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When it mattered most, Tim Thomas turned back the clock to 2011 04.13.12 at 8:25 am ET
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For two periods, rookie goalie Braden Holtby stole the show.

Then Tim Thomas reminded him, the Capitals and everyone else that he is still one of the best clutch goalies in the game.

For two periods, Tim Thomas saw a grand total of seven shots. The second period was especially dull. He didn’t face a shot on net for the first 10 minutes of the period as the Bruins outshot the Caps, 17-2, for the stanza.

But then the Capitals came out for the third. They were a different group, intent on showing they can actually get a shot on net.

“More often than not, when your team outshoots the other team heavily for a couple of periods, whether you score or not, there’s usually a time period in the game where the tables turn, and I knew they were going to get their bursts sooner or later. So I was mentally prepared for that going into the third period.”

Just four minutes in, Thomas had to be ready as the Capitals were on a power play and Alex Ovechkin was in the low left circle when he skated in and fired a wrister on Thomas.

“It was a toe save,” Thomas said of his left foot save. “I know he likes that spot, generally, over there, but he’s been changing it up and going to different spots. I didn’t even think about Ovechkin until the pass happened. I was focusing on who made the pass, the left-handed guy who made the pass. I was trying to get to my angle to make sure that he couldn’t score. But when I did see the pass released in that direction, I very quickly realized where it was going and who it was going to, so I’d better get over there very fast, and fortunately it hit my toe.”

“When a goaltender doesn’t get a ton of shots, it becomes a challenge for him to mentally stay in the game, and even physically,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You know, you don’t want to stiffen up; you want to stay warmed up, and sometimes goaltenders thrive on the more shots they get, the more they’re into the game. So I thought Tim did a great job of staying focused and staying sharp, and when he had to make those big saves, he made them, and that was nice to see, and that’s Tim. With the experience he’s had over the course of his career now, those things are starting to really show, and I thought he did a great job. It wasn’t an easy task for him tonight, and the shutout, although he had 17 shots, was well deserved because he stayed focused through the whole game.”

Then came his biggest save. Naturally, it came in overtime where any little mistake means game over. Just about a minute in, Marcus Johansson came down the left wing with only defenseman Greg Zanon in position to defend. Zanon did his job, giving Thomas a chance to see Johansson and make the game-saving stop. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Bruins, Chris Kelly, Tim Thomas
The new Jacket: Bruins hope Chain keeps them together at 1:14 am ET
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Chris Kelly looked like rapper Lil Jon after he won Game 1 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals with his goal in overtime.

Kelly was the first to sport what will likely be referred to as The Chain, Andrew Ference‘s latest token of team spirit he’s given to the Bruins in the postseason.

Last year it was The Jacket. Ference had purchased on old Bruins windbreaker on eBay that players took turns wearing. The Jacket was given to that game’s best player, and it was fittingly given to Mark Recchi as a retirement gift.

This season, it’s a chain. Kelly was the easy choice to wear it first.

It’s something kind of like last year with The Jacket,” Kelly explained as he wore the gigantic chain with a lock and Bruins logo on it. “Andrew made something that symbolizes a team, a chain. Try not to be that weak link, and it’s one of those things that you pass out after a game. It’s one of those things that’s all in good fun.”

Tim Thomas chimed in, noting that Kelly “wasn’t the weak link tonight.”

The Jacket became a pretty big thing with the Bruins and in Boston last season. The Chain’s popularity will simply depend on how long the B’s are in the postseason to wear it.

BostonBruins.com Photo

Lil Jon

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Chris Kelly, Lil Jon,
Braden Holtby shines in NHL playoffs debut at 12:58 am ET
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Braden Holtby kept the Bruins scoreless in regulation. (AP)

After the Bruins’ morning skate on Thursday, forward Chris Kelly fielded a question about what he expected to see from the Capitals goaltender, 22-year-old Braden Holtby, considering Holtby was so inexperienced. Kelly responded by saying he did not think Holtby was too inexperienced, as he thought the young goalie had already played in about 100 NHL games.

But Thursday night marked Holtby’s 22nd NHL start, not his 101st. In his NHL playoffs debut, Holtby held the Bruins offense scoreless for 61:18 in a game in which his Capitals were heavily out-shot. He stopped 29 of the 30 shots he faced and held the B’s to 0-for-4 on the power play. If others, like Kelly, did not know just how inexperienced Holtby had been, they too would have guessed he’d had been in the NHL for a while.

“It was a great game by him,” Capitals defenseman John Carlson said. “He held us in it the whole way. We had our chances and we didn’t really cash in on a few good chances. He kept us in there the whole game, and you can’t ask a goalie to keep you in there for 80 minutes of hockey every game.”

Holtby’s night got off to a fast start. The Bruins came out of the gate with energy, and while they were able to force Holtby out of his crease at times, they were never able to beat him.

