Under Pressure: Claude Julien


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.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

Nick Turchiaro/USA TODAY Sports

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
David Kirouac/USA TODAY Sports

MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.