|Bergy… No holding back this year||04.14.09 at 3:27 pm ET|
Patrice Bergeron would rather not relive last year at this time when the Bruins were getting ready to take on the Canadiens in round 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
The star center was on the cusp of returning from a grade 3 concussion suffered on Oct. 27, 2007 when Philadelphia’s Randy Jones drilled him into the corner boards at the Garden. He battled all winter with severe headaches and pain generally associated with that type of serious concussion.
Bergeron had returned to the Ristuccia Center ice and was skating with his teammates, even taking some hits in practice. But head coach Claude Julien and general manager Peter Chiarelli were not about to risk the long term future for short-term gain, even if it meant conceding a huge piece of depth along the front line.
“There’s no doubt that had we had him last year, and even Chuck Kobasew who missed the playoffs, we might have gotten past the first round,” said Julien, who watched his team come from 3-1 down only to succumb in seven heart-stopping games in the first round. “Those are sometimes the little details that you’re missing at times. But our young guys had a chance to develop because of the absence of those guys.”
|Bruins skate underway||at 10:42 am ET|
With Game 1 of the Stanley Cup playoffs just over 48 hours away, the Bruins took to the to ice this morning just after 11 at Ristuccia Rink in Wilimington in preparation for the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night at TD Banknorth Garden.
Practice is expected to last approximately an hour.
Defenseman Andrew Ference, who has been out with an undisclosed injury since April 4, was the only Bruin not to take the ice while Patrice Bergeron did return.
“He continues to be day-to-day,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said of Ference following practice. “That’s his situation and as long as you don’t see him on the ice, that means he’s not ready to come back yet. I think when you see him on the ice for the first time, that’ll be a good sign.”
|Jacobs: Winter Classic at Fenway is “close” but not “finalized”||04.09.09 at 2:30 pm ET|
Responding to a report out of the Boston Herald that the Boston Bruins will play the 2010 Winter Classic outdoors at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day, Boston Bruins and Delaware North Companies Principal Charlie Jacobs stated in an email to WEEI.com this afternoon that nothing has yet been finalized to make the Jan. 1 hockey game a reality. Jacobs said that the classic is “close” to coming to Boston, but that nothing has been finalized by the parties involved.
“Contrary to published reports, at this time we have not finalized plans for a Bruins game at Fenway Park on New Year’s Day,” wrote Jacobs in an email to WEEI.com. “It is no secret that I would love to bring The Winter Classic to the City of Boston – and I have been working with the NHL to consider a number of venues in the area. We believe that we are close to accomplishing this. Bruins fans deserve to have an outdoor game, and we hope to deliver one to them in the near future.”
|Bruins will host 2010 NHL Winter Classic at Fenway||at 11:47 am ET|
A hockey source familair with the proceedings has confirmed to WEEI.com that the 2010 NHL Winter Classic will take place at Fenway Park on Jan. 1 with the Boston Bruins taking on an as-yet-undetermined opponent. The two most speculated opponents for the Fenway game have been the New York Rangers and the rival Montreal Canadiens, with the Habs the more likely of the two teams.
After the last two NHL Winter Classics have gone without a Canadian hockey team, it’s expected there will be pressure exerted by the powers that be North of the Border to get the Canadiens involved in the Boston game. Bet on B’s and hope for the Habs Jan. 1 at Fenway Park, and expect a banged out ballpark with mittens, hot cocoa and earmuffs as far as the eye can see. Should be a once-in-a-lifetime type event.
|Sobotka called up to Bruins on emergency basis||at 11:27 am ET|
Young Czech forward Vladimir Sobotka was called up to Boston this morning on an emergency basis for tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens at the TD Banknorth Garden. The 21-year-0ld Sobotka has a goal and three assists in 23 games for the Bruins this season, and has 20 goals and 24 assists and a +11 in 44 games for the Providence Bruins this season.
Chuck Kobasew, Dennis Wideman and P.J. Axelsson were all question marks heading into a game with playoff implications against the Montreal Canadiens after not practicing at Ristuccia Arena on Wednesday afternoon. Sobotka’s recall is a pretty indication that either Axelsson or Kobasew won’t be healthy enough to go against the hated Habs tonight.
|Sounds of the game… Won’t be fooled again||04.04.09 at 4:47 pm ET|
Bruins head coach Claude Julien was having none of Sean Avery’s antics.
He knew what the agitator of all agitators in the NHL was trying to do to his goalie. That’s why he kept a close eye on him as he gave a little whack to the back of Tim Thomas’ head during a time out with 5:24 remaining in Boston’s 1-0 win over the New York Rangers Saturday at the Garden.
“For me, it’s just that you have to keep an eye on this guy all the time, even after whistles because when he did that, he looked around to see if anyone was looking,” Julien said. “He’s an expert at that and that’s what he tries to do so it’s important for the referees, when he’s on the ice after whistles, to keep an eye on him because you know he’s going to do something.”
Julien also wasn’t surprised when he goalie took off after Avery toward center ice and gave him a roundhouse, which got the crowd into a frenzy.
“Personally, a coach never likes to see his goaltender get in those situations,” Julien said. “Do I agree with it? no. But Timmy’s emotional and by that time, it’s too late.”
Then there’s the take of the man himself.
