What will the demanding Bruins boss find to critique about his club's thoroughly dominating 6-0 dismantling of the Flyers Saturday in Philadelphia?
It was the fourth straight win for Boston, but the previous efforts had at least featured some obvious lapses that Julien could latch onto. He did just that after Wednesday's sloppy 5-2 win in Ottawa. Julien gave his troops a day off on Thursday, then set about cleaning up their play in Friday's practice.
It worked, but maybe too well. Julien won't have much to complain about the next time he gets the Bruins on the ice for practice.
"We were ready to play tonight, there's no doubt there," said Julien, who earned his 200th win behind the Bruins bench with the victory. "I thought that what we did yesterday in practice was extremely useful for what we did today. We tightened up like we talked about in the neutral zone and didn't make it so easy for other teams to get some room.
"They're a potent team in the offensive zone," Julien added of the Flyers. "In tight around the net they do a great job of throwing pucks there and battling for it, and I thought our guys did a great job of defending in that area. Timmy [Thomas] was good and overall it was a real good 60 minutes from our team, something we hadn't seen in a long time."
Thomas made 31 saves for his 30th career shutout. He was challenged on many of those, but he also had plenty of support from the rest of the team, as the Bruins shined in every scernario imaginable.
"We had a well-rounded game today," Thomas said. "We had to because we had all types of situations — power plays, penalty kills, even strength. We scored on the power play. We obviously started out the game with a big goal right away which helped put the momentum in our favor. Then every time there was an opportunity for them to get back in the game with a penalty or something, we came up big on the penalty kill."
The Bruins set the tone immediately, first with Benoit Pouliot scoring just 27 seconds into play, then with Zdeno Chara dropping the gloves with Flyers heavyweight Jody Shelley moments later. The momentum of that bout led to a Daniel Paille goal 37 seconds after the fight, and the Bruins were off and running.
"I think we were really ready to play them," said Chara, who had a Gordie Howe hat trick (goal, assist and fight in the same game) in his return from a leg injury. "We knew it was [at stake]. We really wanted to get to that first place. They have a really good team, so we were just trying to focus on what we did right."
The Bruins and Flyers are now even atop the Eastern Conference with 43 points. The Bruins have one more win than Philadelphia, but the Flyers have two more wins in regulation and overtime than the Bruins, who have won three games in shootouts this season.
They didn't need a shootout for this one, though, as it was over early, with Boston building a 4-0 lead in the first period and continuing to control play for the full 60 minutes.
"We have won a lot of games over the last couple of months in a lot of different ways," Thomas said. "This was one of our more complete games that we have played and against a team that played hard against us the whole time too."
The Flyers had their chances to get back into the game, but the Bruins killed off six Philadelphia power plays. That included a five-minute major late in the second on Milan Lucic, who also received a game misconduct for checking Zac Rinaldo from behind. The Bruins are now 16-for-16 on the penalty kill in the last three games and 42-for-44 over the last 11.
The Flyers' penalty killers weren't as successful. The Bruins converted three of their eight chances with the man-advantage, including their first 5-on-3 goal of the season when Lucic redirected a shot in front.
Lucic was one of six different goal-scorers in the game, while 12 different Bruins collected points in the contest, as Boston once again benefited from contributions throughout its deep lineup.
"It was big for us, and you know even though we won the last three games, we felt like we didn't really play our game and play the way we wanted to play," Lucic said. "So I think we got back to doing a lot of great things here today and that's why we were rewarded with the effort that we got."
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