|Tim Thomas and Dwayne Roloson stand the test of time||05.13.11 at 3:52 pm ET|
Goaltending is the one position on the ice where age and experience may mean the most.
Just ask Tim Thomas, Dwayne Roloson and their respective teams as they get ready for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at TD Garden.
Roloson leads all NHL playoff goalies with a 2.01 goals against in 11 games, posting an 8-3 record.
Thomas is right behind him at 2.03, with an identical 8-3 mark.
Thomas just turned 37 on April 15 while Roloson turns 42 this October.
“I think if age is a factor in any way, it’s actually a benefit to both of us,” Thomas said. “The experiences that we’ve been through just to get to these points in our career, they actually do help. They do help in these playoff-type atmosphere. If anything, I’d say that the age works to our advantage.
“But in this case we’re so close and we’re both in the higher age category for this business that I don’t think it’s really an advantage either way.”
“When it comes to goaltending, I think experience is a big factor,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You can have a good young goaltender, but if he doesn’t have experience of pressure in playoffs, you see what happens. Those guys are old enough, have enough experience, been through the grinds, the ups and downs, they’ve been able to handle it well.
“Certainly physically they got to battle. As a team you try to make it as easy as possible on those guys, clearing rebounds, not giving second shots, not giving poor-angle shots, try to make their job as easy as you can.”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher is well aware of how dominating Thomas was against Philadelphia and that he’s capable of repeating it again this round.
“Reality is whatever we have planned for Tim Thomas he’s probably going to figure it out,” Boucher said Friday. “It’s in our heads. Make no mistake.”
It should surprise no one that the two have formed a bond over the years. And even more to the point, their careers actually linked going all the way back to when Thomas was thinking of going to U-Mass Lowell, only to choose Vermont since Roloson was already the goalie in Lowell.
|Tim Thomas believes this Bruins team has the ‘stuff’ of champions||05.13.11 at 1:57 pm ET|
Not only do Claude Julien and the team have confidence in Tim Thomas, the Bruins goalie said Friday he believes this Bruins team has already proven in two playoff series wins they have what it take to hoist the Stanley Cup in June.
“I think it was a confidence that grew throughout the year,” Thomas said of the that won the Northeast Division and entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the East. “Till you get to the playoffs, you don’t really know that for sure what you have as a group. I think that the first round against Montreal was a testing ground for us. We started it out right way from some adversity, getting down in the series, 2-0. We started to find out what we were made of.
“Come to find out, we’re made of some pretty stern stuff. We have a lot of the things that it takes to win a championship, hopefully all of them.”
The 37-year-old Thomas will square off against 41-year-old goalie Dwayne Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in Game 1. Roloson and Thomas enter the Eastern Conference finals with identical 8-3 playoff marks this spring and nearly identical goals against averages.
|Claude Julien is really, really confident in Tim Thomas||05.13.11 at 1:30 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien has no doubt that his goaltender is capable of picking up where he left off when the Eastern Conference finals begin Saturday night at TD Garden. Thomas enters the series with a 2.03 goals against, just .02 behind Tampa Bay’s Dwayne Roloson for best among all goaltenders in these Stanley Cup playoffs.
“I think Timmy right now is in the zone, like he’s very, very focused,” Julien said following Friday’s practice at TD Garden. “He’s also calm. Watching him today in practice, he’s very confident and that’s what it’s all about when it comes to goaltending. When a guy is feeling good about his game and confident, he can do almost anything, and Tim is there right now.”
Thomas will face three of the eight top scorers in the playoffs in Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St. Louis and Steve Downie when the Lightning visit for Game 1 Saturday night. Tampa Bay arrived in Boston Friday for the start of the series, which continues next Tuesday with Game 2 at the Garden.
|Tyler Seguin is finally ready for his moment in the playoff spotlight||05.12.11 at 7:15 pm ET|
He was drafted by the Bruins No. 2 overall in last summer NHL entry draft. He was picked by the Bruins as the face of the franchise moving forward into the next decade.
With the latest concussion to Patrice Bergeron, that moment has arrived faster than anyone could have imagined – or hoped.
But we’re about to find out – ready or not – just what kind of special player 19-year-old Tyler Seguin can be for the Bruins.
“I’m trying to keep as sharp as I can both on and off the ice even though I’m not playing,” Seguin said. “You have to work out pretty hard when you’re not in the lineup and do a lot of hard skates and hard workouts so I feel great.
“It’s been a huge learning curve. My defensive zone has gotten a lot better I think. I also believe on a compete level, my battling skills have gotten better and still improving.”
Veteran Mark Recchi, 24 years older than Seguin, doesn’t think the rookie will be overwhelmed in his first playoff action on the Bruins’ third line with Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder, partly because he’s seen the fire of intense playoff hockey in his recent past.