In the beginning of the second period, the Bruins enjoyed nearly five consecutive minutes of power play time and peppered Holtby with shots from all angles, but Holtby came through for Washington. After the power plays came to an end, the Bruins maintained their pressure on the Washington net. Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Braden Holtby,
Claude Julien and the Bruins can joke about the power play – for now at 12:58 am ET
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Maybe Claude Julien thought he was going to get out of the 10-minute post-game session with reporters in the press area without being asked the question that hounded the Bruins like a hungry bear last spring.

But then it happened.

How concerned is the Bruins coach about going 0-for-4 on the power play?

“You’re right, it was asked a lot,” Julien joked, responding to the reporter who prefaced the situation in the 2011 playoffs. “So, uh, probably a little bit too much.”

Julien, of course, is referring to the fact the Bruins actually found a way to win the Stanley Cup with an anemic power play for three rounds before actually producing against the Canucks in the finals.

But Thursday, it was back to old – and bad – habits.

The Bruins had six consecutive minutes of power play at the end of the first and beginning of the second. Yes, they got eight shots on Braden Holtby but really no sustained pressure in terms of scoring chances. Jay Beagle took a double-minor for high sticking and Troy Brouwer was called for delay of game.

Fortunately, the Bruins scored the only goal of the game or the second-guessers would be out in force.

“We talked about that,” Julien said. “Our guys weren’t seeing much tonight. There was some openings we could have used, and we were dusting the puck a little bit too much versus shooting it, and, you know, when we made some of those passes, some of those guys should have ripped a shot right way, and instead, we stopped and we started looking for another play.

“You know, it’s unfortunate, because at practice this week, I thought our guys were moving the puck well, and they were finding the openings that we didn’t find tonight. So, we’ll keep working on that and hopefully make it a better situation because there’s no doubt, if we don’t win the game tonight, we’d be talking a lot about that being the reason that we lost. We found a way to win it. We turn the page and work on the things you need to work on.”

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, Jay Beagle
Video: Pane of glass hits David Krejci after Bruins win 04.12.12 at 11:51 pm ET
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As the Bruins were celebrating their 1-0 overtime win over the Capitals, center David Krejci was hit by a pane of glass. No word on whether he was injured. View the CBC video of the scary incident below (occurs at the one minute mark).

Another video of the incident shows Krejci getting up after the glass falls on him, albeit slowly:

AP photo:

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, David Krejci,
Bruins-Capitals Game 1 Live Blog: Scoreless in OT at 7:19 pm ET
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Who needs experience? Braden Holtby is up for the challenge at 2:57 pm ET
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If all went according to plan, Braden Holtby wouldn’t have had an enormous media scrum surrounding him at TD Garden Thursday morning. If all went according to plan, he wouldn’t have even been there.

Braden Holtby feels he can handle the Bruins. (AP)

But that’s the hand the Capitals were dealt. First, starting goaltender Tomas Vokoun has been dealing with groin issues this season and aggravated the injury on March 29 against the Bruins. Then backup Michal Neuvirth suffered a lower-body injury when Panthers forward Marco Sturm fell on him on April 5.

All of this resulted in 22-year-old Holtby, the starting goaltender for Hershey in the AHL, getting the call to be the No. 1 for the Capitals as Washington opens the Eastern Conference quarterfinals against the Bruins.

“The whole reason I’m here is injuries, and that’s unfortunate, but that was my job coming into the year as the third guy in Hershey, to be here to step up when there are injuries,” Holtby said Thursday. “Unfortunately, they’re at this time of year, but it’s my job to [make up for] those unfortunate parts. I know both of them want to be on the ice, so I’m trying to take the team with me, to bring them up.”

He’s never been in the postseason before, and the fact that he’s untested in the playoffs is made worse by the circumstances. He’s facing the Bruins, who had an NHL-best 81 goals last postseason and averaged 3.24 goals per game in the playoffs. The Bruins’ 3.2 goals per game in the recently concluded regular season ranked second in the league.

“It’s a great challenge,” Holtby said. “You have to get through everyone to make it to the Stanley Cup. Everyone’s talking about the Bruins and the Rangers. Well, you’re going to have to play either of them or both of them. If it’s Boston right now, we’re up to the challenge.”

In 40 games in the AHL this season, Holtby had a 2.61 goals-against average and a .906 save percentage. Those AHL marks are actually worse than Tim Thomas‘ NHL numbers this season, making it tough to compare the two net minders. That’s fine for Holtby, as he says he doesn’t look at games and feel he’s going against the opposing goaltender. Of course, he wouldn’t mind having Thomas’ success a year after Thomas had four shutouts in the Bruins’ Stanley Cup run and won the Conn Smythe.

“He’s obviously a battler, and that’s the reason he’s been so good,” he said. “It’s great to see a guy like that, that goes off of pure heart and determination and has been successful. It’s great and I respect the guy obviously a lot, but that goes out the window. I just want to win games right not.”

The fact that he’s even playing games right now wasn’t something the Capitals had been planning on entering the season, but Holtby has the opportunity to surprise a lot of people this postseason.

Read More: 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs, Braden Holby, Michal Neuvirth, Tomas Vokoun
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