BOSTON — A year ago, when the Bruins found themselves in a daunting hole after losing the first two games at home in their opening-round series with Montreal, the players all pointed to Claude Julien's steadying presence in helping them dig out of that hole.
Julien never wavered from his belief in his system and his faith in his players. Those players, in turn, fed off that confidence as they rallied to beat the Habs in seven games and eventually hoisted the Cup for the first time in 39 years.
This year, the Bruins aren't in anywhere near the dire straits of that two-game hole. They have remained up a game or even with the Capitals throughout the series, but Washington has hung tough with the defending champs. The Caps have answered each time the Bruins took a series lead and the clubs now head into Saturday's pivotal Game 5 even at 2-2.
The Bruins aren't showing any signs of panic this year either, once again taking their cue from Julien.
"The outside is overacting to stuff," Julien said after Friday's practice at the Garden. "It's a 2-2 series right now. We're not down in it. It's tied. Like I said, we've done a lot of good things. At the end of the day we just haven't scored. That’s the only major issue right now that we have, is the fact that we're not scoring."
The Bruins have held Washington to just seven goals in four games, but they've also scored just seven goals themselves. That included only one on Thursday despite outshooting the Capitals 45-21 in a 2-1 loss in Washington.
That has led to some frustration, but no panic. Not within the locker room anyway, where the Bruins seemed more bemused than anything at the hysterical reactions to Thursday's loss among some segments of the fans and media.
"It seems to be that you guys are a lot more panicked than we are," center Chris Kelly said. "It's a good hockey team over there. We're tied 2-2. We've scored seven goals. They've scored seven goals. It's been an entertaining series. Both sides have been good in their own end. Both goalies have been good. To me, that's the way playoffs should be. By no means is there any panic in this room, and I'm sure there's no panic in their room. It's two good teams playing a best-of-three series now as opposed to a best-of-seven."
While the Bruins are remaining calm, that doesn't mean Julien isn't actively seeking solutions to the club's offensive woes. On Friday, Julien switched up all four of his forward lines.
Brian Rolston moved up alongside Milan Lucic and David Krejci, while Rich Peverley dropped down with Patrice Bergeron. Daniel Paille slid up from the fourth line to be on Bergeron's other wing, with Brad Marchand dropped down to reunite the original Merlot Line with Gregory Campbell and Shawn Thornton. Kelly remained the pivot on the third line, now with Tyler Seguin opposite Benoit Pouliot on the wings. Spare forward Jordan Caron rotated in with that Kelly line.
On the surface, such radical changes could appear like a departure from last year's steadfast faith in the club's system. But Julien isn't looking to change how the Bruins play. He's just switching up which skaters are playing with each other in the hopes that they get back to the style that's been so successful for them.
"Making line changes, that's a part of trying to find solutions and it's as simple as that," Julien said. "You've got to mix up guys who are not getting the results that we’d like to. So, you're trying to make changes that will maybe spark that part of our game."
And while Julien didn't tinker with his forward lines much last postseason other than when injuries forced his hand, it should be noted that he did make some key changes on defense. After falling behind 2-0 to Montreal, Julien put Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg together on the top pairing on defense, a move that may have been the most important tactical adjustment he made in Boston's Cup run.
These new lines may not stay together as long as Chara and Seidenberg, but it's not a panic move that's out of character for Julien.
"It's different year to year," Marchand said. "Last year it worked out and this year hopefully this is going to spark everyone and we're going to come out flying next game."
The Bruins will need to come out strong in the next game as this series has reached a critical point, but at least they can go into Saturday's contest knowing that their coach once again has complete faith in their ability to rise to the challenge.