Saturday, March 7, 2009

What I learned from seeing Claude Julien drinking with his friends last night

I ran into (read: saw, was too drunk to talk to) Claude Julien last night at Boston's Liberty Hotel. For those of you who don't know what this place is all about, allow me to paint a picture for you. The Liberty is a converted prison in the West End that re-opened about 2 years ago. It is the second swankiest hotel in the city and the bars inside are frequented by over-dressed women of all ages and mid-life crisis aged men with striped shirts unbuttoned down to their mid-chest.

In other words, you will never find a more wretched hive of Hermes and Armani.

And there is our fearless leader, plunked down in the middle of it all in a black leather jacket and sort of Cosby-esque sweater with a couple of friends. Needless to say, he didn't fit in. Now I'm not sure that I wasn't the only person in the place to recognize Claude, but I'm thinking there was a chance that I was only one of a few.

Allow me to get to the point - what I saw last night captures the problem with the Bruins right now: they are pretending to be something they aren't.

Why did they succeed for so long? The did the basics right and didn't worry about getting too cute. Consistent scrappy and opportunistic hockey is what got the Bruins to such a loft perch atop the Eastern Conference. Thankfully they did mount such a large lead or else the team would be looking up at the Devils or the Capitals.

Right now we've got a team that isn't rolling 4 lines deep, isn't going hard to the net, and is letting someone else take care of the dirty work. What drove the Bruins at the beginning of the year was a fear of failure and a fierce competetive fire that comes from a team that feels like it has something to prove. Fear is a great motivator, kind of like when I'm cruising Deadspin at work and I hear the boss coming around the cube. I've never Alt-Tab'd so fast in my life.

The Bruins have lost the fear, lost the edge, and are in danger of losing in the first round of the play-offs if the can't recapture it.

Next time I see Claude at a bar I hope it is on the other side of Charles Street Station at the best dive in the city, the Beacon Hill Pub. A place where the PBR flows like the salmon of capistrano and you can only pay in cash. It isn't pretty, it isn't classy, and you might have to throw down with some douche from BC every now and again ... but it's honest about what it is.

Maybe Claude should just play this before today's game:


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