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Julien leaning toward playing Kobasew 11.07.08 at 1:58 pm ET
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Chuck is feeling footloose and injury free...

Chuck is feeling footloose and injury free...

Bruins head coach Claude Julien indicated after Friday morning’s practice that he’s “leaning toward” inserting winger Chuck Kobasew back into the Black and Gold’s lineup on Saturday. The B’s are set to host the Buffalo Sabres Saturday night and will be looking to capture their third straight victory on home ice this season.

 

 

 

“I’ll obviously make my final decision tomorrow, but I can tell you that much,” said Julien, who had previously said he wouldn’t return Kobasew to the fray until he felt like he could be a “difference-maker”. 

Kobasew has been skating with the team for the better part of two weeks, and said he’s passed every medical clearance hurdle before deeming himself ready to return to the ice. The former Boston College forward scored 22 goals and 17 assists in 73 games for the B’s last season and had formed with David Krejci and Blake Wheeler to create an extremely effective line during the preseason finale and opening night against the Colorado Avalanche.

“We’ve given the fourth line a lot of credit for being the type of line that they are and giving us the energy that we need – but David Krejci’s line, whoever he played with,” said Julien. “[Blake] Wheeler and [Chuck] Kobasew that first game and even the last exhibition game…that line was dominant.”

Kobasew said he was “anxious” to get back on the ice and that he’d passed every hurdle in testing the full health of his right ankle. The additional practice he’s received this week has also allowed the the 6-foot, 193-pound mixture of skill and scrap to lock in his timing on the ice, and attempt to make a seamless transition back from the injured reserve list.

“I feel fine now and the last couple of days have been good,” said Kobasew. “They gave me a little extra time to practice with the guys and I’m feeling good. I’ve been skating for almost two weeks now. Now I’m just anxious to get out there and play.

“We’ll see what they want to do and go from there,” added Kobasew. “You want to play no matter what…even in the first couple of days after I got hurt. Now it’s nice to be out there skating with the guys and getting back into it. I’m looking forward to playing.”

It’s doubtful that Blake Wheeler — hot off the heels of a hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs — will be removed from the top four lines, which would leave Petteri Nokelainen as the most logical player to be a healthy scratch if/when Kobasew makes his return Saturday night. It’s possible that a late injury could remove somebody else from the mix, but Julien said in some ways it’s a pleasant dilemma in making such difficult roster decisions.

“It’s a tough decision, but it’s a great position to be in,” said Julien. “I don’t like making those decisions because it’s not a lot of fun, but it’s a lot better than putting guys in that don’t necessarily deserve to be in the lineup. I’d rather be in this position than the other one.”

–Julien gave B’s center Patrice Bergeron the day off on Friday — an admission by the coach that his young center has been pushing hard since the first day of training camp in his recovery from last season’s nasty concussion. No injury or problems, just a simple day away from the frozen office.

–Good story by Puck Daddy at Yahoo! about success stories and failed attempts by athletes to change their uniform numbers a la Blake Wheeler last night.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Chuck Kobasew
Kessel, Wheeler presiding over military makeover 11.07.08 at 11:07 am ET
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On Friday, November 7 from 3:00-5:00 p.m. Boston Bruins forwards Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler are joining four US Servicemen for a “Military Makeover” at Barbershop Lounge on Newbury Street in Boston.  

Army Reserve Specialist Matthew Maguire – one of the servicemen attending – is getting married on Saturday, November 8 and the afternoon at Barbershop Lounge will help him prepare for his big day.  Joining Maguire, Kessel and Wheeler will be three fellow soldiers – Private First Class Adam Stebbins, Senior Airman Douglas Freeman, and Sergeant Harold Cooper.

On Saturday, November 8 members of Maguire’s platoon will attend his wedding and then head to the TD Banknorth Garden for Military Appreciation Night where they, and over 1,000 members of local military
families, will be honored during the Bruins/ Sabres game at 7:00 p.m. at the TD Banknorth Garden.

The Bruins are hosting local military families through their “Seats for Soldiers” program: an initiative where fans purchase tickets that are donated to military members and their families.  Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward purchased $15,000 worth of tickets for the program this year, giving 300 servicemen and women and their families the opportunity to watch Saturday’s game.

Maguire, 28-years old from Boston, is set to deploy for Iraq in the coming weeks with the rest of his platoon.

