|Why Tim Thomas is a happy man||10.22.10 at 12:01 pm ET|
At the end of last year and in the playoffs, Tim Thomas wasn’t smiling that much. He was in pain from not playing and from bad hip that required labrum surgery in the offseason.
Fast forward five months and you have a spry 36-year-old goalie sliding easily from post to post, stopping 38-of-39 saves in a 4-1 win over the mighty Washington Capitals in the team’s first game of the season before a fired-up crowd at TD Garden. He is 4-0 to start the season, allowing only three goals while posting a 0.75 goals against and a .978 save percentage.
Why wouldn’t you be smiling?
“I felt good, I felt really good,” Thomas said. “My movement felt real good and maybe there was some rebounds, where there’s a different kind of on, where it just sticks to you and there’s no rebounds and stuff. I didn’t exactly have that tonight, so my D helped me out with the rebounds, but I had the movement and the speed. One of these days, you’ll have everything and one of these days I’ll play the puck the right way too.
“I think it’s been exceptional the last couple of weeks since, you know, I got back into the groove. I felt it coming in the early days of Czech and you know, it’s fun when you can move.”
Thomas even admitted he’s exceeded his own expectations in his recovery.
“For sure, and obviously, I couldn’t be happier with the way I’m feeling this far,” Thomas said. “You know, now I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep working in practice, and there’s ways that I can make it easier on myself. That will be my goal in practice.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Capitals 4, Bruins 1||09.29.10 at 10:35 pm ET|
And finally, it’s off to Europe.
The 24 hours leading up to Wednesday night’s red-eye, 5 1/2-hour flight to Belfast, couldn’t have been more hectic for the Bruins.
They played Tuesday night in Washington and lost to the Capitals, 3-2, in a tense game that featured third-period rough-housing between Gregory Campbell and Alexander Ovechkin.
They hopped on a plane and had to come to Boston for the team’s annual media day Wednesday morning.
They then went home to finish up packing for a 12-day trip to Europe and came back to play the same Capitals team at TD Garden.
So it was hardly a surprise that in their final North American preseason tuneup before getting on a plane for Belfast, Ireland and their season opener on Oct. 9 in Prague, the Bruins dropped a 4-1 decision to the Capitals.
Tim Thomas saw his first action of the preseason and played all 60 minutes, allowing four goals on 24 shots. Niklas Backstrom scored the first two goals before the Capitals built their lead to 4-0 early in the third period.
Mark Recchi scored his first of the preseason midway through the third on a power play, with assists from Patrice Bergeron and Michael Ryder. The Bruins left immediately after the game for Logan Airport, where they caught a charter flight to Belfast. They will play an elite area team in Ireland on Oct. 3 before opening with the Phoenix Coyotes in a pair of games Oct. 9 and 10.
The Bruins finished their NHL portion of preseason with a 1-3-1 mark, while the Capitals, who did not travel superstar Alexander Ovechkin to Boston, remained perfect at 4-0-0 in preseason.
|First period summary: Capitals 1, Bruins 0||at 7:43 pm ET|
Tim Thomas faced six shots and stopped five as Nicklas Backstrom beat the veteran goaltender on a one-timer in front of the net midway through the period.
With teammate Tuukka Rask in sweats up in the press box halo looking on, Thomas looked solid, if not spectacular in his first preseason action this fall.
The Bruins managed just five shots on Capitals netminder Dany Sabourin.
The highlight of the period came two seconds in when Bruins center Gregory Campbell dropped the gloves with Capitals center Matt Hendricks. Just 24 hours earlier, Cambell got into it with Alexander Ovechkin as the two exchanged pleasantries at the Verizon Center.
Ovechkin cross-checked Campbell, who later came back at Ovechkin with a hard hit into the boards. The rough stuff continued and escalated in the third period.
Ovechkin didn’t make the trip so Hendricks was the stand-in and delivered the message at the earliest possible moment – the opening face-off.
As for the most anticipated talent in these parts since Joe Thornton, Tyler Seguin centered the line with Blake Wheeler and Michael Ryder. He played 5 minutes, 13 seconds and didn’t get a shot on goal. He was on the ice for the Backstrom goal and finished the period with a -1.
|Bruins introduce Jarvis, look toward future||08.04.10 at 6:11 pm ET|
During an impressive offseason in which the Bruins added much needed depth on the ice, the team has now found a new coach to help Claude Julien from up above. Doug Jarvis was introduced Wednesday as the new assistant coach, coming to Boston after lengthy stops in Montreal and Dallas.