“It’s a TV timeout,” Thomas said. “It’s an unwritten rule that basically nothing happens during a TV timeout. I’m stretching there, and Avery comes by, and I get hit in the head with a stick. You look up and you see who it is, and you’re like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’”
It was no joke to Thomas and the Bruins, who kept their composure and held on for the win that sealed the top seed in the Eastern Conference for the Bruins.
“I really like the fact that we kept our composure and got the win there,” Thomas said. “That’s the key. When you react, you fall little bit into exactly what he wants you to do, but if you can react and not have it affect your game, then he didn’t do his job, and it didn’t work.”
Marc Savard was called for a cross-check moments later, forcing the Bruins to kill a 4-on-3 after Thomas and Avery were called for roughing penalties. And they did.
As for Avery, reporters tried to approach him but they were told by the Rangers P.R. that he wasn’t talking. One of the reporters fired back, ‘He can answer for himself.’
On Saturday, it was Thomas who had the answers.
|Today is a day to celebrate the greatness of Tim Thomas||at 12:09 pm ET|
There was a great deal of talk about persevering, unorthodox goaltending and his age — he’ll be 35 year of age in a matter of weeks — but Saturday morning was clearly the exact right moment to celebrate the classic American success story that is Tim Thomas.
The B’s goaltender was the son of a salesman growing up in hardscrabble Flint, Michigan — a guy that was never handed anything during his entire career and was taught work ethic and stick-to-itiveness by his parents. Not at the University of Vermont where he became an All-American goaltender, and not later on in the nine stops along his minor league/European odyssey that included stints in both the Finnish and Swedish Elite Leagues along with traditional minor league stops like the ECHL and the defunct Colonial Hockey League.
It’s about a goaltender that’s fit well within the long, storied tradition of Bruins goaltenders from Tiny Thompson to Andy Moog and Pete Peeters. After recently watching the Original Six History of the Bruins DVD and being reintroduced to so many great B’s goalies from the past, it was clear that Thomas is now up in that pantheon with the rest of the Black and Gold puckstopping legends. The fact that he didn’t crack the NHL until after the age of 30 will just another part of his legendary story.
Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli admitted that he had a bit of a preconceived idea about Thomas’ ultimate ceiling in terms of talent prior to coming to Boston, but that changed when he saw the netminder’s high-wire acrobatic act between the pipes on a nightly basis. Instead of grading out a goalie that was constantly out of position and seemed to always be scrambling for a recovery, he saw an incredible athlete that could just flat out perform his No. 1 duty guarding the B’s cage: stop the puck.
“When we talk about the Tim Thomas story, we talk about perseverance over a long period of time, we talk about a long journey, and we talk about an unorthodox , hybrid style,” said Chiarelli. “But what sometimes gets lost is his uncanny ability to stop the puck. That’s why we’ve extended him.”
That second impression culminated in a four-year contract for a reported $20 million that Thomas made official on Friday, and talked about along with Chiarelli — the man that was playing point during the long negotiations – on Saturday morning prior to the Bruins/Rangers tilt.
Chiarelli admitted that Thomas’ age (he’ll turn 39 in the final days of the four-year pact) was a consideration, but that two things mitigated his status as a bit of a middle-aged goalie: there are many goalies still close to their puck-stopping primes in their mid-to-late 30′s and Thomas is relatively fresh after not entering the NHL grind until he had already crossed the 30 years-old threshold. In Chiarelli’s eyes, paying all those dues in Europe and the minors are now benefitting the “Tank.”
“I’m very happy to be staying in Boston for the next four years,” said Thomas, who is leading the NHL in Goals Against Average (GAA) of 2.11 and a save percentage of .932 and putting the finishing touches on a Vezina Trophy-worthy season. “With free agency potentially coming up this summer, you think about whether you’d rather play somewhere else or you’d rather stay in Boston. After weighing things over and over, the answer always kept coming back to ‘Boston’.
“I’m very happy that this is done, and I think I’ve done a really good job of just concentrating on hockey throughout the year, even knowing that we’ve had our talks off and on,” added Thomas, who then went out and tossed his 12th career NHL shutout against the Rangers later on Saturday afternoon. “This gives me a 100 percent chance to just focus on hockey and leave the rest of the stuff (behind).”
Chiarelli said that the team faces some difficult decisions to make over the summer when Phil Kessel, David Krejci and Matt Hunwick are all restricted free agents and P.J. Axelsson also finds his contract up. There’s a near certainty that at least one big contract will need to be moved in the summer months amid an uncertain salary cap situation, and Chiarelli didn’t shy away from that part of his managerial duties. There could be a painful trade or two coming down the line because of the salary cap situation, but that’s another story for another day.
Yesterday was about Thomas.
“This is our job,” said Chiarelli. “We have to figure out the puzzle, we have to make decisions. I’d like to sign everyone, but we have to make decisions over the summer and look at the performance of our players. Then we do the math.
“We’ve been doing the math ever since I’ve come here and that’s a large part of the job,” added the B’s decision-maker. “What is important to the organization is that we have terrific goaltending for a long time, and sometimes you have to put side the math — not completely — and make the decisions like we did with Tim.”
Thomas will continue answering all the questions that dog him when the playoffs begin in a matter of weeks, but yesterday was one of those few days when the B’s goalie could kick up his skates and have a little pride at a moment that proved he has truly arrived.
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