November 15, 2011

Julien: Big difference between hits, collisions with goalies

Leafs forward Tyler Bozak crashes into Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. (Getty)

By Jesse Connolly

BOSTON -- The ruling on whether or not to suspend Milan Lucic is in the books, but the debate will rage on for quite some time.

Fair game or not? That's the question when it comes to goaltenders after Ryan Miller's collision with No. 17 in Black and Gold on Saturday night, as the Sabres' netminder charged well out of his crease to play the puck only to get inadvertently run over by a charging Lucic.

As currently constitued, the rule book states that goalies are not fair game -- no matter how far they roam. Bruins coach Claude Julien believes it should stay that way, but also stressed that accidents are bound to happen in those situations.

 "I don't think they should be hit," the coach said. "Absolutely not. But there's a difference between a hit and a collision and that's always going to be a grey area in everybody's minds. Some people are going to call certain things a hit, some people are going to call it a collision. So, I mean, as far as I'm concerned, as a coach, I'll abide to any rule they want to put in there.

"If they say you can't touch them at all, then you can't touch them at all. If they keep the rule the way it is, then let's keep the rule the way it is. And I know for a fact that if Milan had intended on hitting him, he [Ryan Miller] would have never got up. We all know how hard he hits. That speaks for itself."

And because of that, Julien wasn't surprised to learn one of his top players wasn't being reprimanded. However, the coach was disappointed that a stellar week by Tyler Seguin got lost in the shufle because of the incident.

"From our end of it, we were convinced it wasn't deliberate and we were hoping that that's the decision that was going to be taken and it was," said Julien. "And probably the most unfortunate part of that too, although it's something you don't want to see, is that we have a young player also who was First Star of the Week [Seguin] and we seem to be wanting to talk about the other stuff instead of a guy who's done a lot for our team this year and that kind of got overshadowed as well with 'Looch's' situation.

"I think he [Seguin] deserves a lot of credit for what he's done in the last week and I'm pretty proud of his- the way he's played so far this year and that kind of unfortunately seems to be on the back burner right now."

Meanwhile, Lucic remains public enemy No. 1 in Buffalo where both the team and their fans are lamenting Brendan Shanahan's decision to not punish Lucic. In fact, they've gone as far as to say that the incident will now encourage all players throughout the league to make it open season on goaltenders.

"That's just talking," Julien said of the Sabres' nonsensical statement. "We're certainly not going to get into that. You know, people get frustrated, people talk and you don't hold those kind of things against people like that. They're entitled to their opinion and you just move along here. We can't react to everything that's being said out there. Everybody has their own opinion and we're just happy it was dealt with the way it is and we're ready to move on."

Boston will move on and put the Sabes behind them -- for now -- when they welcome the Devils to TD Garden tonight, as the Bruins will look to extend their winning streak to six games.