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The funny story behind the ‘Tuukka Rask to start’ misconception

10.21.10 at 10:41 pm ET
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Tim Thomas sat by alone after the Bruins’ morning skate, unbothered by the media, yet crowded by scribes as they gathered to talk to the guy next to him.

It was Tuukka Rask fielding all the questions after the morning skate, as he left the ice first for the Bruins, something that is generally taken as a sign that he would be the starting netminder for that night’s game. Reporters asked him of his excitement for the game, and he gave some oddly worded answers, but the writers ran with it.

‘€œIt’€™s fun,’€ Rask said after the skate. ‘€œIt’€™s been a while since [my] last start, so it should be great.’€

It’s fun? Hey, a quote’s a quote, and when it’s the answer to the “how excited are you to start tonight?” question, it’s seemingly worth something. Little did the media know that they were talking to the wrong guy.

Thomas led the Bruins out onto the ice on Thursday night as those fooled — a group including this writer — immediately realized the charade. Rask never said he was starting. All he said was that “it’s fun” and that he hadn’t started in a few games.

A grinning Rask looked both proud and amused after the 4-1 victory, half-jokingly maintaining that he was “just answering” a question, which is absolutely true. No harm, no foul — except on the media’s part. Just laughs and a red-faced Big Bad Blogger. Rask told WEEI.com a day earlier that with regard to the “goalie controversy,” he understood that writers were going to write what they were going to write. Maybe this reporter should have kept that in mind.

Thomas, meanwhile, had some time to himself as reporters hounded Rask.

“I knew [I was going to start] from yesterday, and nobody asked me this morning,” Thomas said after the game, laughing as he quipped that he “wouldn’t have told you anyways.”

Rask didn’t lie to reporters on Thursday. He didn’t say he was starting. He simply took an opportunity to prove once and for all that he isn’t worried about who gets to start each game, and what an amusing statement it was.

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Bruins beat Capitals, 4-1, in home opener

10.21.10 at 9:31 pm ET
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Michael Ryder, Jordan Caron, Nathan Horton and Zdeno Chara all scored for the Bruins and Tim Thomas turned in his latest stellar performance as the B’s beat the Capitals, 4-1, in their home opener Thursday night.

Ryder, Horton, and Chara saw their goals come on the power play, an impressive sight given that the team had converted on just one of 15 opportunities entering the night.

Thomas was nothing short of outstanding, allowing one fluky goal (see below) on 39 shots faced. Thomas has now started four games in a row for the Bruins and has won them all. The B’s are now 4-1 on the season.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

- That clever little trick Tuukka Rask and Claude Julien pulled on the media can be appreciated given how outstanding Thomas once again was. Rask came off the ice in the morning skate first and with a grin spoke of his excitement to get a start. Of course, the Bruins sat Rask for the fourth-straight game, giving the Thomas the start and fooling reporters in the process.

While Rask’s sense of humor was a bright spot of the day, Thomas stole the show for the fourth straight game. He made many a highlight reel save and recovered tremendously each time the Capitals had a chance at catching the 36-year-old goaltender out of position.

There were many “if they didn’t score there, they just won’t score tonight for the moments,” on the night prior to the Caps’ lone goal, with a couple of huge saves on old friend Mike Knuble standing out in particular. Thomas has now allowed just three goals in four starts this season.

- The power play is mentioned in the “What went right” category! The Bruins scored on three of four power plays thanks to tallies from Ryder, Horton and Chara.

Improving the power play to 4-for-19 on the season was no small task against a Capitals team that entered the night having not allowed a power play goal in 25 chances. The Capitals themselves were 0-for-4 on the power play.

- The Bruins won this game in many areas, but let’s not let their neutral zone play go unnoticed. The Bruins created turnovers throughout the night, especially early on, in between the blue lines, creating many plenty of offensive opportunities for themselves and limiting whatever damage the Capitals could attempt on Thomas.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

- The shutout bid ended at 9:27 of the third period in rather ugly fashion. Thomas came out of his net to send a puck back up from the hashmarks, but Jason Chimera entered the zone and intercepted it, picking up his second goal of the season with ease and ending preventing Thomas from getting his second shutout of the season.

- This should be indicative of just how good a night it was for the Bruins. Semyon Varlamov or bad bounces prevented the two rookies — who both had very good games in their first regular season sample of the Garden — from putting scoring YouTube-bound goals. Tyler Seguin, who had an assist on Ryder’s goal, fooled the Washington defense handily by faking a dump-and-change in the first period before losing control, while Caron squandered a bid for his second goal later in the game. Boy, what a terrible night it is when you can’t win, 5-1′€¦

- Don’t quite get all the sneering at anthem singer Steven Tyler. Nobody expected the guy to hit a note, and he hit them all. Sneering unjustified.

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Jordan Caron, Nathan Horton add to Bruins’ lead in the second period

10.21.10 at 8:37 pm ET
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Nathan Horton said on Wednesday that the Bruins’ power play would be better. He backed up that talk by boosting the team’s power play stats, beating Semyon Varlamov with a snapshot from the top of the circle with a snapshot through traffic to give the Bruins a 3-0 lead after two periods of play.

