Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Coach Julien Says Tighter Defence, More Puck Possession, Will Improve Habs Attack

Newspaper article The Canadian Press

New Coach Julien Says Tighter Defence, More Puck Possession, Will Improve Habs Attack

Article excerpt

Julien: better defence will spark Habs attack

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BROSSARD, Que. - They skated hard, battled and worked, and that's just how new coach Claude Julien wants the Montreal Canadiens' practices to be.

Julien finally got to put the Canadiens through a full workout with no distractions on Monday. It was aimed mostly at convincing his struggling team that tighter defence will lead to more scoring chances on attack.

"He wanted it to be 40 minutes of high pace, high intensity, so when it comes to game time it's second nature," said defenceman Jeff Petry.

Julien, who replaced Michel Therrien last week, will be seeking a first victory since returning to Montreal when the Canadiens face the Rangers in New York on Tuesday night. His debut saw the club fall 3-1 at home to the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday.

He had only one practice with the team before his first game and it was something of a circus, with fans jammed into the viewing areas at the team's suburban training centre and two all-sports television stations covering the event live. Another practice Sunday at the Bell Centre was a promotional event in front of 10,000 shrieking kids.

It added to the challenge for Julien to put into effect the changes he hopes will snap the Canadiens out of a 1-6-1 slump in which they have scored only 10 goals, four of them by captain Max Pacioretty and another two from his linemate Alexander Radulov.

Julien wants his team to spend less time in its own zone and more time harrying opposition goaltenders. That starts with getting the puck more quickly on defence and holding onto it longer in the opponent's end.

"What we want to try to do, and what we did today, is to try to be better defensively for goals against and chances against," he said. "But more than that, if we're better defensively we can (get) the puck quickly.

"I want us to play with the puck, not without it. I'm looking for puck possession time. It's not necessarily about analytics, it's that if we have the puck more, our chances are much better of winning."

It's a formula that worked for most of the 10 seasons Julien spent with the Boston Bruins before he was replaced by Bruce Cassidy two weeks ago. …

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