|Milt Schmidt meant more to Tim Thomas than Phil Kessel||10.29.10 at 1:14 am ET|
It’s just that on this night – one to honor a man with 75 years of history with the Boston Bruins – it was more important for the goalie to focus on getting the win, not the lightning rod of the Hub’s hockey fans.
And focus is exactly what Thomas did, turning away all 20 shots over 60 minutes in posting his 19th career shutout – a 2-0 dispatch of the Toronto Maple Leafs before a fired-up TD Garden sellout crowd.
“Yeah, you know, it being Milt Schmidt night, the best thing we could do for him I think was to get a win, and so we were trying hard to get a good result,” Thomas said. “I mean, just listening to the accomplishments, that that man has had as part of the Bruins organization, and he deserved the win tonight, so we were focusing on that.
“Now as far as Phil Kessel goes, the other side of that coin there the you’re talking about, we’re not thinking about that We’re thinking about the two points. We needed the win. Especially we needed to bounce back after a loss, so we’re not thinking about individuals like that. At least, I’m not.”
That doesn’t mean Kessel didn’t have his chances. He had six shots on net, including one point-blank in the second period when Kessel came up the slot and took possession of a loose puck in front of Thomas.
“Oh, was it? On the other side? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I remember that,” Thomas recalled.
When you’re stopping players like Phil Kessel point blank, you’re likely putting up great numbers. And that’s what Thomas has been doing, ever since getting the start in the season’s second game.
He has two shutouts, including Thursday’s 2-0 win. He is a perfect 5-0 with a 0.60 goals against average. His save percentage is a near-perfect .980.
Is the best start he’s ever had?
“Well, probably statistically? I feel obviously that I’m playing good. The team is playing very well in front of me. They’re really helping me out with rebounds, screens, blocking in the screens, I mean. [Dennis] Seidenberg had as many saves as I did tonight, and that’s making it very helpful.”
The five straight wins to start a season is the best by a Boston goalie since Tiny Thompson went 6-0-0 in his first six games of the 1937-38 season.
Added coach Claude Julien, “Solid again. I think we can’t say enough about the way he’s played. What I liked about his game too, you know, they had some shots from the point and he did a great job of not giving any rebounds. He kept those inside of him. I thought he did a great job of smothering those loose pucks and just solid challenging and confident.”
|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.
|Tyler Seguin’s fantastic adventure||07.10.10 at 10:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — The initiation of Tyler Seguin couldn’t have gone much better.
Fans turned out in record numbers at the team’s fourth annual summer development camp to see No. 57 in a yellow pinny skate in Bruins black and gold on the ice at Ristuccia Arena. [For the record, he’ll wear No. 19 when the real games begin].
He handled every media request flawlessly (see below for an example of that). He survived his first hockey test with an NHL organization. He was even matched up against the “veteran” of development camp, “Jumbo Joe” Colborne, who stands about 6-9 on skates, and handled himself with confidence and determination that showed Bruins executives like Don Sweeney that he might indeed be ready to compete for a spot on the big club this fall.
And most importantly, he made it through without any freak injuries and appears ready to get some R&R and come back in September and skate against the big boys.
“Obviously, I’m very excited,” the 18-year-old Seguin beamed. “This has been my dream my whole life to get this opportunity. It’s right around the corner, training camp, I’m going to come in here and work my hardest and hopefully, earn a spot.”
What’s the biggest lesson he’s learned in one week on the job?
“Here you have to be a professional,” Seguin answered. “This is a job. You’re trying to take other players’ jobs here and trying to get to the next level. I think it’s just the adjustment of how much bigger the players are here and I think it’s different than sometimes in the OHL, everyone here are 100 percent committed to their dream. It’s just a little bit different than what I’m used to. It’s just a whole other step.”
Still, there were moments for Seguin when he was reminded that he’s no longer with Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League in junior hockey but rather in the big time. Like on Thursday when he arrived at practice and already had a little fan.
“I thought it was pretty cool a little kid saying my name,” he said. “Other than that, there’s no special treatment here. Everyone is treated fair. I don’t think it matters if you go first round or fifth round, everyone coming in here has the same opportunity to earn their spot and that’s just what I’m trying to do.”
|Don Sweeney’s shining moment||at 7:39 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — These are proud times for Bruins assistant general manager Don Sweeney.
All one had to do was take one look at the massive crowd that turned out at tiny Ristuccia Arena here for the final day of the team’s week-long development camp for rookies and young prospects.
It was Sweeney who organized and ran the team’s first such off-season camp in July, 2007. He said after Saturday’s workout that the 2010 edition was another success, featuring star prospects Tyler Seguin and Joe Colborne.