“His competitive level was huge,” Recchi said. “In juniors, I think he was just so darn good that he could kind of get away with skill. He learned how to compete every night and he learned to be a pro. It was great to see he was willing to learn, he was willing to talk to guys, get better, want to get better and when you have that, you’re going to get better. If you think you’re too good, you’re not going to get better, but he improved tremendously over the course of the season in terms of how hard he competed and it was great to see. This is another level, and he’s ready for it. It will be fun.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Brad Marchand and the B’s are hungry men||05.12.11 at 2:01 pm ET|
Brad Marchand has shown all season that he is not shy, nor does he lack in confidence.
Both were on display on Thursday at TD Garden as the Bruins had their most intense practice yet as they prepare to shake off the cobwebs from a week off and get ready for Game 1 with the Lightning Saturday night at 8 p.m.
“I think the biggest thing is we’re just keeping the mindset on the game and I think having the excitement of the game coming up and having these days off, guys are going to be hungry to play again. I think that’s big for us right now,” Marchand said.
“Everyone is hungry to go. I don’t think think we’ve been away long enough to get out of the rhythm. We’ve still been practicing very hard. Guys are staying focused and staying ready. I think it’s all mental. We’re staying in good shape. We’re working hard, practicing hard but the biggest thing is when you’re off this long is you have to stay mentally ready, mentally focused and don’t get off track.”
The man most responsible for that approach – according to Marchand – is coach Claude Julien.
“Claude’s been unbelievable,” Marchand said. “He’s such a good mentor. He really knows how to bring players along and teach them the little aspects of the game that make you a good player. He’s great at knowing players and how to read them and how to teach them. He’s been such a great mentor for me this year. I don’t think I’d be the player I am right now if I didn’t have him as a coach.”
That’s why Marchand isn’t losing sleep over how a player like Tyler Seguin will approach Saturday night when he gets his first-ever taste of playoff action. Julien brought Marchand along perfectly, in a 20-20 season. He feels Seguin will have the same result from the same treatment.
“He’s rounded out my game,” Marchand said of Julien. “He brought me in slowly, gave me more minutes as the season went on and let me grow as a player. He guided me in the right direction with agitating and using my offensive skills at the right time and when to be defensive, playing on that [fine] line but not going over it. He’s been great at just rounding out my game.”
|Bruins prepare for Lightning strikes without Patrice Bergeron||05.12.11 at 1:35 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron was again absent from Bruins practice on Thursday as he continues to recover from a mild concussion suffered in the Game 4 series-clinching win last Friday against the Flyers.
“All I can say is he keeps progressing on a daily basis,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said after Bruins practice Thursday. “He hasn’t been on the ice or done any of that stuff yet so we’re keeping our fingers crossed that thing will be clear and more optimistic as we move forward.”
Bergeron, who has yet to take part in any physical on-ice or off-ice activity, sustained a concussion when Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux finished a check in the Bruins defensive zone early in third period. Bergeron had a difficult time get up from the ice and making his way to the bench. It was the third concussion he’s had in his career in Boston, the second since his most severe concussion when he was checked into the board’s by then-Flyers defenseman Randy Jones in Oct. 2007.
The Bruins are preparing to take on the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night at TD Garden in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals without Bergeron available, as Chris Kelly has taken Bergeron’s spot with Brad Marchand and Mark Recchi on the team’s second line.
|Bruins-Lightning open up Saturday night at TD Garden||05.10.11 at 1:20 pm ET|
Both teams will be well-rested since they swept their respective conference semifinal series. The Bruins beat the Flyers in four straight, concluding their sweep last Friday night. They will have had seven days off before playing Saturday. The Lightning will be playing on even more rest, eliminating the Capitals on May 4 in four straight, a span of nine days between games.
Game 2 will also be in Boston Tuesday night at 8 p.m. before the series shifts to St. Petersburg for Games 3 and 4. The Lightning host the Bruins Thursday, May 19 at 8:00 p.m. ET and Saturday, May 21 at 1:30 p.m. ET at the St. Pete Times Forum.
If necessary, Game 5 is set for Monday, May 23 at 8:00 p.m. ET in Boston, while Game 6 will be back in Tampa Bay on Wednesday, May 25 at 8:00 p.m. ET, and Game 7 will be played in Boston on Friday, May 27 at 8:00 p.m. ET. The Bruins have also released a limited number of tickets for Games 1, 2 and 5.
Tickets are available for purchase at the TD Garden Box Office, on www.bostonbruins.com or via phone by calling Ticketmaster at 800-745-3000. The Bruins say a limited number of tickets will likely be released from various NHL and team holds between now and the start of each game.