|10.28.10 at 1:13 pm ET|
Tim Thomas appears set to make his fifth start of the season after being first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate. Thomas is 4-0 on the season with a 0.75 goals against average and a .980 save percentage. Should Thomas be between the pipes on Thursday vs. Toronto, he’ll face an old teammate in Phil Kessel, who was traded to the Leafs prior to last season.
Thomas can understand the hoopla surrounding Kessel, but noted after the morning skate that the B’s have more to worry about than one player.
“It isn’t the Boston Bruins vs. Phil Kessel, it’s the Boston Bruins vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Thomas said. “Phil is definitely a part, and you have to be aware of him. It takes a lot of hard work. You’ve got to be on your toes all the time because he’s so exploise and so fast and he’s got that quick snap shot. As a goalie, I have to be on my toes and try to find it through traffic. That’s how I’m going to deal with it.”
Thomas said that he doesn’t necessarily feel he has an advantage against a former teammate just because he was used to practicing against him.
“I’m sure he’s learning new tricks all the time,” Thomas said of Kessel. “I don’t want to cheat when I get into a game based on what I think he would do in practice. What he does in practice and what he does in the game are two different things.”
|10.28.10 at 12:58 pm ET|
Claude Julien had plenty of media on hand for his press conference Thursday from both the Boston and Toronto outlets. The Maple Leafs are in town as Phil Kessel tries to notch his first goal against his former club, while Tyler Seguin, a player chosen with one of the picks received in the Kessel deal, will play against the team he grew up rooting for. Seguin grew up in Brampton, Ontario, about 40 minutes away from Toronto.
“I am not going to stand back here and deny that this is a pretty special game for Tyler. … I mean his emotions are going to be running high tonight, there is no doubt about that,” Julien said of the second overall pick in June’s draft. “There’s a certain extent that [if] you see that as becoming an issue, you’ve got to address it, but heis a pretty level-headed individual that’s been able to handle situations pretty well so far and I don’t see it being an issue tonight.”
Asked by a Finnish reporter about the team’s goaltending situation, Julien adressed it as such: “Plain and simple, I don’t have a No. 2 goalie. That’s the dilemma I have right now. I don’t have a backup. I have two No. 1’s.”
|10.28.10 at 12:27 pm ET|
Former Bruins fifth overall pick Phil Kessel spoke with the media Thursday as he and the Maple Leafs prepare to take on the B’s at TD Garden. Kessel was traded to the Leafs for a package of draft picks (one of which was spent on Tyler Seguin) and went without a goal in six games against his former club last season.
“I don’t want to stick it to them, I want to obviously play well,” Kessel said. “Last year I had a lot of chances, I just didn’t score. Hopefully I can change it this year and the most important thing is just getting wins.
“They’re a good team over there, so it’s not easy to score against them anyways,” he added. Kessel noted that he isn’t concerned with the reaction given to him by the crowd, who he said can “do whatever they want.”
The Bruins were unable to strike a long-term deal with Kessel prior to the trade, but the way things ended in Boston won’t change the 23-year-old’s view of the city and his experience.
“I loved it here,” Kessel said. “They city was great to me, the fans were great to me. I loved playing here and I had great teammates here. Obviously, it didn’t work out, but that happens.”
Seguin and Kessel met over the summer in Atlantic City for a Bauer promotion they were doing, with Seguin saying Wednesday that the two discussed the cities of Boston and Toronto. Kessel gave Seguin pointers on local dining and other goings on. One topic that was not brought up, as noted by Kessel on Thursday, was that the two will likely be linked to one another for their entire careers because of the trade, which also sent a 2010 second-rounder and a 2011 first-rounder to the B’s.
“No, we never talked about that,” Kessel said. “I don’t think it’s that big of a deal.”
If the former 36-goal-scorer truly believes that it isn’t a big deal, he’ll be in for a surprise when Seguin-mania meets Kessel-mania for those on hand at the Garden Thursday night. Kessel has seven goals on the season, good for third-best in the NHL.
Kessel did say on Thursday that he feels for Marc Savard, who the Bruins have been without all season due to post-concussion syndrom symptoms. Kessel kept up with following Savard’s progress as he initially tried coming back from a March 7 hit from the Penguins‘ Matt Cooke, and hopes his former teammate can overcome his current setback.
“I’ve talked to him a little bit, but not lately,” Kessel said. “Not for a while. When [the concussion] happened, I sent him a text or two. Obviously I followed it. Obviously it’s a tough issue and hopefully he can come through.
“I feel terrible for him,” he added. “Obviously, any player that gets hurt like that, it’s not a good thing.”
|10.27.10 at 9:27 pm ET|
Cam Neely was born in British Columbia and didn’t become a dual citizen until a couple of years ago, yet it’s unquestioned that his impact on hockey in America has been far-reaching. As a result, it was no surprise to see him among the recipients of the Lester Patrick Award for his contributions to hockey in the United States.
It took the Bruins’ 1986 deal with Vancouver to get Neely to the states, and the deal was highly beneficial to a number of people for a number of reasons. The trade rescued a 20-year-old Neely from fourth-line minutes, but the man who made the trade, which sent Barry Pederson, to the Canucks for Neely and a first-round pick, notes that Neely may have helped him as much as he helped Neely.
‘If I hadn’t made the trade, I would’ve been probably an advisor to the owner a lot earlier,’ Harry Sinden said with a laugh prior to Wednesday’s award ceremony.