Bruins fans can continue to donate to the Seats for Soldiers program by calling 617-624-1805, emailing smscott@bostonbruins.com or by going to BostonBruins.com. Fans can honor our local military families by donating tickets priced at $25.00 or $70.00. An additional donation will be made to the USO (United Service Organizations) for every $70 ticket donation.

The soldiers and their families will be honored throughout the game with photomontages on Garden HDX, Zamboni rides, and video messages, while a select few will have the chance to shake hands with the team as they leave the locker room during intermissions.

WHO: Boston Bruins Phil Kessel and Blake Wheeler
          Specialist Matthew Maguire
          Private First Class, Adam Stebbins
          Senior Airman Douglas Freeman
          Sergeant Harold Cooper

WHAT: Receive treatments including haircut, shave and a shoeshine,
playing pool and watching television.

WHEN: Friday, November 7, from 3 p.m. – 5 p.m.

WHERE: Barbershop Lounge, 245 Newbury Street
             Boston, MA 02116

Barbershop Lounge, Boston’s upscale men’s grooming lounge complete with plasma televisions and a pool table, is reminiscent of a private gentleman’s club catering exclusively to fine men’s grooming.

Three Wheels equal a hat trick 11.06.08 at 9:24 pm ET
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A Steel Cage match with the Looch for #17 perhaps? Then again...maybe not.

A Steel Cage match with the Looch for #17 perhaps? Then again...maybe not.

The Bruins made it five wins in their last six games with a 5-2 win over the NHL’s version of the Red Sox — the Toronto Maple Leafs – last night at the TD Banknorth Garden.

The hats were once again cascading down onto the ice for the second time in three home games for the Bruins as 6-foot-4 rookie winger Blake Wheeler poured in three different types of scores [a tip-in, a nice one-on-one move to deke out the goalie in the slot and a good old-fashioned empty netter to ice things] for his first professional hat trick — including an empty net gift from blueliner Andrew Ference with 53 seconds left to go in the game.

It’s been a big week for Wheeler as Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli pulled the rookie aside on the plane home from Western Canada and told the strapping youngster a pair of pretty encouraging things: A) start looking for some permanent housing in Boston after setting up shop in a Boston hotel for the first six weeks of the season and B) the time had come for Wheeler to change sweaters from the number 42 he had been assigned in training camp to a more desired Black and Gold sweater with the number 26 on the back. Those were a couple of encouraging signs from Bruins management that the kid belongs in the Show, and the 22-year-old may just be in Boston for good.

“I always kind of knew all along that I wanted to change numbers, and I remember a lot of good guys at Minnesota wore #26 like Thomas Vanek when he played there. And [Phil Kessel] too, but that’s not why I switched it. It’s just always been a cool number,” said Wheeler, who said he briefly considered 27 and had been #17 for his entire life but wisely didn’t attempt to battle with the Looch for his jersey number. “I guess it’s whatever perspective you take on it. I think all along I’ve just wanted to be a part of this team and just a part of this locker room because they are so many great players in here and it’s such a great organization. I take a lot pride going into the room over there and adding two points to our team totals more than anything else. We’re working towards something a lot bigger than anyone’s personal stats and obviously it’s great to contribute but there are a lot of other ways to contribute other than just putting up points. I just try to come into every game and do what it takes to help the team win. If that means scoring, then that’s great, but there’s a lot of other ways to contribute.

“I think the guys really wanted to try and get me that third [goal], though,” added Wheeler.  “You get that feeling, we were out there for quite a bit of time and you could hear [Shawn] Thornton from the bench screaming ‘stay out there.”

The big right winger now leads all NHL rookies with the six goals on the season and makes Chiarelli and Co. look extremely prescient for winning the battle to secure his free agent rights after he finished up his junior year with the Minnesota Golden Gophers. Following that third college hockey season Wheeler came looking for a pro job, and nobody could have guessed he would have fit in this seamlessly. It also begs the question of what in the wide, wide world of sports the Phoenix Coyotes were thinking in letting the high first round draft pick skate away scot-free without signing him before the CBA-imposed deadline.

Perhaps that’s why the Bruins are becoming a player development machine for up-and-coming hockey players while competing in the competitive Northeast Division and the ole Phoenix Prarie Dogs are chilling in the basemen of the Pacific Divsion out west.

