Under Pressure: Claude Julien

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This is part of Boston Bruins day at PHT…

When it comes to being under pressure for the Boston Bruins in 2016-17 how it could be anybody other than Claude Julien?

It’s not because he is a bad coach (he isn’t), or that he has done a bad job with the team (he hasn’t), it is simply the reality that comes with coaching in the NHL.

It is a job that has a limited shelf life to begin with in every city, and when the team does not win the coach will always be one of the people to take the fall for it. That is especially true in a situation like Boston where expectations are always high — in part because of the standard Julien helped set in recent years — and other changes have already been made elsewhere in the organization.

Coming off of back-to-back seasons where the team has fallen short of the playoffs, something the Bruins have done only two other times since 1967, the team has made significant changes in recent years. Players have come and gone, and the front office has been overhauled with Don Sweeney taking over for Peter Chiarelli in the general manager’s chair last year.

The only card management has not played at this point is the coach. And his seat has to be getting a warm as the Bruins try to avoid missing the playoffs for a third consecutive season. This is new territory for the Bruins because the franchise has not missed the playoffs in three straight years since they went eight years between 1959 and 1967.

The challenge for Julien is going to be getting the most out of a roster that has some significant flaws in major areas. The team isn’t completely lacking in a talent. They have a world class goaltender in the crease and an offense that was fifth in the NHL in goals scored a year ago that not only has established top-line players (Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and  Brad Marchand), but also has some promising young talent on the way.

But that defense. Oh, that defense.

Once the strength of the team under Julien, and the foundation of the organization when it went to two Stanley Cup Finals in three years, it is now perhaps one of the worst units in the league. At 39 Zdeno Chara is not quite the dominant force he once was, while many of the players that helped make the group so strong have moved on either due to salary cap issues or just simply getting older, while the front office has not been able to adequately replace the talent that has left. What remains is a seriously flawed unit that might be enough to not only sink another season, but also perhaps a very good coach.