Penguins Notebook: Julien sees even better future for Bruins
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BOSTON -- Some coaches might be satisfied to have one of the best records in the Eastern Conference at this point of the season.
Especially when his team didn't qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs in 2006-07.
But not Claude Julien, who is in his first year behind Boston's bench. He figures the Bruins haven't come close to realizing their potential.
"Maybe I'm being a little greedy, but I want more," Julien said yesterday. "I still feel this team can get better. If we push ourselves harder and do some of the little things ... I think we're capable of doing that."
The Bruins, 18-12-3 before facing the Penguins at TD Banknorth Garden last night, actually began the game a point ahead of where they were after 33 games in 2006-07, when a second-half swoon knocked them out of playoff contention.
Reports out of Sweden say the Penguins will, as expected, open the 2008-09 season with pair of games against Ottawa in that country.
That, however, conflicts with the stance taken by the league and the Penguins.
An NHL executive, speaking on condition of anonymity, said last night the Penguins-Senators series has not been finalized, which echoes the position held by Penguins officials.
The Swedish reports said the games will be played Oct. 4 and 5 at Stockholm's Globe Arena.
Goalie Ty Conklin, who had been limited to 20 minutes of work in his first five games since being recalled from the Penguins' minor-league team in Wilkes-Barre, got his first NHL start of the season last night.
Coach Michel Therrien said he gave Dany Sabourin, who has temporarily inherited Marc-Andre Fleury's job as the No. 1 goalie, the night off because of the Penguins' busy schedule. Their game against the New York Islanders tonight at Mellon Arena will be the Penguins' third in four nights.
"We've played a lot of hockey lately, and we need all of our players," Therrien said. "He's got some experience in the NHL and has been worked hard in practice. He deserved to play."
Conklin acknowledged being a bit nervous but suggested that could work to his advantage
"I guess I'm a little more anxious, but it's a good thing," he said. "You want to feel that way. You want to feel excited to play. More than anything, you're excited to prove you can contribute."
People who follow the Baby Penguins didn't seem surprised when Jeff Taffe was promoted to the parent club Wednesday. Taffe apparently was.
"I had no clue, actually," he said. "I was just sitting in the locker room after practice, and coach [Todd] Richards called me in and told me I was going up. That's about all I knew."
Taffe's promotion was an aftershock of Therrien's decision to move Evgeni Malkin back onto Sidney Crosby's left wing on the No. 1 line for the Boston game.
Taffe, 6 feet 3, 215 pounds, said he didn't need to be briefed on how he has to play -- "Just basically go out there and skate and play the body, and things will take care of themselves" -- and that he hasn't thought about how long he might stick with the Penguins.
"You never know," he said. "I don't want to read too much into it. I'm just happy to be here now and go game-by-game."
So much for Therrien's plan to rotate five of their seven defensemen -- Brooks Orpik, Rob Scuderi, Darryl Sydor, Kris Letang and Ryan Whitney -- out of the lineup on those nights when only six dress. Orpik was a healthy scratch last night for the second time in the past five games, even though Scuderi, Whitney and Letang haven't been held out of a game since the rotation was adopted nearly two weeks ago.
The move should not have been a total surprise since Orpik, the only physical presence on the Penguins' blue line, got just 5:30 of ice time in their 4-0 loss Tuesday to the New York Rangers. Then again, Orpik attended Boston College, and coaches frequently make a point of using players in their hometown or a city in which they played previously.
Trying to guess the final score of tonight's game? Go with 3-2, the score the previous three meetings between the teams. ... Penguins prospect Paul Bissonnette, a defenseman currently playing in Wilkes-Barre, was named to the American Conference squad for the ECHL All-Star Game by virtue of his play in Wheeling. ... Penguins owner Mario Lemieux will be inducted to the International Ice Hockey Federation Hall of Fame in the player's category. He is part of a class with Igor Larionov, Philippe Bozon and builder Art Berglund, as well as Cammi Granato, Angela James and Geraldine Heaney.
First Published December 21, 2007 12:00 am