“Anything can happen. You could change your number and then stink it up for two weeks straight and get sent down [to Providence],” said Wheeler when asked if the uniform change meant he was a permanent member of the team this season. “It’s great to have that sense, but you can’t get too comfortable. There’s always somebody that could take your spot just as easily as you got it.”

Who doesn't love a cannolli?

Who doesn't love a cannolli?

After getting the word from the B’s to start looking for a permanent residence, Wheeler settled on a dwelling in the North End and is actually across the street from a unit shared by the Odd Couple of Milan Lucic and Mark Stuart, so he was looking forward to his first introduction to cannollis at Mike’s Pastry on Hanover Street.

“He’s the Real Deal and I’ve said that all along,” said Julien. “That’s why we kept him [after training camp].”

No word on whether Julien thinks that the chocolate chip cannollis from Mike’s are also the “Read Deal.”

–The Bruins “Peach Fuzz” power play, as inimitable NESN play-by-play guy Jack Edwards likes to call it, continues to rack up power play strikes and add to a growing competition between the two man advantage units. Bruins coach Claude Julien interchanged Milan Lucic and Wheeler on the second unit along with Dennis Wideman, Andrew Ference, David Krejci and Phil Kessel, and the PP squad piled up two more goals within the first eight minutes of the game. One with Looch screening in front of the net and another with Wheeler redirecting a Wideman feed.

The first was a Wideman bomb from the left point that was aided by Krejci and Lucic both criss-crossing in front of the net and screening Toronto netminder Vesa Toskala. The second was a Wheeler tip of another Wideman shot from the point. In all the Peach Fuzz Unit — a moniker given to the quintet because of the young ages of many of its talented members — has accounted for an impressive 8 of Boston’s 11 total power play strikes on the season.

Wideman has clearly put the power in power play...

Wideman has clearly put the power in power play...

“It’s great. I think our power play units are very different,” said Ference. “Obviously we have the young guys that are very active and it’s no secret that Savvy is the quarterback of the other one. Even within our own power play we have a couple of different looks that we’re comfortable with.

“Both units take a lot of pride being out on the ice,” added Ference. “We have young guys that are experiencing a huge increase in power play time as compared to last year. If you look at last year’s power play, the first unit would get the lions’ share of the time and this year it’s a lot more even. It’s a healthy competition for your own pride and the opportunity to stay out there.”

Ference credits Wideman’s offensive abilities at the point as being a key component to really making the second unit thrive — and it’s pretty self-evident during an evening when the gifted Widemanis right in the thick of both power play tallies.

“Dennis and I are comfortable on either side of the ice and we definitely keep the defense on their toes,” added Ference, who was also quick to add that Wideman is $100 richer after his first period goal resulted in the 100th assist of Ference’sNHL career. “It’s definitely nice to play with an offensive defenseman– not in the sense that he’s always up in the play but offensive in the sense that he sees lanes really well and he sees passing and shooting lanes extremely well. It’s hard to explain but it’s nice to be back there with him.”

–During five-on-five play, the line of Marco Sturm/David Krejci/Blake Wheeler acted as a dominant force all evening long, with Wheeler netting the three goal collection — an accomplishment that saw him entertain a horde of curious journalists postgame and also pose for a great scrapbook-style picture with team photog Steve Babineau. The photo featured a smiling Wheeler holding the three pucks from the game inside the Bruins’ dressing room — the kind of image that the player will hold on to for a lifetime. Both Sturm and Krejci likewise finished with a pair of assists each and a +1 rating for the night.

It would seem to the casual observer that just about anybody skating on a line with the puck magician known as the Great Krejci is watching their offensive game get elevated to another level this season. The kid from the Czech Republic is simply special with the puck on his stick and he’s perhaps the best slump buster for a scorer in need of an offensive transfusion.

“David Krejci’sline has been pretty good since Day One withwhoever he’s been with,” said Julien. “I think Marco Sturm found his game again playing on that line and Blake Wheeler has also had success on that line. Players have had success no matter who we put in there.” 

–There were some defensive breakdowns in the third period that accounted for both of Toronto’s scores, but Tim Thomas offered that the first two periods were some of the best and most cohesive defensive play of the season thus far. The Black and Gold were playing Julien’s box-and-one style to perfection and forcing the Maple Leafs into rifling all manner of perimeter shoots — a strategy that cleared a good deal of traffic away from the net and bestowed Thomas with a clean look at the puck as the shots sped toward the net.

