Rabid Habs

The Forum: Has Claude Julien Turned the Habs Around?

MONTREAL, CANADA - APRIL 26: Headcoach of the Boston Bruins Claude Julien at the post game press conference after Game Six of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at the Bell Centre on April 26, 2011 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.   (Photo by Francois Lacasse/NHLI via Getty Images) *** Local Caption *** Claude Julien;

Claude Julien has been head coach of the Montreal Canadiens for 8 games now, and though he lost two of his first three behind the Habs bench, he is now 6-2-0 as the Canadiens bench boss and has the Habs on a five-game winning streak. Has Claude Julien managed to turn the Habs around? We put that question to our contributors.


Ian Boisvert (@Boisvertian) – Not only has he completely turned this team around, but every game under Julien gets better and better. There were some hiccups like the first half of the game against New Jersey and the Islanders game, but there have been some huge triumphs as well. The Habs took an emotional two points away from the Nashville Predators (sorry Sean) and then followed it up with what will probably be the most complete effort you’ll see from the Habs all season at MSG.

It’s too early to show statistically that Julien has completely turned this team around, and I’m not sure taking statistics from a five-game winning streak is the most responsible thing to do. The sample size is too small, so, for now, the eye test will have to do. And that’s not inherently a bad thing, because under Julien, the Canadiens are fun to watch again. They don’t seem to bleed high-danger scoring chances anymore, and they get a lot more looks at the opponent’s net.

And if the Nashville game and the New York game are any indication of future trends, the Habs’ may get some secondary scoring help going forward. By no means am I saying that everything is perfect at the moment, but there’s a lot to like about Julien’s Canadiens. I can think of one person who would agree with me; Carey Price. Since Julien took over, Price has a .939 save percentage and looks like a Vezina caliber goaltender again. Happy goalie, happy team.

Claudio D’Andrea (@cdbytor) – I don’t know about the Nashville game (seems to me the Habs were lucky to sneak out a win in that one) but they were full-on value for the win in New York.

Hoping that that game is a sign of good things to come, I think maybe it was a combination of Julien’s coaching management and Bergevin’s shrewd trade deadline additions that made the difference. The Habs are much tougher. And they’re winning face-offs. Both of those improvements led to greater possession stats and that led to greater goal scoring opportunities.

I think those two improvements (especially the face-offs) will do a world of wonders in their powerplay performance which has been awful. I’m anxious to see how they will look on their next man-advantage.

Martinsen and Benn, in particular, look like perfect fits with the Habs.

I do agree though that the Canadiens seem more energized and motivated under Julien. They were flying at MSG — the Rangers didn’t know (and probably couldn’t see) what was coming at them.

Olivia Lawrence (@Radulove47) – I think Claude Julien has turn the Habs around ! The last few months watching Habs games have been a snore fest until the last 10 or so minutes of the 3rd period: too little, too late. Now, I love the energy they are giving from puck drop till the last second of the game. There’s an actual system into place. The team may have gotten tougher at the trade deadline, but it seems to work well thus far. Julien won the Cup in 2011 with the Bruins, a team that was hard to beat with great goaltending. I believe that’s what Marc Bergevin was trying to create since acquiring Shaw and trading Subban for Weber. Every trade since this time backs this up in my opinion. I can’t wait to see what else Julien can do for this team!

Kyle Roussel (@kyleroussel) – I think it’s still too early to know whether it’s the honeymoon portion of Julien 2.0, or if his new strategies are actually paying off. As usual, it’s probably a little of both. For the former, having a re-motivated Price means the world to this team (it may be all that really matters at the end of the day), and for the latter, I think the breakouts have helped a ton.

I agree that the win vs the Rangers is likely the most complete team effort we’ve seen in a long while. Then again, that seems to be the norm vs the Rangers in recent years (playoffs notwithstanding).

But at the end of the day, we blamed Therrien for the ills of the team, so we have to credit Julien with the turnaround, and so until proven otherwise, I’ll say that he’s the main driver behind this apparent turnaround

Will Harte (@willharte) – You could feel it in that 4-1 win over the Rangers on Saturday night, couldn’t you? I mean, some sense that the Canadiens really are a better team than the Hapless Habs of only several weeks ago.

The departure last month of Therrien was, in retrospect, a long time coming, and the return of Claude Julien behind the bench is clearly a serious upgrade (that I did most definitely did not predict). But until Saturday, it seemed that Montreal was just riding a resurgent Carey Price and getting goals from guys who had been long overdue. The Rangers game, even though it featured much of the same, felt somehow different. Maybe it was Bergevin’s trade-deadline acquisitions and the addition of size on the ice (most notably in the person of Jordie Benn), or the 35 shots the Habs put on Lundqvist. I don’t know.

From what I have seen the last couple years, CP’s performance between the pipes means more than anything when it comes to the viability of this team. His .949 SV% and 1.40 GAA under Julien (compared with .917/ 2.46 prior) is huge. Has Claude turned the bus around on 2016-17? For sure. The playoffs, which recently looked pretty tenuous to me, now seem a safe bet. Does that mean Montreal makes it to the Conference Finals this year? I have no idea. Ask Alex Radulov! Max may be captain and tied for third in the league with 31 goals, but #47 is the heart and soul of this team. Let’s hope that LBI isn’t serious.

Anyhow, what with all the changes over the past three weeks, I’m hesitant to make any predictions for the rest of the season. When it comes to the Habs, I just worry that I can’t see the forest for the potted plants.