“Not really comparing years here, I think we’re excited about the skill set we’ve gone out and identified and brought in,” Sweeney said. “Be it through the draft or through the acquisition side of it, I think, overall, our group should be proud and excited about the guys they’ve identified and brought in.
“Now, it’s time for the players to continue to get better and our coaching staff, who we feel teaches the game very, very well, and our management group, to continue to push these guys all forward. That includes our workout guys, everybody. You see all of our group here, from player personnel, to scouts, you can tell how much our organization is taking care of it and that comes from Peter [Chiarelli] and filters down.”
Under Sweeney, the team has brought the club’s top prospects to Ristuccia in advance of the main September training camp.
“Make no mistake about it, the ultimate goal is to produce the best NHL players we can,” Sweeney said. “The more we can build camaraderie and using that as an example of them understanding they have a chance to be teammates and be part of something where we hope to win.
Development camp gives the prospects the opportunity to get to know each other on and off the ice while teaching them the level of dedication and training necessary for them to reach the next stage of their careers.
“Ultimately, we’re just trying to win,” Sweeney said. “I hope with all my heart that these guys come in here and they grab a hold of it right from the get-go and the culture we’re trying to create and the momentum we have and they continue to push that forward and I think that helps in that regard.”
“We referenced earlier in the week where Joe Colborne had reached out to a number of these kids and gave them a little heads up. That’s the stuff we hope each and every one [understands]. Next year, it might be somebody else that reaches out to a young draft pick and so you’ve created that momentum and the culture that we’re hoping to continue to build going forward.”
Colborne was only too happy to help.
“These guys have been coming up to me the whole camp with questions,” Colborne said. “I’ve tried to be as welcoming as possible and make sure they all feel comfortable because I know what it feels to be a new guy coming in with no idea. So I’ve been up front with them, trying to give them the heads up on what the tougher parts of camp are, the things you’re going to have to learn and they’ve all taken it in stride and improved since the start of camp.”
One of the bonding activities that Colborne helped lead was a bowling outing on Thursday night.
But perhaps the biggest confirmation of Sweeney’s optimism came from Colborne, who just completed his third such development camp with the B’s.
“Right from Day 1, when we were doing the program with the Marines, that’s all they talked about was doing that extra little bit that will be the difference between winning a Stanley Cup championship or losing in Game 7 like we did this year,” the 20-year-old Colborne said.
“Obviously, you can tell the management is hungry. The guys like [David] Krejci have been back here and he’s ready to get going. It’s going to be a very hungry group next year and hopefully, I’ll be part of it.”
|B’s development camp ends on record note||at 2:13 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Judging by the crowd alone, the five-day Bruins development camp would be a rousing success. Over 1,200 fans turned out at Ristuccia Arena on Saturday as the entire seating section was filled with fans eager to get their first glimpse of top pick Tyler Seguin, along with other prospects Joe Colborne and Yuri Alexandrov.
The Bruins ran through drills and finished with an intrasquad scrimmage.
Two extra sections, normally reserved for Bruins staff and media, were opened to accommodate the overflow crowd that stretched out the door of the Wilmington practice facility.
“We had to let them into our little private area,” Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said with a proud smile. “It was great. They liked the show that was put on. They see the obvious skill out there and the depth of the guys. It’s great.”
Some other quick notes from Saturday’s wrap up:
* Of the 27 players at camp this week, eight will return to college this fall, while the others will prepare for the upcoming training camp, which begins on the same sheet of ice in early September.
* Assistant general manager Don Sweeney is looking for a little more conditioning from talented but young Russian defenseman Yuri Alexandrov, who just turned 22.
“Obviously, there’s a language barrier there and [there’s] cultural differences,” Sweeney said on Saturday. “Once he’s on the ice, he feels most comfortable and that’s a good thing. But there’ll be systematic things and nuances he’ll have to figure out.
“We’ve tried to attack that communication and tried to get better at it because there is a gap there. And the onus falls on him a little bit to understand that and immerse himself in that.”
This is the second development camp for Alexandrov, who was drafted in 2009 by the Bruins and played in the professional KHL league in Russia this past winter.
“You can tell when the game starts, his positional play, his understanding and his stick positioning is very, very good,” Sweeney said. “You can tell that’s been taught and built into his game. When you play against bigger and stronger players, you have to develop those techniques and he’s done that.
“To be honest with you, and something we’re communicating with him, I didn’t think he was in quite as good a shape as he was the year before so that’s got to be something he’ll have to attack and address between now and September to realize that he continues to push forward. I would tell all the kids that. I’m not going to single him out for any particular reason, except that the facts are what they are.”
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