In a surprising and sudden move, the Canadiens fired head coach Michel Therrien and promptly hired former Bruins head man Claude Julien.
Julien was relieved of his duties last Tuesday after spending ten seasons with the Bruins, leading them to one Stanley Cup title and another Finals appearance. He was replaced by Bruce Cassidy, and the B’s are a perfect 3-0-0 since his departure, with the last victory coming in a dominant 4-0 win over the Canadiens on Sunday night.
Both Montreal and Boston are currently in the middle of their league-mandated bye week in the schedule, and both squads are required to take five days off the ice before practicing this weekend.
Julien will have his hands full in Montreal, as the Canadiens have been struggling mightily lately after a torrid 9-0-1 start to the season. The Habs are currently six points ahead of Ottawa and Boston atop the Atlantic Division, but the Senators have five games in hand over both Montreal and Boston (who have each played the most games in the Eastern Conference going into their off week). Montreal is 1-5-1 in the month of February, scoring just five goals in their six losses. Montreal hasn’t won consecutive games since January 3-7, and is just 1-for-19 this month on the power play.
Julien’s defense-first style of coaching wouldn’t seem to fit in with Montreal’s current issues, so it will be interesting to see if the Habs actually think he could be the long-term solution or were just trying to block other teams (like the expansion Vegas Golden Knights) from hiring one of the best free agent coaches in recent history.
Unfortunately for Bruins fans, the next time the two heated rivals could meet would be in the playoffs, but at this point it’s not a lock that either team would even make it to the postseason. B’s fans may have to save their boos for next season - unless Julien is coaching elsewhere (because we don’t cheer Canadiens players or coaches… no excuses!).
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