|09.17.11 at 1:32 pm ET|
Last year, Tim Thomas put together one of the best seasons any goaltender has ever had. He compiled a 35-11-9 record, 2.00 goals-against average and NHL-record .938 save percentage. He collected his second Vezina Trophy and won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. The only downside to all that is it sets the bar at a seemingly impossible height for this season.
“I think Tim’s biggest challenge is going to be being able to duplicate what he did last year,” Claude Julien said Friday. “If he ever comes close to doing that, we know we’re going to have a good goaltender, because his season last year was outstanding.
“He’s one of those players, like everybody else, who has to be willing to up his game. That doesn’t necessarily mean be better. Just to be as consistent as he was last year means he’s going to have to up his game, in my mind. That’s the one thing Timmy’s capable of doing when he sets his mind to it.”
After the first official practice of the season on Saturday, Thomas refused to talk about any of that just yet.
“It’s the first day of camp,” Thomas said. “You look to improve each day. I’d rather focus on the smaller picture than to get into that stuff right now.
“I’m gonna take a day off from that. It’s the first day of camp. Just enjoy it, being back on the ice with some of the elite-level hockey players in the world. Focus on that rather than thinking back to what happened last year or thinking forward to what is next year.”
Thomas acknowledged that he would obviously like to match what he did last season, but wouldn’t say any more than that.
“That’s as far as I want to go with that right now,” Thomas said. “I’m worried about getting my skates right, my equipment right. That’s more of where my mind is right now than all that other stuff.”
|09.17.11 at 12:58 pm ET|
Nathan Horton skated on the TD Garden ice Saturday for the first time since Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final, when he suffered a concussion and was carted off on a stretcher. After two hours of practice, he said he felt just fine.
“It definitely feels good,” Horton said. “It feels nice to not have any setbacks, especially today. The first day is always the hardest. I feel good right now, and hopefully I continue to feel good.”
Horton, who was also recovering from a separated shoulder, first returned to the ice last Friday during veterans practice in Wilmington. He said Saturday that he doesn’t have any lingering effects from either injury.
“I wasn’t worried at all,” Horton said. “I just feel like it’s in the past. I haven’t even thought about it. When I’m on the ice or I do the fitness testing, it doesn’t even cross my mind. I just try and do as well as I can and don’t worry about headaches or anything like that.”
This offseason was different for Horton not just because he was recovering from those injuries, but also because it was much shorter than the offseasons he had in Florida, where he never made the playoffs in six seasons.
“It’s fun coming in every year knowing you have a chance to win the Stanley Cup,” Horton said. “That’s what excites me, and I think everyone’s just excited to be back and go for another chance. When you get in the playoffs, like everyone says, it’s a taste you just want to keep getting more of. It was the best experience of my life, obviously, and it was a lot of fun. I just can’t wait to work towards getting back there.”
|09.17.11 at 8:00 am ET|
Ask any of the Bruins to describe their summer, and you’ll hear a lot of guys saying it was the best summer of their lives. The returning members got to celebrate winning the Stanley Cup and got to show off the trophy to their family and friends. As a result, they have had nothing but good things to say about the offseason.
Benoit Pouliot is singing a different tune.
“It was awful,” the newcomer said of his summer as training camp opened.
No, Pouliot wasn’t talking about being non tendered by the Canadiens or anything of that sort. What made it such a terrible summer — in a good way — was his new training program.
Pouliot spent the offseason with Jonathan Chaimberg, a UFC trainer, and it paid off. The 6-foot-3 forward gained weight (he said he was at 208 or 209 pounds at one point — the most he’s ever weighed) and weighed in at 203 on Friday, which is five pounds more than he weighed when playing for the Canadiens last year.
The training program was unorthodox for Pouliot and the other NHL players in attendance, but it did the trick.
“There were some things I’ve never done,” Pouliot said. “There were ladder things. You walk up a ladder for cardio, or push a sled with like 600 or 700 pounds on it. I’m telling you, you don’t want to do it. That was the worst thing ever, but hey I pulled through it. The trainer was so good to me and pushed me so hard that right now I feel great.”
So why did Pouliot seek the help of a UFC trainer?
“I wanted to get bigger,” he said. “Everyone’s been, ‘Hey, you’re not big enough. You’re not big enough. You’re tall, but you’re not [big],’ so I tried to do that as much as I can and now I feel good.”
|09.16.11 at 4:55 pm ET|
One of the shortest fights of the Feb. 9 Bruins/Canadiens penalty-minute bonanza took place between a couple guys who now share a dressing room in Benoit Pouliot and David Krejci.
Pouliot weighed in on the brief bout, in which he took Krejci down with the first actual punch thrown, when he met the media this week, saying that he had spoken to Krejci and that the two were happy to be teammates.
Friday, Krejci echoed Pouliot’s comments.
