Video: Bruins honor Shawn Thornton

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Former Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton is playing in his first game back at the TD Garden as a member of the Florida Panthers tonight.

During the first period, the Bruins payed tribute to Thornton, who spent seven seasons with Boston winning a Stanley Cup in 2011.

Thornton signed a two-year, $2.4 million contract with the Panthers in the summer.

Bruins’ Julien is ‘still very hungry to win another Stanley Cup’

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Few NHL coaches enjoy the success and job security that Claude Julien’s managed with the Boston Bruins.

He’s currently in his eighth season behind the B’s bench, and with a multi-year contract confirmed, he could very well be this team’s head coach for more than a decade.* Even with rare job security, Julien told CSNNE.com that his drive hasn’t faded.

“As a coach, personally, it’s about understanding that if you think you have it all figured it out then you’re in trouble,” Julien said. “You keep learning, and every year or so there are things that change in our game. The thing that I feel the most is that no matter what we’ve accomplished, I still feel very hungry to win another Stanley Cup.”

The veteran coach added, “as long as I have that fire in the belly, I’m extremely happy being in this organization as long as they’ll have me.”

It’s difficult to see why the Bruins would opt against keeping Julien (and GM Peter Chiarelli) around for the foreseeable future.

Even with a tough 7-6-0 start to 2014-15, the Bruins’ record with Julien at the helm is pretty stunning: 317-169-65, with a Stanley Cup, two championship round appearacnes and a steady run of postseason success.

The timing of the extension is pretty clever, too.

Julien can focus on getting the most out of a battered Bruins blueline without the stress of wondering about his long-term financial future. He has his work cut out for him with 6-foot-9 safety net Zdeno Chara out of the mix for quite some time, yet this is also a chance to once again prove that Boston can shake off the challenges that frequently surface during an 82-game regular season.

He certainly has a sterling record of succeeding in that regard, so far.

* – Sports will teach you that a coach’s contract isn’t the sturdiest shield when a team starts to think about making a change …

Rask surprised to learn Bruins have won five of seven

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For as tumultuous as Boston’s start has been, the team has played reasonably well of late and secured 10 of a possible 14 points.

All of which came as news to Tuukka Rask.

“We won five out of seven? Oh yeah?” Rask said, per the Boston Herald. “It doesn’t feel like it. It feels like we have been losing and winning.

“But you know it’s better, it’s good, the right way.”

The B’s started the year 2-4-0 and things hit their lowest on Oct. 16, when Rask was hooked after allowing five goals on 23 shots in an eventual 6-4 loss to Montreal. Losing to their heated rival after last year’s playoff ouster was one thing, but Boston looked downright rattled — and nobody embodied that frustration more than Milan Lucic, who received a misconduct penalty at the end of regulation and was later fined $5K for making an obscene gesture towards Montreal fans.

Since then, though, things have improved.

Lucic has been better, scoring six points in his last six games, but the real story has been the less-heralded individuals that’ve stepped in and provided quality efforts.

In Saturday’s 4-2 win over Ottawa, Matt Fraser was a late insertion for the injured David Krejci and stole the show, scoring a pair of goals while finishing as the game’s first star. Rookie Seth Griffith has five points in his last six games, and first-year backup Niklas Svedberg has a 1.66 GAA and .940 save percentage.

Much credit here is due to head coach Claude Julien, who has done well in keeping the team afloat despite a depleted blueline (Zdeno Cara, Torey Krug and Kevan Miller all out with injures) and the departures of Johnny Boychuk and Jarome Iginla.

It makes sense, then, that Boston rewarded Julien with a three-year contract extension this weekend, with one of the club’s veteran presences — Dennis Seidenberg — shedding light on how Julien has gotten his new, inexperienced players to perform at a quality level.

“He’s proven in the past that he knows how to coach,” Seidenberg said, per the Herald. “He knows how to teach a young team to play a system.

“I really enjoy playing for him and I think all the guys in here do.”

Bruins confirm Julien’s extension

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The Boston Bruins confirmed that they’ve signed head coach Claude Julien to a contract extension. While reports indicated that it’s a three-year deal, Boston merely deems it a “multi-year contract.”

(The NHL: where teams are needlessly opaque about more than just injuries.)

It’s easy to forget the sorry state the Bruins were in before Julien and GM Peter Chiarelli turned things around. This is Julien’s eighth season behind the bench in Boston.

Perhaps the worst criticism you can lob at Julien is that he seemingly butts heads with the occasional finesse player. Forgive the potential oversimplification, but some might argue that he was at least part of the reason that the team eventually traded the likes of Phil Kessel and Tyler Seguin.

Even if that’s true, the Bruins should gladly take the limited “bad” with the abundant good; Chiarelli guided the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup win in decades during that exciting 2011 playoff run and helped them get to the final round in 2013.

They’ve now made the playoffs seven seasons in a row and won four division titles under Julien’s watch, so Boston’s enjoyed consistent success along with those especially high moments.

The 2014-15 season may very well provide his biggest test as a coach in some time, too. With Zdeno Chara out and other injuries/free agent losses threatening the team’s ability to dominate, Julien is tasked with getting the most out of the talent available.

Luckily, he’s shown a knack for doing just that.

Report: Coach Julien inks three-year extension with Bruins

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The Boston Bruins have agreed to a three-year contract extension with coach Claude Julien, according to CBC’s Elliotte Friedman. The 54-year-old is in his eighth season as the Bruins’ bench boss.

When Julien took over the team, Boston had missed the postseason for two straight campaigns and hadn’t won a playoff series over its last seven seasons. Under his guidance though, Boston has reached the postseason for seven straight years and in 2011, the Bruins won their first championship since the 1970s. They made it to the finals again in 2013, but lost to Chicago.

Not including tonight’s game against Ottawa, Julien has won 435 career regular season games, which is good for 28th place on the all-time head coaching list. Julien also won the Jack Adams Award in 2009.

This season might be one of his most challenging in years though. The Bruins were forced to watch Jarome Iginla walk over the summer due to cap restraints and they traded defenseman Johnny Boychuk for the same reason. They’re also trying to get by right now without Zdeno Chara (knee), Torey Krug (finger), and David Krejci (undisclosed).