“I thought we did a pretty good job of keeping them to the outside and limiting their scoring chances,” said Julien.

Add that to a big kill on a 5-on-3 two man advantage for the Leafs in the third period when it was still a 3-1 hockey game, and Thomas was very complimentary to his team defense after another All-Star worthy 34 save effort. 

“The number of quality scoring chances for at least the first two periods had to be less than five,” said Thomas. “By the end of the second period we had played two of the most solid periods of defense that we’ve played all year. Five-on-five Toronto was like a -2 and I think we were like a +10, so if we could keep the game five-on-five then on paper we felt like we had the advantage.”

Looking for a few good votes 11.06.08 at 12:31 pm ET
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Uncle Timmy is looking for your vote

Uncle Timmy is looking for your vote

The Official Bruins fan write-in campaign to send Tim Thomas to the NHL All-Star game has quickly kicked over at hubhockey.com — where they’ve taken a rather Patriotic view of Thomas’ run to make the All-Star festivities in Montreal during late January.

Big props to the Bruins blog site HubHockey.com for creating a little PhotoShop magic when they combined a poster of Good Old Reliable Uncle Sam with the B’s netminder. The actual voting doesn’t begin until Nov. 12 — and yes, there is a write-in campaign component for wronged puck players like Thomas — and fans can go to www.Vote.NHL.com to let their voices be heard.

No word on whether Tim the Goalie Man is going to start growing a white billy goat/Billy Koch beard to match with the poster. 

–Dallas coach Dave Tippett “addressed some things”with Sean Avery and Steve Ott in light of turning last Saturday night’s game against the Bruins at the TD Banknorth Garden into their own personal Romper Room. The Mike Modano comments about his team being “idiotic and stupid” are being downplayed by the coach, but for a team that I picked to win the Stanley Cup this year the Stars are making me look really, really bad.

–The Joy of playing in New York. If you’re a fan of the NHL then the Puck Daddy blog  at yahoo.com should be required reading – in addition to something I like to call Pucks with Haggs. The Daddy goes on a New York Rangers/media rant that sounds more than a little like something that could just as easily be scrawled on these pages as well. Here’s a good one that’s just as relevant in Boston as it is in the Big Apple: “2. When combined with the amplifier of sports talk radio, they can literally run an athlete or coach out of town if they all get behind the campaign. Or, at the very least, make even the most dedicated athlete look like a greedy bum. ”

Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?

–Even-strength scoring is up 6 percent from what it was last season and a whopping 22 percent from the the final 2003-2004 season of hockey prior to the NHL lockout. Interesting story in USA Today about how the European influence — among other things — has opened up the game along with the change in rules following the lockout.

“I think puck movement…is at an all-time high,” said Anaheim GM Brian Burke in the story. “I think the European influence has really made a difference.”

Scoring is up, fighting is up…looks like the pieces are in place for the NHL to make a real comeback, doesn’t it?

Hockey Notes: Home is where the ‘B’ is 11.06.08 at 4:27 am ET
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By the Power of the Stanley Cup, I have the power!

By the Power of the Stanley Cup, I have the power!

It might seem strange to say after only 12 games of the season have passed, but the worst of the NHL season just might be over for the Boston Bruins.

The B’s have already treked out West (Colorado, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton) twice in the first dozen hockey games, and they won’t be heading any farther west than Chicago again this season. Amazingly, the Black and Gold will travel just one time zone over only four times (Columbus, Nashville, St. Louis and Chicago) over the course of their remaining 70 games — and the Chicago tilt will be marked off their list after the next road trip.

Much of the remaining schedule consists of hockey games all along the Atlantic Coast complete with abbreviated plane rides and much less wear and tear on a group of hockey bodies that could use some R and R after being in a constant state of flux throughout the first six weeks of the hockey season.

“I think the key there is crossing the time zones, and that’s the most challenging part for teams is to have to adjust that and I think we’ve gone through the worst part of it,” said Bruins Claude Julien. “Now it becomes a matter of working withthe rest of the schedule and stretching our bench out to deal with the consecutive games that we have.

“We’ve been better this year in back-to-back games in a short time period and I think we’ve handled them better,” added Julien. “The schedule gets bombarded with some consecutive games, and stretching out your bench and having guys that are able to do that is going to help out in the long run.”

