|09.19.11 at 12:44 pm ET|
Thomas wasn’t quite as aggressive Monday as he was when he took out the Vancouver forward with a mighty shove in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup finals, but he did provide a reminder that anyone trying to score on him had better watch out.
Russian youngster Alexander Khokhlachev, the team’s 2011 second-round pick, was coming in on Thomas during a shootout drill when Thomas darted out of his net to break up the forward’s bid. Seconds later, Khokhlachev was lying in the corner having crashed into the boards as a result of the play. He’d been tripped up by Thomas’ stick, and though he was OK, teammates exclaimed sarcastic jeers of “way to go, Timmy” to guilt the reigning Vezina winner.
Thomas could take the flack from his teammates, as he’s glad the play could be a laughing matter rather than one that featured an injury.
“Well, he lost the puck there,” Thomas said. “I hesitated just a second there and then I was like, ‘I’m going to go get it’ but then I missed the poke-check. Then, well, I just tried to stop, but I didn’t. I’m just glad nobody was hurt. We’re just playing around there.”
It’s hard for Thomas not to be competitive, but after a play like Monday’s, he noted it’s important to keep things in perspective in the first week of training camp.
“When you compete for as long as we did, it’s going to take you a while before you really want to up your competitive level,” he said. “This is the third day of camp. Let’s be honest, it doesn’t mean anything.”
|09.19.11 at 12:37 pm ET|
Group A of the Bruins’ training camp squads kicked off the third day of on-ice work Monday at TD Garden. The practice consisted of two sessions, with a good chunk of scrimmage time worked in.
The B’s will hold a full black-and-white scrimmage Tuesday night in Providence, with Group A taking on Group B.
|09.17.11 at 3:44 pm ET|
The Bruins return 11 forwards who saw significant playing time last season, meaning there is likely only one spot in the regular lineup open up front. One of the candidates to fill it is 2009 first-round pick Jordan Caron, who last season registered 12 goals and 16 assists in 47 games with Providence and three goals and four assists in 23 games with Boston.
Caron was a member of the “Black Aces” that served as healthy scratches during the playoffs, and he got the chance to practice with the big club during the Stanley Cup final after Nathan Horton went down. Caron said he is fully aware of what’s up for grabs during this training camp.
“There might be a spot open, but it’s going to be my job to earn it and win it,” Caron said. “If I play like I’m supposed to and I do what I have to do, I think I have a good chance to win the job.”
The 6-foot-2 winger said his biggest assets are his two-way play and his ability to battle in corners and create space for his linemates. He said the one thing he continues to work on the most is his skating, which was described as “average” by some scouts before he was drafted.
“For me, it’s always been my skating,” Caron said. “Keep improving my skating, my explosion and moving my feet. I worked a lot on that over the summer, like I do every summer. I think every year I’m getting better at it.”
His improvement in that area, as well as everywhere else, hasn’t gone unnoticed.
“I was watching him today, and he was certainly a guy that kind of grabbed my attention,” Claude Julien said. “He’s got good size. He seemed to be skating well. That’s what he did last year, as well — he was skating well and had good jump. Hopefully with a year of experience at the pro level now, he’ll be able to maintain that jump.
“He’s a pretty smart player. He’s got good hockey sense, and you see his reads are pretty good. He’s one of those guys that’s battling for a job, and we’re certainly going to keep a close eye on him.”
|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.”