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Sports

June 18, 2013

Bruins coach Claude Julien keeps even keel

BOSTON — Claude Julien doesn’t pay much attention to compliments or criticism.

Just give him a pair of skates, players to teach and a spot behind the bench and the coach of the Boston Bruins is thrilled.

“If I could come to work every day, do this stuff, then walk out of the rink and nobody knew who I was, I’d be the happiest guy in the world,” he says. “That’s just the way I am. It’s my personality.”

It’s tough for him to be anonymous, however, when he’s three wins from a second Stanley Cup championship in three years. Especially after he’s taken his team to the playoffs in each of his six years as coach and has the second-most postseason victories of any NHL coach in that stretch.

He would get his 50th, one less than Mike Babcock of Detroit, with a win last night in Game 3 that would give the Bruins a 2-1 lead over the Chicago Blackhawks in the best-of-seven series.

Then there’s the recognition Julien really doesn’t want — the repeated rumblings that he might get fired if he doesn’t win a particular postseason series.

Julien was honored as coach of the year for his regular-season performance in 2008-09. But the next season when the Bruins lost to the Philadelphia Flyers in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals after winning the first three games, there were calls for his exit.

Good thing general manager Peter Chiarelli, a staunch supporter of Julien, didn’t listen.

The next year the Bruins captured their first Stanley Cup since 1972, winning three of their four series in seven games and taking the title with a 4-0 victory in Vancouver in Game 7.

But when Boston lost to Washington in the first round last season, the critics returned. And it didn’t get better when the Bruins nearly blew a 3-1 series lead to the Toronto Maple Leafs in the first round this year.

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