NESN commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins’ Thursday night game against the Panthers and former Boston goaltender Tim Thomas , as well as Jarome Iginla‘s scoring drought and Brad Marchand‘s demotion to the third line.
Thursday’s game will be the first time that the Bruins will face off against Thomas, who played in Boston for eight seasons and won two Vezina Trophies (2009, 2011) as the league’s best goaltender during his tenure with the team. Thomas is best remembered for his incredible play in the 2011 Stanley Cup  playoffs, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy after posting a .967 save percentage in the Stanley Cup  finals against the Canucks.
After the Bruins were eliminated in the first round of the 2012 playoffs by the Capitals, Thomas announced that he was going to sit out the 2012-13 season. Still under contract with the Bruins during his hiatus, Thomas was traded to the Islanders on Feb. 7, 2013. The 39-year-old goalie then signed a contract with the Panthers on Sept. 26.
Brickey said that Thursday’s game certainly will be interesting, adding that the Bruins are motivated to hand their old teammate another loss on the young season.
“If anything you can [see] from the morning skate, [Thomas] looked good, he looked healthy, he looked pretty focused,” Brickley said. “He looks healthy and ready to go. Those numbers are a little inflated obviously with a little rust from taking the year off and then having to deal with an injury, but you know him and his competitiveness, he’ll be ready to go tonight.
“I don’t know if I would term [the Bruins’ mood towards Thomas] as animosity. The general sense that I get from being around the guys and certainly this morning is that this is a game that they want to win, but whatever personal reasons or whatever feelings they have for Tim Thomas , this is not a love-in. … This is a guy and a team that we want to beat, and want to beat real bad.”
Iginla has yet to score a goal this season.
“He will break out, I don’t know if he’s a 40-goal man in the NHL  anymore, but certainly 25-30,” Brickley said. “The fact that he’s gotten some real good looks is encouraging. Because he’s going to be a first-ballot Hall of Famer, your expectation was that it would be a seamless transition coming in here and playing for the Bruins and having a full training camp, but it’s not that easy. You saw that with Loui Eriksson as well, Loui is starting to find the rhythm of the offense and getting more and more comfortable. I think Jarome is getting more and more comfortable.”
Brickley also elaborated on the demotion of Marchand to the third line and the promotion of Reilly Smith to the second line. It’s been a rough start for Marchand, as he’s only recorded one goal on the season.
“If I had to break it down in terms of percentage, I’d lean a little heavily on the message to Brad Marchand  more so than trying to get Reilly Smith the better combination, because he was doing a nice job on that third unit,” Brickey said. “I think it’s more of a message to Brad Marchand . He’s a core guy, led them in scoring last year, and there wasn’t enough from him in terms of all three zones. They weren’t getting the type of play they needed from Brad Marchand. This guy was invited to Team Canada’s orientation [camp], he has an opportunity to be an Olympian, to represent Canada in the Olympics in Sochi.
“Obviously, his value around the league is very high, and he just wasn’t playing to the level that he needs to play, so I think that was more of a message directed towards him and it seemed to ignite him a little bit, played a little bit more edgy, was around the puck a lot more, and looked pretty comfortable, looked like he received the message. Let’s hope that that continues.”