The Bruins have 9 of 13 games on their home ice at the TD BanknorthGarden during the monthof November, and seven of those baker’s dozen worth of hockey games will be against Northeast Divsion opponents that could go a long way toward cementing Boston’s playoff pole position in the Eastern Conference.

The biggest scheduling challenge still facing Boston: a series of 13 back-to-back games that Julien referenced and will test both the depth and resiliency of a hockey club hungry to move up the ladder in the Eastern Conference. So, what did the travel-heavy portion of the schedule right out of the gate signify to the players, and what does it mean to be at home now?

“The first thing I thought when I saw our schedule back in July is that somebody in the National Hockey League doesn’t like us,” joked Bruins defenseman Aaron Ward. “Seriously, you can take it two different ways: you can think that it’s going to be a challenge and build it up to be something that it’s not going to be, or you can take it as an opportunity to really come together and find out what your identity is going to be.

“You get plenty of opportunities on the road to be together,” added Ward. “It was good for us. Now we have to change our mentality and find our home presence. Saturday night’s game [against the Stars] was a good catalyst for that. I wouldn’t say that we’re playing at our maximum ability, and we have room to grow both systematically and individually. That’s a good thing.”

The Hockey Code

Interesting story in Forbes Magazine on fighting in the NHL with the Bruins’ own Shawn Thornton ranking as the third best valuefor the money in the Hockey Fight Club. Many players and keen hockey observers rightly gave a lot of credit to Thornton following the Stars/Bruins slugfest the other night, as the tough-as-nails, scrap-iron Thornton gives the rest of his teammates a certain degree more toughness and fearlessness merely by his presence in the lineup. That element was missing last season when Thornton went down for a time with a broken foot, and it’s been noticeable throughout this season.

I think your finger paintings suck!

I think your finger paintings suck!

Thornton has been part of a fourth line (along with Petteri Nokelainen and Stephane Yelle) that’s given the B’s a great deal of jump and grit through the season’s first 12 games, and the 6-foot-2, 209-pounder has surprised with his ability to sprinkle opportunistic offense in with his fist-first tendencies.

It was interesting to hear Thornton’s thoughts when asked, in light of the Sean Avery/Steve Ott three-ring circus last weekend, if the “Hockey Code” still exists. Here’s what Thornton had to say:

“It depends…not everybody is playing like that I suppose, but it definitely has been going the way [of martial law on the ice],” said Thornton. “I’m a big believer in policing the game ourselves and I’ve been doing it a long time. We always policed things out on the ice in the minors and it worked out well.”

What in particular gets the blood boiling for a guy doing the “enforcer” job in this day of age of the NHL?

“I think I have a little different belief with the head checks than the other guys,” said Thornton. “Some of the ones that have happened recently, if a guy is open then you finish him off. If I’m in that situation and somebody gets a chance to finish me then I’m expecting them to. Now if the elbow lifts up and goes into the head that’s a different story, but if it’s body–on-body? That’s a clean hit.

“The hits from behind, the knees, the elbows…I don’t think there’s any place for that in the game and I think it’s up to the players to take it upon themselves to not do it,” added Thornton. “I’m all for playing hard and I respect guys that play hard, but guys that try to take liberties on other people…well then they should be ready for one of us to come police it ourselves.”

The ghost of Glen Murray

It was clear watching Glen Murray last season that age and foot injuries had conspired to wipe away the winger’s ability to keep up in today’s NHL, and he simply wasn’t able to get himself into the spots needed to release his still-booming shot. Not surprisingly, Murray didn’t find anyone interested in his services once the Bruins cleared him off the decks this summer, and now “Muzz” is reportedly looking to recover the full amount from the Black and Gold’s buyout package.

Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli knew of one single letter  filed by Murray’s representation claiming that his client had a pre-existing ankle injury at the time of Boston’s buyout — a no-no according to the CBA rules for buyouts of NHL contracts –and that the forward was having surgery on the ankle this year.

Murray was set to make $4.1 million this season, and the B’s shaved $1.38 million off that figure by executing a buyout before the season started. The Bruins currently still have Murray’s $1.38 million cap hit on their salary cap for the next two seasons, however, and Chiarelli said it was unclear what the cap ramifications would be if Murray’s appeal was upheld.

