|Tim Thomas returns to form following four straight losses||03.22.11 at 10:49 pm ET|
Tim Thomas entered Tuesday night in the midst of his worst stretch of the season. He hadn’t won a game in nearly three weeks, going 0-2-2 in his last four starts. It marked the first time all season he had gone four games without a win and the first time all season he had given up three or more goals in four straight.
Tuesday night, Thomas returned to form in the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Devils. He stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced to earn his 30th win of the season.
‘I think it was mutual for both, the team and Timmy,’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said of getting back in the win column. ‘I don’t think we have to worry about him. He’s been a good goaltender for us this year, so it certainly wasn’t a concern on our part more than our team play. And our team play was much better.’
Thomas was especially strong in the early going, as the Devils registered 12 of the game’s first 13 shots. New Jersey did manage to score during that span, but it came on a power-play one-timer by Ilya Kovalchuk that Thomas didn’t have much of a chance to stop.
‘I thought we were a little fragile there with what’s been happening,’ Julien said. ‘But we were able to resist and obviously Tim made some big saves early on just to keep us in there.’
Thomas said the key to turning around his recent lack of success was that his defensemen did a better job of allowing him to see the puck.
‘They had a few shots, they had a few good chances,’ Thomas said. ‘But they were also letting me see the puck a little bit more than we had in the last few games. ‘¦ I think that’s definitely a right step forward. We need to build off it and make sure we continue on. And we need to do the same things that gave us success tonight.’
Defenseman Tomas Kaberle said getting out of Thomas’ way is something the team has been focusing on in practice.
‘You want him to see the shot,’ Kaberle said. ‘You don’t want to tip the puck or something. You just want to box out in front of the net and hopefully he’ll make the big saves. Especially on the outside, he’s going to make the save every time. We talked about it before the game and in between the periods. He’s been a key to success for us this season and hopefully we keep it that way.’
After the slow start, Boston was able to take control of the game and relieve Thomas of some of the pressure. Following the early 12-1 shot deficit, the Bruins outshot the Devils 29-19 the rest of the way. They also drew five straight penalties at one point and were able to net four unanswered goals.
‘I think by the end of the first, or last half of the first period, we started to get our legs moving and that was the difference,’ Thomas said. ‘I think that’s what led to them taking the penalties in the second period, because we were moving our feet and that leads to penalties, drawn penalties. We were able to continue that throughout the game.’
With Shane Hnidy coming off LTIR Tuesday, Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed to reiterate Sunday’s comments that he is by no means coming in and taking anyone’s job. He said after Tuesday’s practice that Hnidy can’t go down to Providence, so that he’ll remain with Boston as a depth guy who could occasionally see playing time.
“I don’t know what upper management has in mind here. I don’t think he can go to Providence at this stage of the season, after the trade deadline,” Julien. “So this is something that I don’t think is in the options. But he’s come around, and I think we’ll see him at some point in our lineup. We brought him here to give us some depth, and if we’re going to use him as a depth player, at some point from here to the end he’s going to see some action.”
With that being said, Julien noted that he doesn’t feel Hnidy, who hasn’t played all season due to a shoulder injury suffered in training camp with the Coyotes, is a liability.
“Just because he’s in our lineup doesn’t mean we can’t win our hockey game either. It’s just a matter of him not having played this year,” Julien said. “There’s going to be some small adjustments with him, but we can manage that, put him in some situations where he can get on the ice and help us more than hurt us.”
Given that all the other defensemen are healthy, the B’s have eight blueliners to choose from.
|Bruins hold optional skate||at 11:20 am ET|
After two days of high-energy practices, Claude Julien elected to make Tuesday’s morning skate optional. Just about everyone on the team agreed with this logic, as only Tuukka Rask and Daniel Paille took the ice.
Reading into things, this could mean that Paille might be the healthy scratch among the forwards. Brad Marchand is eligible to return vs. the Devils after a two-game suspension, while Tyler Seguin‘s recent play has made him hard to sit. The last two practices have featured both Marchand and Michael Ryder on the wing opposite Mark Recchi, so if Paille is the scratch, Marchand could be a candidate to reunite with the Merlot line.
|Shane Hnidy ready to come off LTIR||03.21.11 at 5:45 pm ET|
He might not play, but at least he’s eligible to do so.
Shane Hnidy will see team doctors Tuesday en route to officially coming off long-term injury reserve, meaning the veteran blueliner will be available to the Bruins for the first time since they signed him in late February. Hnidy had been rehabbing a shoulder injury suffered with the Coyotes in training camp.
“It’s the doctors’ thing,” Hnidy said. “If it was up to me, I was ready a while ago, but it’s probably best to wait. It feels really strong, and I’ve been able to battle the last few practices and have been doing it for a while. I haven’t had a negative effect at all.”
Claude Julien reiterated Sunday that Hnidy was brought in for depth purposes and that he wouldn’t be taking anyone’s job. Hnidy understands that, but he’ll welcome the playing time when it comes.