With Horton’s goal, the Bruins are 2-for-3 on the power play and 3-for-18 on the season. The Capitals, who hadn’t allowed a power play goal before Michael Ryder’s first period strike, have now allowed two power play goals in 28 chances.

Jordan Caron picked up his second goal of the season to put the Bruins up 2-0 at 2:22 of the period, taking a beautiful feed from a behind-the-net Patrice Bergeron and beating Varlamov top shelf.

Tim Thomas continues to dazzle in net, as he’s stopped all 26 shots he’s faced, including what seemed like a Mike Knuble freebie off a big bounce off the boards late in the period. The two teams are dead even with shots on goal at 26 apiece, though the Bruins outshot the Capitals, 18-13, in the second.

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Tyler Seguin makes headlines with his scoring and passing, but his hand-eye coordination is remarkable for an 18-year-old. Seguin, with his back to the play and in the neutral zone, knocked down a pass above waist level from Michael Ryder coming out of his own end and was able to control it quickly enough to feed it right back to Ryder as the winger entered the offensive zone.

Bruins up 1-0 on Ryder’s PP goal

10.21.10 at 7:50 pm ET
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Michael Ryder has the Bruins on top 1-0 after one period, as he picked up the team’s second power play goal in 16 chances on the season. The Bruins had other opportunities as well, as they looked impressive in turning neutral zone turnovers into scoring chances. Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin each made bids, but it was Ryder’s power play goal with 27.5 seconds left in the period, assisted by Patrice Bergeron and Seguin that had those on hand at the home opener satisfied after one.

Regarding the goaltending, it was another period and another handful of terrific saves from Tim Thomas. The 36-year-old, playing in his fourth straight game, robbed the Capitals forwards on multiple occasions, with Brooks Laich and Alexander Ovechkin a couple of notable victims. The Captials outshot the Bruins, 13-8, in the period. Ryder’s goal was also the first power play goal the Capitals have allowed this season.

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You’ve got to love this Bruins fourth line and the energy it can bring. Shawn Thornton outmuscled his way around the offensive zone, tossing two shots on Varlamov and doing a terrific job of keeping the puck in. Additionally, Gregory Campbell had a point-blank bid on a rebound right in front of Varlamov with about six minutes remaining in the period but was stoned by the Washington netminder.

There were two penalties called in the period, a boarding call against Andrew Ference and a tripping call against Matt Hendricks.

UPDATE: Thomas to start for Bruins

10.21.10 at 6:37 pm ET
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While the media tries to figure out just why such mixed signals were sent Thursday morning, Tim Thomas was the first onto the ice for the Bruins in warmups, meaning he’ll get the nod in net for the B’s, his fourth straight start.

Rask was the first off the ice in practice and spoke to the media after practice about his excitement to get the start. Claude Julien, meanwhile, told the media that, “you’ll see at 7.” Thomas has started the last three games for the Bruins, allowing two goals over a span in which the B’s picked up three straight wins.

Expect the same lines for the Bruins:

Milan LucicDavid KrejciNathan Horton

Jordan Caron – Patrice BergeronBlake Wheeler

Mark RecchiTyler SeguinMichael Ryder

Brad MarchandGregory CampbellShawn Thornton

Zdeno CharaJohnny Boychuk

Mark StuartDennis Seidenberg

Matt Hunwick – Andrew Ference

Tim Thomas

Tuukka Rask

The last time the Garden will look like this for a while

10.21.10 at 6:15 pm ET
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…Well, figuratively, anyway. Here’s a shot of an empty Garden just seconds before fans started filing in. From the insane flashing lights they were testing during the day, the opening festivities should be quite the spectacle. Plus, Steven Tyler’s going to be there. What’s not to like?

Cam Neely on D&H: B’s will go slow with Tyler Seguin

10.21.10 at 1:01 pm ET
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Bruins President Cam Neely joined the Dale & Holley show to talk about the B’s as they return to the Garden ice Thursday night for their home opener. Neely talked about the team’s plans for rookie Tyler Seguin, why signing Zdeno Chara to a seven-year contract was the right move and his thoughts on the goaltending situation.

(To hear the whole interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page).

Neely said the Bruins were in an enviable position with Seguin, the second pick in the draft, because they have so much depth. “You have to be careful with expectations for an 18-year-old regardless of where he goes in the draft,” Neely said. “Some can adapt quicker than others, some have the size and strength of an NHL player, some don’t. With Tyler, we’re taking it very slow, we’re taking it very cautious with him.

“We’re certainly in a different position than most second overall picks would be in, they generally are on a team that maybe isn’t as deep as what we currently have. We’re able to have in ease him into this league and get comfortable, learn a little bit more on the defensive side. We expect him to get better and better as time goes on.”

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Read More: Cam Neely, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin, Zdeno Cara
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