Unsung Hockey Heroes

Great column by Michael Farber on SI.com about the “Stealth MVPs” in the NHL thus far this season, and Melrose’s own TIm Burke, the Director of Scouting for the San Jose Sharks, notched the No. 2 spot behind Blackhawks forward Tim Burke.

No Bruins were mentioned in the story, so my own suggestion for B’s Stealth MVP: Andrew Ference. He’s been a tone-setter with physical play when it’s been needed and he leads all defensemen in assists (five) and +/- (7) while logging the third most ice-time (22:30) on the team this season. 

Here’s what Farber had to say about the hard-working and talented Burke, who has been a huge part of the never-ending supply of young puck talent that courses through the Sharks organization and deserved any acclaim that comes his way:

Burke is every bit as perspicacious as the more celebrated David Conte, who pulls rabbits out of the hat for the New Jersey Devils. Burke continually unearths talent whether the Sharks are drafting high – Patrick Marleau, No. 2 in 1997 –or low — goalie Evgeni Nabokov, 219th in 1994. (Burke was in Russia to scout another player, saw an ad for the goalie, and drafted Nabokov in the ninth round, sight unseen.)

In 2001, the Sharks actually ran the table: all six players they drafted – Marcel Goc, Christian Ehrhoff,Dimitri Patzold, Tomas Plihal, Ryane Clowe and Tom Cavanagh – have played in the NHL. In 2005, general manager Doug Wilson raised some eyebrows when he traded up from the 12th pick to the 8th in order to draft Devin Setoguchi, a Burke recommendation who has blossomed into a top-line winger with Marleau and Joe Thornton this season. If you were going to start a franchise, Burke would be among the first people you would hire.

 

Thomas reacts to All-Star snub 11.05.08 at 10:21 am ET
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Me against the NHL...sounds good!

Me against the NHL...sounds good!

One day after learning that he was again left off the NHL All-Star ballot, Tim Thomas was ready to face the questions concerning his reaction and the intrepid goalie’s response was both predictable and classy. The 34-year-old netminder is leading the league in save percentage and sits second in the NHL in goals against and many members of Bruins Nation were appropriately perturbed when he didn’t make the cut — particularly after appearing in and winning last year’s NHL Mid-Winter Classic.

So what did Thomas think of again not making the cut among the Eastern Conference’s best 10 goaltenders?

“I know that everybody wants to know [my reaction],” said Thomas. “But I can only control what I can control and do the best I can to help this team out. Other than that, I’m not going to comment.”

Does the well-traveled netminder use this kind of NHL snub as motivation — just as the many doubting Thomases’ (no pun intended) continually cast pessimism on his ability to make it at the highest level of hockey as an unorthodox goaltender getting by more on enthusiasm, athleticism and sheer force of will than practiced technique?

“Yeah, it always has throughout my career. I think I’ve been underestimated quite a few times and I think it just feeds the fire to keep getting better, you know. You don’t want to totally look at it as always proving people wrong, but that seems to be what it boils down to.”

B’s coach Claude Julien understandably didn’t want to get tossed into a controversy about an individual honor (in this case a berth on the NHL All-Star ballot) when all concentration should be on the team and Thursday night’s rematch with Nik Antropov Mike Van Ryn and the rest of the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Thomas not on the ballot? Are you kidding me?

Thomas not on the ballot? Are you kidding me?

“I don’t know what to say about that. He’s played well and I don’t know how it’s chosen or anything. It’s unfortunate for him because every time he keeps battling, but you know that’s Timmy’s story,” said Julien. “He’s a battler. He’s in there every year and he does his job. That’s just the way it goes. There are bigger things for Timmy to worry about, and that’s continuing to help his team win.

“That should certainly, hopefully open some eyes. Who knows? Last year, even though he was there because of an injury, he was still there and I guess as a team we felt he deserved to be there. And that’s the important thing. It’s not so much the perception from the outside as much as its about what your team and your teammates think of you.”

Thomas left off All-Star ballot 11.04.08 at 2:20 pm ET
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Seriously...what do I have to do to get on the ballot?

Seriously...what do I have to do to get on the ballot?

Tim Thomas clearly is the Rodney Dangerfield of NHL goalies.

NHL Eastern Conference All-Star last year? Check.

Leading the entire NHL with a .944 save percentage? Check. 

Second in the NHL behind the excellent Ryan Miller with a 1.82 goals against average thus far this season? Check. 

