In an environment where everyone was expecting that Bruins coach Claude Julien and his staff could be near their end of days had the Bruins not made their miracle comeback Monday in Game 7 against Toronto, general manager Peter Chiarelli obviously wanted to restate his confidence in those he’s placed behind his team’s bench to steer this club into the second round and beyond.
While giving plenty of credit to the players for the dramatic 5-4 win that earned the team a series victory in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals, Chiarelli lauded the likes of Tuukka Rask, Patrice Bergeron, Milan Lucic and Zdeno Chara during a press conference Tuesday. He also commended the efforts of rookie defensemen Matt Bartkowski and Dougie Hamilton, who had to play more than 20 minutes apiece in the absence of Dennis Seidenberg, Andrew Ference and Wade Redden.
“And that’s another testament to coaching that they were able to integrate these two guys amongst the five-D corps, in Bart and Dougie,” Chiarelli said at TD Garden.
The coaching staff might have to do more integrating when the Bruins host the New York Rangers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals Thursday. There was no update on any of the Bruins’ banged-up blueliners, but Chiarelli announced the team would recall Torey Krug from Providence, which means another rookie could enter the lineup. Krug has even less NHL experience than Bartkowski and Hamilton, with just three games on his ledger.
Regardless of who the Bruins have available to play on defense, they’re obviously grateful they have a chance to play more games after nearly letting Toronto rally past them from down 3-1 in the series. We know this series with the Rangers wouldn’t be possible without the Bruins scoring two 6-on-5 goals against the Maple Leafs. In the immediate aftermath of the victory, Julien credited assistant coach Geoff Ward with drawing up great extra-attacker plays. One day later, Chiarelli threw roses Julien’s way for the way the head coach made sure there was controlled chaos down the stretch of Game 7 rather than an all-out frenzy.
“Claude did a good job in that last 11 minutes. He did a great job,” Chiarelli said. “Because the players have to generate the intensity, but you have to also, like if you just ran around like a chicken with your head cut off, you’re not going to accomplish anything. So that intensity, that desperation, but the composure to make the plays that they made and to really … net-front traffic, that’s all we talked about this whole friggin’ series behind closed doors: net-front traffic. We saw that on the three goals [that tied and then won the game].”
If there was any doubt that the Bruins’ Game 7 victory postponed for probably another season the end of the Claude Julien Era, Chiarelli solidified that notion now. Now he has to hope Julien and his staff reward his faith.