Bruins commence Cassidy era against Sharks (Feb 09, 2017)

BY AP • February 8, 2017

BOSTON -- For the first time since April 4, 2007, the Boston Bruins will play for someone other than Claude Julien when they host the San Jose Sharks Thursday night.

The game, coming two days after Julien was fired, starts a stretch of three home games in four nights that could have a great effect on whether the Bruins can end their run of two straight seasons out of the playoffs.

On Tuesday, while the New England Patriots were riding through the streets of Boston on duck boats after their Super Bowl win, the Bruins announced that Julien, who coached the team to the 2011 Stanley Cup, was being "relieved of his duties."

Enter assistant coach Bruce Cassidy, as the Bruins, currently on the outside of the playoff picture looking in, try to catch some of the lightning that can turn a team around after a coaching change -- the New York Islanders and St. Louis Blues being the latest examples of how that can work.

Cassidy, who had been coaching the Providence Bruins before joining the Boston staff this season, is the interim coach (and a candidate to stay) and says his goal is for the Bruins to pick up the pace.

"Today our focus was on our pace in practice and on playing at a higher pace, playing on our toes as opposed to our heels and if we can start building those habits into practice then you want them to translate into a game," Cassidy said after his first practice.

"Tomorrow we'll go back to work in that area and hopefully see some results in the short-term and the long-term in terms of that process."

Three home games in four days is usually good news for an NHL team. But the Bruins (26-23-6) are just 12-13 at home as they face the Sharks, the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday and the rival Montreal Canadiens on Sunday night. The Sharks and Canadiens are both in first place in their divisions.

Tuukka Rask, chased in his last start Saturday after allowing four goals in just over half a game as the Toronto Maple Leafs ended the Julien era with a 6-5 win over the Bruins, is set to make his 13th straight start, the 19th in the last 20 games. Backups Anton Khudobin and Zane McIntyre have been trading places between Boston and Providence. Khudobin is the latest recall and may play in Saturday's game.

The Sharks (33-17-4) are 0-0-2 in their last two games, blowing a three-goal lead and losing 5-4 in overtime at the Buffalo Sabres on Tuesday night, and have lost three of their last five after a six-game winning streak.

"I felt like (Atlanta Falcons coach) Dan Quinn in Super Bowl Sunday," Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said after Tuesday's game. "It was one of those games. Thank God it wasn't the finals, it was a game in the middle of February and we found a way to get a point."

Martin Jones, once a Bruin but quickly moved in the Milan Lucic to Los Angeles deal, has started the last five games for San Jose, while Aaron Dell is 6-2 on the season. Jones is 1-0 with four goals against in his only start against the Bruins.

Rask is 3-3 with a 3.19 goals against average and .904 save percentage against the Sharks.

Thursday also marks the latest return to Boston of former Bruins captain Joe Thornton, who has four goals and 11 points in 13 games against his old team since leaving in a 2005 trade.

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