Thomas had a breakout season last year where he actually picked up the win during the NHL All-Star game and helped lead an overachieving Bruins team to a Stanley Cup playoff berth, but that didn’t seem to be enough to qualify Thomas as one of the 10 Eastern Conference goaltenders good enough for the All-Star ballot. It seems that there isn’t anything the athletic, do-or-die Thomas can do to rise any higher than the already admittedly-excellent inspirational story of a  journeyman turned regular netminder in the NHL.

Thomas won 28 games, finished fourth in the NHL with a .921 save percentage last season and piled up three shutouts while firmly establishing himself between the Black and Gold’s pipes, but that’s obviously done nothing for his rep around the loathe-to-change NHL.

“”He’s certainly found his groove. He’s been extremely good for us, especially in the last week. So we’ve been riding him,” said Claude Julien of Thomas before learning about the NHL All-Star Ballot snub. “We’ve said from Day 1 that if somebody was going to start playing extremely well, we would take advantage of it. We also have Manny, who I thought has played well also. But Timmy’s caught fire.

“We think he played extremely well that last week where he’s given us some opportunities to win some pretty important games. That’s Tim battling as usual,” added Julien.

Here’s the full release from the NHL:

The NHL released the 104-player ballot for XM/NHL All-Star
Fan Balloting presented by 2K Sports today, with Patrice Bergeron, Zdeno
Chara and Marc Savard representing the Bruins. Voting opens Nov. 12.

Bergeron has posted 3-5=8 totals, a +5 rating and has won 58.7 percent
of his faceoffs (eighth in the league) in the Bruins 12 games this
season, while Savard has recorded five goals, 10 assists and a +6
rating.  Savard’s 15 points rank tied for third in the NHL as of
Tuesday, November 4.  A Norris Trophy finalist last year, Chara has
three assists on the season while averaging a team high 26:41 of ice
time per game.

Chara, Savard, and goaltender Tim Thomas appeared in last year’s
all-star festivities.  Thomas was the winning goaltender in the All Star
game, Savard tallied the winning goal and Chara won the Hardest Shot
competition with a 103.1 MPH blast during the SuperSkills event.

In a first for all major professional sports leagues, the NHL will
provide real-time All-Star fan balloting results online at NHL.com. From
Nov. 12 through Jan. 2, NHL fans will be able to vote as often as they
like to select the starting lineups for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in
Montreal. Fans around the world can vote online via interactive English
and French ballots at Vote.NHL.com. Those in the U.S. and Canada also
will be able to cast their votes via text message using any wireless
carrier. During the voting period, real-time results will be available
exclusively on Vote.NHL.com/results. This marks the third consecutive
year the All-Star Balloting process is entirely digital.

Fans can vote for up to six Eastern Conference players and six Western
Conference players: three forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender.
For the first time, fans will be permitted to select as few as one
player — a balloted player or write-in — per online ballot at
Vote.NHL.com or via text message. The three forwards, two defensemen and
one goaltender from each Conference receiving the most votes will
comprise the starting lineups. Each of the 30 NHL clubs has at least two
representatives on the ballot.

The NHL will promote XM NHL All-Star Fan Balloting presented by 2K
Sports across its TV, print, online and wireless advertising platforms.
Promotional support will be provided by the NHL Network, NHL Radio and
broadcast partners VERSUS (U.S.), CBC (Canada) and RDS (Canada).
Promotional materials for the campaign, in both English and French, will
launch on Wednesday, Nov. 12, the first day of balloting.

The 2009 NHL All-Star Weekend in Montreal will celebrate the Montreal
Canadiens’ Centennial season with live national broadcasts of the
Honda/NHL SuperSkills event on Saturday, Jan. 24 and the NHL All-Star
Game on Sunday, Jan. 25, on VERSUS in the United States and CBC and RDS
in Canada.

The Bruins return to action on Thursday, November 6 when they host the
Toronto Maple Leafs at 7:00 p.m. ET.

