|Andy Brickley on M&M: Tim Thomas ‘looks healthy and ready to go’||10.17.13 at 3:51 pm ET|
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.”
|Kris Versteeg reflects on brief Bruins career||10.17.13 at 2:23 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — The Bruins are in Florida to face the Panthers, which means they’ll be seeing a familiar face. Kris Versteeg sure must be nervous.
No, Versteeg is no Tim Thomas when it comes to Boston sports status, but Thursday’s matchup will mark another meeting for the forward against the team that drafted him — and dealt him away in one of just a few bad trades by Peter Chiarelli.
A 2004 draft pick of the Bruins, Versteeg played two seasons in Providence before being traded to the Blackhawks in 2007 for Brandon Bochenski. Versteeg went on to win the Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks and put up two 20-goal seasons for Chicago (plus one for the Panthers), while the Bruins would discard Bochenski a year later.
“It’s the team that drafted me. Me and David Krejci, we were friends and we had some good times together in Providence,” Versteeg said Thursday. “I have great memories of that organization.”
Indeed, Krejci and Versteeg did get along well. As Versteeg recalls, he wasn’t feeling too great about his game after his WHL career, but he said Thursday that playing with Krejci gave him confidence that he needed to be an NHL player. His 22 goals in 43 games for Providence in the season he was traded tied his highest junior goal total with the Lethbridge Hurricanes.
“I had a bit of a rough road there in junior,” Versteeg said, “then I came into Providence, and playing with Krej — the way me and him found chemistry together and played together, and the points we put up together, it really helped myself realize that I could play this game and I could play at the top level with top guys.”
Krejci said that Versteeg also taught him some things at the AHL level, so their time together was mutually beneficial. You wouldn’t know that from watching them play against one another though, as the two admitted they like to get extra chippy when their teams meet.
“It’s fun,” Krejci said. “I love him, I hate him. It’s a little bit of both.”
The two players have obviously seen their careers take different paths. Krejci has remained a Bruin for his entire career to this point, while Versteeg has been traded a whopping four times. Though they’ve been apart for a number of years at this point, Versteeg said he isn’t shocked to see Krejci become the player that he is.
“For him to do what he’s doing now isn’t a big surprise,” Versteeg said. “I knew he’d be a great player. It was about the chance he was going to get. He got it and he’s definitely taking advantage of his opportunity.”
|Panthers promise to show Red Sox vs. Tigers as Tim Thomas faces Bruins||10.17.13 at 1:17 pm ET|