“It was nothing personal when we fought,” Krejci said. “He wanted to fight. I wanted to fight him, and that’s what happened. ‘¦ There’s no need for him to apologize to me or anything like that. It’s nothing personal. It’s business. That’s what happens in hockey. We talked about it, and he seems like a nice guy. I don’t know him that well yet, but I’m sure he’s a good guy.”
|09.16.11 at 2:58 pm ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference is a strong candidate (and, in one man’s opinion, the best candidate) to potentially wear the “A” that Mark Recchi wore for the Bruins last season. What does he think of joining captain Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron as the letter-bearing Bruins?
“It’s not really on my radar,” Ference said.
Ference has certainly established a voice in the Bruins’ dressing room, but he’s happy that he’s on a team full of players who can be leaders. If he does end up getting the letter, Ference doesn’t planning how he approaches things.
“You see what Rex, how he wore it, and what he did with something like that. He didn’t go out of his way to try to be somebody he wasn’t,” he said. “I’ve mentioned that before with Zee, what a great leader he is because he just is himself. We have a group full of guys who have learned from Zee or Rex and learned those lessons, how Bergie carries himself.
“I think within the confines of the dressing room, I think we all know everybody has their own strengths of leadership, whether it’s by example or some guys are more vocal than others. So whether you have something on your jersey or not, I think you have a responsibility to add what you can to the dressing room. I don’t think it changes who you are or should be or anything like that. It just is what it is, and they’ve got to put it on somebody.”
|09.16.11 at 2:16 pm ET|
Bruins second-year forward Tyler Seguin said Friday that he has gained “a bit more” than 10 pounds since the end of last season after spending the offseason working out in Toronto.
“I’ve gotten stronger,” Seguin said. “All my tests were better, so I definitely feel better, more confident and a bit more mature.”
Seguin spent the offseason working out in Toronto with former Maple Leafs strength and conditioning coach Matt Nichol. Other athletes who train with Nichol include Canadiens forward Mike Cammalleri and Lee Stempniak.
Seguin had 11 goals and 11 assists last season as a rookie. Having now established a roster spot, Seguin said the feeling entering camp now is far different from what it was when he came in last season.
“Last year I was really more blind coming in,” Seguin said. “This year, I know what to expect, so I’m excited to get going. Excited to take that experience into this year.”
Where he figures into the lineup this year is anyone’s guess, as he could remain on a retooled third line or potentially jump up to the second line and take the spot left vacated by Mark Recchi.
|09.16.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
David Krejci is entering the final year of his contract and has communicated a message to his agent.
“I told him to leave me alone,” the Bruins’ first-line center said Friday after fitness testing at TD Garden.
Krejci is set to be a restricted free agent at season’s end, as he is in the last season of the three-year, $11.25 million deal he signed after the 2008-09 season. He likes Boston and would be happy with a new deal, but he made it clear that he doesn’t want to think about one until the sides agree.
“If there’s going to be some talk, [agent Larry Kelly]’s going to keep it to himself, and when he thinks there’s a good deal for me or something, he’ll let me know and I’ll decide. I told him to leave me alone. He knows that from my other contract. I’m going to be focused for a good start, and what happens happens.”
The 25-year-old led all postseason players with 12 goals over the Bruins’ championship run. As such, he’s focused on continuing the success that brought the Stanley Cup to Boston as apposed to worrying about the value of his next deal.
“Obviously, it’s nice that you make a living doing what you love to do, but that’s not why I play hockey,” Krejci said. “I started playing hockey when I was a kid because I loved it, and I still love it. What happens happens. If they’re going to offer me a deal, [general manager Peter Chiarelli] is going to talk to my agent, then he’s going to let me know and we’ll see what happens.”
A Boston Globe report recently stated that talks have opened between Krejci’s agent and the Bruins. Krejci showed he wasn’t kidding about asking to be left out of the loop, as he said Friday that the report was the first he’d heard of the sides talking.
“The first time I heard about it was when I saw on the internet that they’ve opened discussions. That was the first time I’d heard about it,” he said. “I wasn’t thinking about it at all this summer. I’m not going to be talking about it this season either. I’m just going to have a good year, help the team get to the playoffs. ‘¦ That’s where my mind is right now.”
While Krejci’s mind is on hockey, he’s also happy with where he is physically. Krejci spent the offseason following the 2009-10 working his way back from a wrist injury that both ended his playoffs and required surgery. Now coming off a completely healthy season and a relaxing offseason, Krejci is both refreshed and ready to start all over again.
“That was the best summer I’ve had in a long time, maybe in my life,” he said. “I know it was short. [The two years previous to last year] I had some injuries, so I had to do some rehabs and stuff. This one was short, but it was pretty good.”
Krejci had 13 goals in the regular season last year and 49 assists, with his 62 points making it the second highest total o his career. He had 73 in the 2008-09 season.