style of play, they are one of the toughest teams in the league. When they don't, they're average.

"As a group, we have to compete and get back to our game and be the team we should be," Julien said. "Right now we're not, and average isn't good enough in this league."

A little more effort would help, and Julien made sure to step up the intensity at practice. Players were battling to the point where Nathan Horton, David Krejci and Tyler Seguin each suffered a minor bump and bruise.

"We tried to create more intensity and [a higher] compete level and show a little bit more emotion," Julien said. "Hopefully we can get this thing turned around."

Julien will try to help bring some change by shuffling his line combinations a bit.

"I think it's necessary when you're not getting the results that you want," Julien said. "You've got to make some changes, so that's what we did this morning."

He decided to put Krejci in the middle of a line with Michael Ryder and Blake Wheeler, a combination that was very productive two seasons ago.

"You try to find some solutions here, so we've moved some people around and let's see if that happens. If it does, great," Julien said. "They were pretty successful [in 2008-09], and maybe we'll see that again."

In 2008-09, Krejci, Wheeler and Ryder combined for 170 points, using their speed and playmaking ability for good results.

"There's a comfort level. We're really effective when we're on the same page," Wheeler said. "Anytime you're having a difficult time scoring goals, a little shake-up is in order. We've had a problem the last few games. Anyone can play with everyone; it's just a matter of being on the same page."

At the start of training camp in September, Julien put highly touted rookie Seguin with veterans Mark Recchi and Patrice Bergeron. That line played together only during the preseason, but Julien decided to try it again in the third period of Monday's game. The three were back together at practice Tuesday.

"I've always liked playing on their line, and I know I have to work my hardest and win all the battles," Seguin said. "We had a lot of chances in the third period [Monday], and today at practice we tried to capitalize on those."

The Bruins' subpar performance Monday night drew some boos from the 17,565 in attendance. Wheeler said he understands why the boo birds were out.

"That's the way it is," he said. "If I'm paying good money to see a team play at the professional level and they don't perform the way I'm expecting, then it's your right to say whatever you want. You cheer the team when they're doing good, and if they're not doing so good, you can say whatever you want. We deserve it."

Tuesday's practice had nonstop intensity, something that can't be said for the Bruins on game days of late.

"Today was a good practice, and if we can compete like that in a game, we'll certainly be the team that we want to be," Julien said.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.

Joe McDonald

Reporter, ESPNBoston.com

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