“The whole reason you want to come is to play, but I knew what the situation was coming in,” he said. “If it works out and I’m needed and have to play, I’m going to go out there and do my best. I’m anxious to get back and get in a game, but if not, I’ll just continue on this path, and try to prepare the best way I can.”
Hnidy previously played for the Bruins from 2007-09, totaling 17 points (4 G, 13 A) in 108 games.
WILMINGTON — When Claude Julien put Tim Thomas back in to start the third period against the Maple Leafs Saturday night, the logical reason as to why was because of Tuukka Rask‘s latest display of frustration. After Rask, who came in with over 11 minutes remaining in the second period in relief of Thomas, allowed the game’s fifth goal, he was visibly infuriated with defenseman Dennis Seidenberg, who screened him on the play.
Julien has maintained that the move was not disciplinary, and that it was because Thomas wanted to go back out. Monday, he shed light on Rask’s behavior on the ice.
“I don’t support that,” Julien said. “I don’t think anybody supports that, including him. Sometimes frustration sets in, you see players breaking their sticks after a goal against or something. You see them putting their heads up in the air after they miss an open net. There’s a frustration point, so I’m certainly not going to stand here and start accusing him of that, but it’s something you don’t want to see from anybody because it has a big impact on your team.
“Having said that, I think Tuukka’s aware of that, and if anything, he’s been playing some of his best hooky lately, so I don’t think there’s any need for that. I think it’s just that sometimes you’ve got to control your emotions. He’s frustrated with the first half of the year, and he wants to help this hockey club. Sometimes his emotions are probably running a little too high and he reacts that way, but having said that, it had no influence on my decision on Saturday.”
For what it’s worth, Rask has been cool as a cucumber off the ice all season despite the uncertainty as to when he’ll play. On the ice, however, he’s never shied away from expressing his emotions, and Julien hopes he can keep them in check.
WILMINGTON — The Bruins’ dressing room seemed to be silent Monday when it came to discussing Matt Cooke‘s latest cheap shot. Shawn Thornton didn’t like the idea of commenting on it, while Johnny Boychuk claimed to have not seen the hit. Despite not everybody talking, Brad Marchand and even coach Claude Julien said enough to make it clear that Cooke’s act is not appreciated in these parts.
The Bruins, of course, have a direct tie to Cooke in that they are currently playing without Marc Savard, who has not been the same since Cooke blind-sided him last season.
“I think that it’s about time he gets — he’s got to be taught a lesson,” Marchand said. “He’s doing that stuff left, right, and center. I expect that he’ll probably get a bunch of games, but he’s got to be taught a lesson. You can’t be running around doing that stuff all the time. He’s going to seriously hurt someone again. Look at Savvy, and now McDonagh. He could have easily hurt him.
“It just seems to be part of his game. He likes to throw cheap shots around. I don’t know if he’ll learn. Hopefully he does. Hopefully he doesn’t hurt someone to the point where their career is over. You want to get that stuff out of the game, and hopefully he does learn his lesson.”
Marchand is coming off a two-game suspension of his own for a blindside elbow on Blue Jackets forward R.J. Umberger last week. As a first-time offender, Marchand and Julien hope that theta young forward’s lesson has been learned, but when asked about Marchand, Julien worked in a jab at Cooke.
“I think you need to trust your players to do the right things,” Julien said. “You have to trust your players that they’ve learned from those things and they don’t let it happen, although there are certain guys in the league that don’t seem to be learning.”
There was a light-hearted reaction to the Cooke reference, though when asked to comment further on the Penguins forward, Julien got serious and politely declined.
“No reaction, no comment,” Julien said. “I think right now I’ve got my hands full with trying to get our team back on track. This is an opportunity for me to let the league do their job.”
|Claude Julien taking wait-and-see approach on Brad Marchand hit||03.16.11 at 6:18 pm ET|
Bruins coach Claude Julien doesn’t care to venture a guess on what the result of Brad Marchand’s phone hearing with the league Thursday morning. Julien told reporters Wednesday in Nashville that regardless of how the league rules on Marchand’s elbow to the head of R.J. Umberger Tuesday, he’ll respect the decision, especially given the attention placed on headshots in the general managers meetings.
“I don’t know how they’re going to call it, to start with,” Julien told reporters. “I think I’ll wait and hear what they have to say about the hit and how they’re going to interpret it. Then, with an explanation, maybe I’ll understand exactly where they’re going with it.
“Right now, I don’t think I can comment on much. There’s nothing to gain from a comment after everything that’s gone on there in the last three days and how they’ve addressed it and how they want to make it better. I’ve got to wait and see, and I’ve also got to be supportive of what they’re trying to do, and I am.”
Defenseman Adam McQuaid left the ice during practice, but the coach said it was because he told the blueliner to do so after collecting bruises of late.
“He seems to be getting in the way of other teams’ shots all the time, which is a good thing for us,’ Julien said. “I think today would have just made it worse.”