It was in Boston where he established himself as a one-of-a-kind player, as Sinden noted that he has never seen a 50-goal scorer (something Neely was three times in his career, once accomplishing it in 49 games) play with the edge that Neely did, though he pointed to Alexander Ovechkin as the closest thing to it. Neely said Wednesday that the trade to Boston and embracing the style of hockey he knew he could make made all the difference in making the jump from a 14-goal-scorer (his total in his final year in Vancouver) to the player he became.
“Here’s another opportunity to show another organization maybe what I didn’t get the opportunity to show Vancouver,” Neely recalled thinking at the time of the deal. “For me, it was all about playing physical. I knew how I played in junior hockey, and I was playing physical and I knew that I could score goals, but the physical part obviously is a lot easier than scoring goals. I just said to myself, ‘I’m going to go there, and when I have an opportunity to take the body, I’m going to take the body.’ I knew for the most part that I could handle myself if somebody didn’t like that, so I was prepared for what came with me playing physical.”
Jack Parker, another Lester Patrick recipient on Wednesday, spoke highly of the player he saw arrive, noting that Neely’s celebrity in Boston has helped him compile talent in recent years. The three-time NCAA championship-winning Boston University coach felt that having a player like Neely to look up to served in inspiring kids throughout New England to get into hockey. Without Neely, Parker said, the team simply wouldn’t have as many local prospects to choose from.
Now president of the Bruins and someone who inspires the current squad, the impact that Neely has made on an organization, a town, a country, and a sport, continues to be felt. But what if the trade never happened? Aside from Sinden’s quip, Boston sports and hockey in America would be far different.
“I have thought about that, and the only conclusion that I could come up with is that I probably wouldn’t have been able to accomplish what I did,” Neely said. “What I would have been able to accomplish, I can’t really say. It’s impossible to say, but maybe if I went to another team, something similar would have happened, but obviously coming here was the best thing at the best time for me.”
|10.27.10 at 4:20 pm ET|
The Bruins announced on Wednesday that they wil hold “Milt Schmidt Night” prior to the team’s game against the Maple Leafs on Thursday at TD Garden. The festivities will begin at 5:15 pm, with the unveiling of Schmidt exhibit at the Sports Museum.
Schmidt is the only person in team history to serve as a player, captain, coach and GM with the Bruins. He won two Stanley Cups as a player in 1939 and 1941 and added two more as a GM in 1970 and 1972. He had 229-346= 575 totals with the Bruins in 776 career games.
|10.27.10 at 3:57 pm ET|
The Bruins are preparing for their first match-up against the Toronto Maple Leafs Thursday night, in an always-anticipated clash of original six teams. In the 2009-10 season, the Maple Leafs were nothing special, finishing at the bottom of the Northeast Division with a 30-38-14 record. Now, eight games into 2010-11, it seems the Leafs have turned things around. Toronto won its first four starts, then dropped three games in a row before picking up a 3-1 victory over the Panthers Tuesday night. The Leafs’ 5-2-1 record currently has them sitting atop the division standings.
‘They’re a good team, they’re a young team,’ Patrice Bergeron said after practice on Wednesday. ‘Their players have developed into good players so I think that’s why they’re improved.’
Right wing Nathan Horton said he knows the Leafs have shown plenty of reasons for other teams to fear them thus far.
“Their defensemen are big, strong, physical, and their forwards are quick and fast,’ Horton said, adding the Bruins will need to be prepared to work for 60 minutes on Thursday. Coach Claude Julien seemed to agree, noting that the B’s are ‘facing a team that’s coming in with lots of confidence, lots of speed and lots of energy.’
Speaking of energy, it has seemed to be just that the B’s have lacked early on in each of their losses this season. On Saturday, the Rangers put up a quick 2-0 lead on the Bruins in the first period, and the Bruins, despite getting goals from Zdeno Chara and Horton, were never quite able to make a full comeback.
‘I think it’s just about making sure we have a good first couple shifts and be good on the forecheck right away,’ Bergeron said. ‘If we get scored one goal against, we’ve got to make sure we keep our balance instead of just getting back over our heels for a couple shifts and letting them score another one.’
|10.27.10 at 2:31 pm ET|
NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday for his weekly hockey update and discussion of other hot topics regarding the Bruins. Milbury also talked about the latest debate, which has been the goaltender situation thus far in the season.
“It’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka [Rask],” Milbury said. “I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because [Tim] Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things … is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.”
Following are highlights from the conversation. To hear the entire interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.
Can we assume the hype we saw last night in Boston won’t be matched, but will at least be evident as Phil Kessel returns to the Garden with the Maple Leafs tomorrow night?
Yeah, it’ll be fun, and the Maple Leafs are winning their share of games, so it should be competitive. They’re not trading on the back end. I mean, they’re supposed to be strong on the blue line, but they’ll, they cough it up regularly, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to score. [Jean-Sebastien] Giguere‘s been backstopping the goals against, so it’s been OK, but they’re a vulnerable team, but at least they’re playing with some vinegar, and so it should be a pretty good matchup.
If each goaltender starts roughly 40 games, what’s the best way to handle two goaltenders, and Tuukka, who’s been shaky lately?
That’s a great question. I mean, it’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka. I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things, before I try to answer that question, that has conspired against Rask and Thomas is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.
But once they get into the need of their schedule, you know, I think there’s plenty of room to let a guy run two, three or even four games in a row. But if you really want to keep the party going in terms of competition, once you get into five and six games in a row for one guy, you’re asking much from the other guy to just bounce back and be excellent in his first start.
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