The only thing worse than someone being mad at you is that same someone being disappointed in you. Boston Bruins head coach Claude Julien felt both of those emotions about his team following its latest setback.
The B’s suffered a 2-1 shootout loss to the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday night at the MTS Centre. The B’s are playing out the string before the playoffs start next week, and that showed in the loss to the Jets. Julien was not about to let them off the hook for one of his team’s worst efforts in what’s been an otherwise incredible season.
“If we were getting ready for the playoffs, we would have played a lot better than that,” Julien told reporters after the game. “We looked like a disinterested team tonight. They were determined to have a good, strong finish here and they did. They were the better team tonight from start to finish. I thought our goaltender was the reason we were able to come out of here with at least a point.”
B’s goalie Chad Johnson stopped 36 of the 37 shots he faced, but the Jets finally broke through late in the third period before winning in the shootout. It was not unlike how the Bruins coughed up a late lead Tuesday in Minnesota before losing in the skills competition to the Wild. That should have been enough motivation for the B’s to bounce back with a better effort against the Jets, especially when you consider that Winnipeg head coach Paul Maurice put his team through an hour-long bag skate on Wednesday.
“Every once in a while, your players will disappoint you, and this is one of them. I expected better leadership,” Julien said.
The head coach didn’t call out anyone by name, but he clearly took exception with the way his first line played. That line combined for eight shots — including a team-high five from Jarome Iginla — but they had just two total hits and were on the ice for Evander Kane’s game-tying goal at 18:03 of the third period.
“Our top line was by far our worst of the night,” Julien said before turning his attention to the rest of the club. “As a team, we lost races and battles to a team that skated for over an our yesterday. To me, it just showed that there wasn’t much interest in the game tonight. Hopefully it’s just a bit of a phase that we’re going through and we can pick up our game. Because as I keep telling those guys, bad habits creep in quickly, and they’re hard to break. Hopefully we got that message tonight.”
Julien also insisted that this isn’t a case where he lets his veteran team handle things internally.
“They’re an experienced group, but they didn’t show it tonight,” he said. “So every once and a while as a coach, you have to step in and say what you have to say. We’ll deal with that moving forward here.”
The Bruins have two more chances to straighten things out before the playoffs begin. Boston returns home on Saturday to take on the Buffalo Sabres before heading to New Jersey to finish the regular season Sunday against the Devils.