BOSTON -- The Boston Bruins (the new No. 1 in ESPN.com’s Power Rankings) will try to extend their winning streak to nine games when they host the Minnesota Wild on Monday night at TD Garden.
After Boston dismissed the Carolina Hurricanes 5-1 on Saturday, Bruins forward Milan Lucic inadvertently made a comment, saying he hopes the team isn’t peaking right now. Afterwards, Bruins coach Claude Julien scoffed at the notion that the team is playing its best hockey of the season.
On Monday, players in the room all agreed there’s room for improvement, despite the team’s run. Just to make sure everyone remains on the same page, Julien stressed the point.
“If they want to know about consistency, I can show them,” Julien said. “It’s always been that way. For us, win or lose, we have to be consistent as coaches. If you’re not going to hop on them too much when things are tough, you’re not going to let them off the hook when things are good, too.
“They see things every day about things we have to be better at. I don’t know if they’re feeling comfortable, or whether the comment was made as far as we hope this isn’t our best. Well, trust me, it’s not our best.”
Julien was quick to point out the breakdowns and scoring chances the Bruins have allowed during their winning streak. It’s about consistency and reaching that level where they’re happy with the way they’re playing when the Stanley Cup playoffs arrive.
“It’s nice to win some games, but you’ve got to remember sometimes your goaltender does a pretty good job bailing you out,” Julien said. “We watch videos after every game and we analyze our team. To us, we’re good right now and don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying we’re playing bad. We’re playing well. I think there’s still a lot of room for improvement here and if we expect to go a long way in the playoffs we’re going to have to be better than we are right now, so to me that’s not peaking.”
In November 2011, the Bruins went on a 14-0-1 run en route to the Stanley Cup. Julien wants to make sure players don’t start to get ideas about what a similar run might mean for their Cup chances this year.
“That’s why you have a shredder in your office and you shred that paper, because on paper it’s not worth much. It’s what’s on the ice, so we always do that after games; we shred that stuff and start all over again,” Julien said. “Again, let’s not get fooled. We’ve seen teams go on winning streaks and they’re still winning when they’re playing bad and it eventually catches up and then it takes forever to get their team back on track.”
Julien added, “We have to make sure that guys understand just because you’re winning doesn’t mean you’re playing well and that’s on video, not on paper.”
Also, let’s not forget what the Pittsburgh Penguins accomplished a season ago, posting a 23-4-0 record down the stretch, including a 15-game winning streak. The Penguins reached the Eastern Conference finals before being swept by the Bruins in four games.
After Monday’s morning skate, the Bruins went about their normal game-day routine and there was not a sense of complacency.
“Don’t get me wrong, our team doesn’t get comfortable,” Julien said. “Whether that comment came out of one person, or whatever, it doesn’t matter. That same person understands, and the rest of the team understands that we’re a mature team. We’ve been through a lot. We’ve learned through our ups and downs, especially our downs and we’re a better and more mature team because of that. I know our players don’t get complacent, but it’s also my job to make sure it doesn’t get there. They can do their share, and I’ve got to do mine and that way we keep ourselves on our toes.”