BOSTON -- The sight of Phil Kessel and Northeast Division-rival Toronto might not have been enough to fire up the Bruins on Saturday coming off their worst loss of the season less than 24 hours earlier in Montreal.
So coach Claude Julien pulled one from his "Jack Adams Trophy winner handbook" and riled up his troops prior to his team's 7-2 decimation of the Leafs at TD Garden.
The specifics of Julien's oration will have to be kept top secret -- so say him and his players -- until the movie of Julien's life (starring Ed Harris, of course) is released in 2014 (or thereabout).
But center Marc Savard, who responded with a hat trick, said he got chills. Patrice Bergeron also said Julien's words were fiery. And defenseman Mark Stuart could tell his mates had a little extra jump after listening to their mentor coax them to erase the memory of the Montreal debacle with an all-out effort.
"He got us fired up, got us going," said Stuart. "And that's what we needed. He basically said we need to play with more emotion. And that kind of got our blood flowing right away. We were ready to go right at the start."
Julien has been known to use all different manners of motivation since he took over this club two seasons ago. Heck, you could make an argument that the biggest reason Kessel was skating in blue instead of black on this evening was Julien's tactics. The speedy winger has made no secret of his dislike for the ways of his former coach.
Although Toronto coach Ron Wilson isn't known as a walk-in-the-park type of coach, Kessel has extolled the virtues of being free to play "his game" and basically do whatever he wants under Wilson. Needless to say, with all the Leafs have invested in Kessel there won't be any healthy trips to the press box like the one Julien threw at Kessel in the '08 playoff series with Montreal.
So the coach that won the NHL coach of the year award opted for the fire-and-brimstone approach with the players that want him as their leader. To say he hit a coach's jackpot would be an understatement.
Boston scored the first seven goals of the game, starting with Marco Sturm's tip-in just 5:28 into the opening stanza. Tuukka Rask carried a shutout until there was just 4:14 left in regulation. Plus the Bruins answered every attempt by the Leafs to physically change the game, including a Steve Begin beat down of Jamal Mayers and a solid win on points by Shawn Thornton over Colton Orr.
"As much as we were bad last night and you've kind of got to turn the page on that, you also have to understand that you want to do something about it," said Julien about his extra excitable pregame words. "And it would've been totally unacceptable for us to come out tonight and not be ready to play."
The Leafs are back in the Garden for Boston's next game, which isn't until Thursday. Considering the results of his resounding words, you might think Julien would go to that well every time.
"You can't wear them out, right? So you've got to save them for the right moments. That's a coach's job. You do that every night, it's going to go in one ear and out the other," explained Julien.
That must be another trick of the trade from the Jack Adams winner's handbook. If Julien keeps leaking these tidbits, no one will want to see the movie.