The 55-year-old spent the past four years as an associate coach with the Canadiens, having coached alongside Julien during the 2005-06 campaign. Prior to that, he was with the Stars for 14 seasons, and had a fairly impressive playing career, winning four Stanley Cups with the Canadiens (’76, ’77, ’78 and ’79).
The opening for another assistant was created by the departure of Craig Ramsay, who left to become head coach in Atlanta.
When asked about the impact Jarvis will have on the team, Julien explained that the history the two share, as well as the long road he has taken to get here, will be instrumental with such a young team.
“When you talk to Doug Jarvis, he knows a lot about the game,” Julien explained via conference call Wednesday. “He’s played it for such a long time. Also, when you look back at how long he has coached, he’s been through a lot. He knows the different situations, how to deal with those, and you can see that. I’m one of those coaches that will see that first-hand.
“When I had him in Montreal I really enjoyed and really appreciated his loyalty, his dedication. Obviously, he’s one of those guys who will work hard and won’t be counting the hours as far as what needs to be done. People who are passionate are people who do that. Doug’s a very passionate person. He’s got a wealth of Stanley Cup championships as a player and as a coach. And that becomes valuable, especially when you’ve got a fairly young team.”
Jarvis echoed many of the same sentiments, sounding very excited to work in a new city with a young, promising organization.
“Well, certainly, having coached against [the Bruins], not last year but the two previous years, I have certainly seen a team that has great discipline and a lot of structure in it,” he said. “I have seen a team that in it’s development, a team that is on the move, and I think has established itself as a strong contender in pursuit of a Stanley Cup.
“In my playing days, obviously we go back to the late [1970s] there, the rivalry that has always existed between Montreal and Boston. For me, those years were special, in terms of playoffs and working towards the Stanley Cup. We’ve had some very memorable series, as we can all recall, particularly , the seven-game series in the semifinal, and also I believe in  when [Montreal] won the cup. All terrific series, all memorable times against a team and organization that I have a tremendous amount of respect for.”
Jarvis was out of the NHL last season but still followed the game closely. Asked what it will be like coaching from up in the box compared to the bench, he sounded very enthusiastic.
“Yeah, it will be a different perspective, one I am looking forward to when I heard what the role would be,” he added. “From up top it certainly means that keeping an eye on the game and making in-game adjustments that possibly have to be made; giving out information down to the bench. Other things that go along with that role will be pre-scouting the opposition in preparation for the game. I think doing a lot of the normal things coaches do. Whether it’s working with the players one-on-one with the video, those types of things.”
Jarvis added that he missed being close to the game, as well as having the opportunity to teach players the nuances of the game he picked up over the years. The Bruins seem to be an ideal opportunity for him to add to his already impressive resume.
Said Jarvis: “I consider it a real privilege to have the opportunity to join an organization with such a great hockey history and tradition as the Boston Bruins. I’m very much looking forward to becoming a part of the hockey staff in Boston.”
|Kovalchuk the best thing that never happened for Bruins||07.19.10 at 5:52 pm ET|
Seventeen years is a long time, but not too long for the Devils and all-galaxy winger Ilya Kovalchuk, apparently. According to reports, Kovalchuk will get in excess of $100 million dollars in a deal that will run longer than both World Wars and the American Civil War combined. The front office in New Jersey must have had a whale of a time trying to project how things will be in 15, 16, and 17 years. Today’s babies will be driving. Today’s children will be parents. Today’s parents will perhaps be grandparents.
And Kovalchuk’s contract will still be on the books.
So, as Devils fans celebrate the retaining of their top offensive threat and take to partying like it’s 2027, it’s quite amusing to think back to a time when fans wanted the Bruins to make a deal last season to acquire the then-Thrasher at any cost. The asking price for Kovalchuk during the season included the first-round pick the Bruins had acquired from the Maple Leafs in the Phil Kessel deal. Blake Wheeler‘s name also popped up in rumors regarding the two teams, though it’s difficult to project which players would have made their way to Atlanta in a deal. During the season it was quite apparent the pick would be at least a top-five-to-top-three pick, and thus the Bruins pulled out of the running due to an unwillingness to move the pick.
Five months and an outrageously lengthy deal later, it appears the Bruins made the right move by making no move at all with the Thrashers. They kept the pick, which ended up being the second overall selection, and got what many believe is a star in center Tyler Seguin. Once signed, Seguin will receive a salary of $900,000 in addition to performance bonuses, which means his cap hit during the life of his entry level deal could max out at around $3.75 million.
Seguin’s contract, should he become the player many expect him to be, will be good money for a potentially elite player. However, given the current cap disaster the Bruins are dealing with, many are wondering how they will even be able to stay under $59.4 million while paying the rookie (who, at age 18, has been alive just one more year than Kovalchuk’s deal will run) the bargain rate of $900,000.
