|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.
|David Krejci on ‘best player in the world’ Pavel Datsyuk: ‘I’m in the third round, and he’s done’||05.13.11 at 1:59 pm ET|
David Krejci deserves high praise for the way he has played of late, as he led the Bruins with eight points in the team’s four-game sweep of the Flyers in the second round. Still, the VS. coverage team for Thursday’s Game 7 between the Red Wings and Sharks may have gotten a little carried away when Pierre McGuire said that Krejci is “Boston’s version of Pavel Datsyuk.”
The differences between the two players can be seen on the stat sheet, of course. Datsyuk has had four seasons with at least 87 points in his nine-year career, while Krejci’s career-high in points came when he notched 73 in 2008-09.
Krejci was watching the game, but said he didn’t hear the “obviously” flattering remark.
“The guys told me about that,” Krejci said Friday. “I didn’t hear it on TV, but I don’t know what to say.”
Krejci himself had some kind words for the Detroit center, noting that he believes Datsyuk is the best hockey player in the world.
“I think he’s a little different player than I am,” the 25-year-old said. “He’s got great hands. I don’t think there is another player like him. He’s the best player in the world with his skills, with the puck moves. He’s just unbelievable. It’s just good to watch him. There is no one like him and there will never be.”
Krejci had difficulty comparing his game to that of Datsyuk’s, but had no problem comparing the B’s to the Wings, who were eliminated Thursday.
“I don’t know,” Krejci said when asked to compare himself to Datsyuk. “I don’t really care. I’m in the third round, and he’s done. It’s not just about skill players or about star players. You’ve got to have a good team, and I think that’s what we have. We have a better team than they do because we’re in the third round. We have a chance to go to the Stanley Cup final. They are done, so it’s different between me and him right now.”
|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.
|Claude Julien: Bruins ‘optimistic’ about Patrice Bergeron||05.13.11 at 1:23 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien has been asked about the status of Patrice Bergeron ever since the 25-year-old went down with a concussion in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, and he has yet to offer any update aside from that Bergeron is feeling better. Friday was no different, though Julien did share a laugh with the media.
“Well I think, I don’t know if you guys share a conference before I get here and say who’s asking the question today, but I am getting that question asked everyday,” Julien said. “I think he’s improving — he really is improving. We’re optimistic about him. As Peter [Chiarelli] said, we knew he was going to miss the start of the series and how much he is going to miss, I can’t tell you right now. But he is on the right track and we’re staying positive.
“Again, I say that every day. I’m not going to say much more because when it comes to concussions you have good news and you have setbacks and you have all kinds of things that can happen. I’m not going to stand here and change my tune every day except to tell you that right now that’s going in the right direction.”
Through 11 games, Bergeron leads the B’s with 12 points this postseason. Julien offered on Thursday that the center had not been doing any sort of workouts.
|Brad Marchand on M&M: Tyler Seguin ‘not nervous at all’||05.13.11 at 1:09 pm ET|
Bruins winger Brad Marchand joined the Mut & Merloni show Friday afternoon, as the B’s prepare for Saturday night’s Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.
Both the Bruins and Lightning swept their previous series and have been waiting for more than a week to start this series. Marchand acknowledged the important of coming out strong.
“We just have to make sure that we have a big start to the game,” he said. We’re starting at home and we want to use our fans to our advantage, kind of get them into the game early. Both teams are going to be rusty, we’ve had a while off. But we have to make sure we come out hard.”
Marchand is known for his aggressive, scrappy style. He said he’s always played that way. “I don’t know why. It just seemed to get me more in the game,” he said. “It was something that just kind of came out as I was playing. It was always a fun role to play. I know if I was ever going to break into the league I needed to do something different, and that was it.”
Marchand indicated he’s encouraged by the progress shown by center Patrice Bergeron in his recovery from a concussion. “He’s looking good. He’s feeling better,” Marchand said. “I know he’s got some tests. I don’t know a ton about what’s going on. But I know he’s looking better every day. So, hopefully he’s back here soon.”
Rookie Tyler Seguin is slated to play in Game 1 in place of Bergeron. While it would be Seguin’s first appearance of the postseason, Marchand is confident the youngster will do well.
“He surprises me, the way he just carries himself like nothing bothers him. He’s not nervous at all,” Marchand said. “He looks unbelievable in practice right now. He looks like one of the best players out there in practice. He’s just so fired up and anxious to play that he’s going to come out hard. I’m expecting him to play pretty well in this series. He has so much skill.
“When you watch from up above, you can learn a lot. He’s been taking it in and learning a lot. He’s ready to go. I didn’t have to say anything to him. He knows what he has to do and he’s going to play hard out there.”
|Andrew Ference on D&C: Claude Julien has fiery side||05.13.11 at 9:57 am ET|
Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference appeared on the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the upcoming series with the Lightning. To hear the interview, visit the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Ference said the Bruins are itching to get back to game action after having an eight-day layoff but that they haven’t gotten too restless in practice this week. ‘This week’s been handled well. We’ve had a couple of good practices,’ Ference said. ‘It actually doesn’t feel overloaded. I think it’s been just the right amount.’
Ference said there were still some good battles in practice, though. ‘We had some stitches yesterday,’ he said. ‘You get battles because you have to stay sharp. … If one guy’s going at 95 percent game speed and the other’s at 80 percent, it doesn’t always work out. That guy at 80 percent gets brought up to speed fast.’
Ference also talked about matching up against the Lightning and which players he’s been focusing on the most.
‘I know Johnny [Boychuk] and I are probably going to be up against their second line a lot, so [Vincent] Lecavalier is obviously a guy we’re going to have to key on,’ Ference said. ‘He’s been a good player for a long time. But honestly, I’m not big on studying the guys I’m playing against. I just concentrate on myself and what I have to do.’
As many others have already noted, Ference said the Lightning play more like the Canadiens than the Flyers, especially when it comes to neutral-zone play. ‘We’ll have to line up kind of like we did with Montreal,’ he said. ‘We’ll have to have patience in our game. They can be aggressive, but more often than not, they’ll fall back and frustrate teams with their defense and clogging up the neutral zone.’ Read the rest of this entry »