2008-09 XM / NHL All-Star Fan Ballot

EASTERN CONFERENCE
Goaltenders
Martin Biron, Philadelphia Flyers, Martin Brodeur, New Jersey Devils,
Rick DiPietro, New York Islanders, Marc-Andre Fleury, Pittsburgh
Penguins, Kari Lehtonen, Atlanta Thrashers, Henrik Lundqvist, New York
Rangers, Ryan Miller, Buffalo Sabres, Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens,
Vesa Toskala, Toronto Maple Leafs, Tomas Vokoun, Florida Panthers

Defensemen
Jay Bouwmeester, Florida Panthers, Zdeno Chara, Boston Bruins, Sergei
Gonchar, Pittsburgh Penguins, Mike Green, Washington Capitals, Tomas
Kaberle, Toronto Maple Leafs, Mike Komisarek, Montreal Canadiens, Andrei
Markov, Montreal Canadiens, Teppo Numminen, Buffalo Sabres, Chris
Phillips, Ottawa Senators, Wade Redden, New York Rangers, Kimmo Timonen,
Philadelphia Flyers, Ryan Whitney, Pittsburgh Penguins

Forwards
Daniel Alfredsson, Ottawa Senators, Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins,
Daniel Briere, Philadelphia Flyers, Rod Brind’Amour, Carolina
Hurricanes, Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins, Chris Drury, New York
Rangers, Patrik Elias, New Jersey Devils, Simon Gagne, Philadelphia
Flyers, Scott Gomez, New York Rangers, Dany Heatley, Ottawa Senators,
Trent Hunter, New York Islanders, Saku Koivu, Montreal Canadiens, Ilya
Kovalchuk, Atlanta Thrashers, Alex Kovalev, Montreal Canadiens, Vincent
Lecavalier, Tampa Bay Lightning, Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins,
Markus Naslund, New York Rangers, Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals
Zach Parise, New Jersey Devils, Mike Richards, Philadelphia Flyers,
Brian Rolston, New Jersey Devils, Derek Roy, Buffalo Sabres, Martin St.
Louis, Tampa Bay Lightning, Marc Savard, Boston Bruins, Alexander Semin,
Washington Capitals, Jason Spezza, Ottawa Senators, Eric Staal, Carolina
Hurricanes, Alex Tanguay, Montreal Canadiens, Thomas Vanek, Buffalo
Sabres, Ray Whitney, Carolina Hurricanes

WESTERN CONFERENCE
Goaltenders
Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild, Ilya Bryzgalov, Phoenix Coyotes, J.S.
Giguere, Anaheim Ducks, Miikka Kiprusoff, Calgary Flames, Pascal
Leclaire, Columbus Blue Jackets, Roberto Luongo, Vancouver Canucks,
Evgeni Nabokov, San Jose Sharks, Chris Osgood, Detroit Red Wings, Marty
Turco, Dallas Stars

Defensemen
Rob Blake, San Jose Sharks, Dan Boyle, San Jose Sharks, Brent Burns,
Minnesota Wild, Brian Campbell, Chicago Blackhawks, Nicklas Lidstrom,
Detroit Red Wings, Scott Niedermayer, Anaheim Ducks, Dion Phaneuf,
Calgary Flames, Chris Pronger, Anaheim Ducks, Brian Rafalski, Detroit
Red Wings, Robyn Regehr, Calgary Flames, Sheldon Souray, Edmonton
Oilers, Shea Weber, Nashville Predators

Forwards
Jason Arnott, Nashville Predators, Brad Boyes, St. Louis Blues, Dustin
Brown, Los Angeles Kings, Pavel Datsyuk, Detroit Red Wings, Shane Doan,
Phoenix Coyotes, Marian Gaborik, Minnesota Wild, Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim
Ducks, Milan Hejduk, Colorado Avalanche, Ales Hemsky, Edmonton Oilers,
Shawn Horcoff, Edmonton Oilers, Marian Hossa, Detroit Red Wings, Jarome
Iginla, Calgary Flames, Olli Jokinen, Phoenix Coyotes, Patrick Kane,
Chicago Blackhawks, Paul Kariya, St. Louis Blues, Mikko Koivu, Minnesota
Wild, Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings, Patrick Marleau, San Jose Sharks,
Mike Modano, Dallas Stars, Brenden Morrow, Dallas Stars, Rick Nash,
Columbus Blue Jackets, Mike Ribeiro, Dallas Stars, Brad Richards, Dallas
Stars, Joe Sakic, Colorado Avalanche, Daniel Sedin, Vancouver Canucks,
Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks, Paul Stastny, Colorado Avalanche, Joe
Thornton, San Jose Sharks, Keith Tkachuk, St. Louis Blues, Jonathan
Toews, Chicago Blackhawks, Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

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