The team has between $500,000 and $600,000 in cap space and, in addition to having to sign Seguin, are just over a week from winger Wheeler’s arbitration date. That situation could be rather costly, as Wheeler earned $2.8 million last season and a source told WEEI.com Monday that the two sides have made “no progress” on a deal to avoid arbitration.
Had the Bruins made a deal involving the Toronto pick for Kovalchuk during the season, not only would they be without the long-term benefits of Seguin, but they would have almost surely lost the winger on the open market. Trying to work out a deal to keep him in the fold would be a stray from what the current front office is used to, as history has shown that general manager Peter Chiarelli’s idea of a lengthy contract is the seven-year, $28.05 million extension the team gave to center Marc Savard in November.
Keeping in mind the team has long-term plans outside of Seguin and Wheeler, getting and keeping Kovalchuk — even if he did receive as long a deal as he got from the Devils and carried a $6 million cap hit — would have made a lot of the Bruins’ other plans a lot tougher. Who knows if they would have been able to give defensemen Dennis Seidenberg and Johnny Boychuk raises before free agency hit or whether they would have waited it out in hopes of making sure they could retain Kovalchuk. Forget about devoting any time to potential extensions for Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron. Maybe Tim Thomas would have been forced to be expendable in a soft deal, thus making the goaltending situation far less stable. There are dozens of other combinations of undesirable cost-cutting maneuvers the Bruins would have been forced into just to make sure they had a chance at keeping the winger.
The Bruins should be applauded for having one of the better offenses for any team in the league. They gave themselves a chance to do big things by getting the pick from Toronto, and in keeping it, they may have avoided financial strife and roster catastrophe.
|Source: Bruins, Wheeler making ‘no progress’||at 12:38 pm ET|
The Bruins wanted to avoid arbitration in the cases of Gregory Campbell and Blake Wheeler, and though they did so with Campbell last week with a two-year, $2.2 million deal, locking up Wheeler before his July 27 hearing may not be as easy.
According to a league source, the Bruins and Wheeler’s camp have made “no progress” thus far on a new contract, though talks are expected to pick up soon. If Wheeler makes it to a hearing and the Bruins choose against paying him what he is awarded, the 23-year-old will become an unrestricted free agent and would be free to sign with any team.
The Bruins would officially be over the $59.4 million salary cap by signing Wheeler, who earned $2.8 million last season, but general manager Peter Chiarelli indicated last week that it is the team’s intention to come to deals with both Wheeler and rookie forward Tyler Seguin.
Defenseman David Tanabe is the only the case in which Chiarelli and a player saw the arbitration process through, with Tanabe being awarded $1.275 in 2006 and the Bruins letting him walk. Tanabe then signed with the Hurricanes and played parts of two seasons with the team before a concussion ended his career.
Wheeler is just two years into his NHL career and last season scored 18 goals and chipped in 20 assists for 38 points, a step down from the 21-24-45 totals he posted as a rookie in the 2008-2009 campaign. He has missed just one game in his career.
|Slow free agency to blame for slowed trade market||at 3:41 am ET|
The Bruins had plans to be active in the trade market throughout the offseason, and as anyone who’s seen their current cap situation could infer, they would have been in far better shape had they been able to move contracts out as they brought new ones in. Yet in all their moves thus far, they’ve crept closer and closer to that $59.4 million cap ceiling with moves still left to be made.
Dennis Wideman and Nathan Horton‘s annual cap hits were essentially a wash, with Horton ($4 million) making slightly more, but the $1.1 million Gregory Campbell will earn in each of the next two seasons, in addition to multiple re-signings made by the Bruins, has left the team looking at just over $500,000 to sign both Blake Wheeler and Tyler Seguin, neither of which could be had for such cheap money.
Though the Bruins clearly are in a predicament, it’s tough to blame them. In fact, it could be argued that they have actually done the best with the situation the offseason has put them in, with free agency in particular preventing them from potentially making a deal they may be interested in.
Though Ilya Kovalchuk has gotten plenty of attention for still not having signed a deal, the fact of the matter is that the high-scoring winger is not alone is prolonged free agent status. Alexander Frolov, Lee Stempniak, Marty Turco, Paul Kariya and Maxim Afinogenov are just a few of the big names that remain on the market 20 days into free agency.
As a result, general manager Peter Chiarelli said last week to expect the Bruins to be “relatively quiet” as they wrap up Wheeler and Seguin. This means that anyone who has been strung along by each murmur of a rumored deal including Marc Savard or Tim Thomas may be disappointed. Read the rest of this entry »
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