|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Brad Marchand ‘running out of race track pretty fast’||11.21.13 at 2:22 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss the Bruins’ upcoming game against the Blues, the recent struggles of Brad Marchand, as well as other news from across the NHL.
Boston have been rolling as of late, winning six out of its last seven games. Despite the dominant run in November, some members of the Bruins have been slumping, namely Marchand. The 25-year-old winger has yet to really find his bearings so far this year, as he has seen a dip in his production (eight points in 21 games) while increasing his turnovers and penalties. Bruins coach Claude Julien‘s frustration with Marchand has become apparent over the last few days, as Marchand was demoted to the fourth line during Monday night’s 4-1 win over Carolina.
“[Marchand's] just going through tough times right now as a player on the ice and he’s not helping himself at all,” McGuire said. “He is running out of race track pretty fast in terms of some of his decision-making.”
The Bruins will have a tough task in their next game, as they will face off against the Blues, who hold the third seed in the Western Conference with a 14-3-3 record. St. Louis, off to its best 20-game start in franchise history, has gotten a big boost from Alexander Steen, who leads the NHL with 17 goals.
“[St. Louis] learned a lot from their first-round loss to Los Angeles last year, where it was just a battle of attrition,” McGuire said. It was just unbelievably savage the entire series and obviously Steen is off to a great start. It’s the depth of their team. … they remind me so much of the Boston Bruins. They really do.The teams are so similar. … This is a great game you guys are going to have tonight. Unbelievable game.”
Elsewhere in the NHL, a former Bruin’s play is starting to attract attention, as Panthers goaltender Tim Thomas has been viewed as a possible candidate to the U.S. Olympic team. Thomas has bounced back from a poor start to post solid numbers over the last month (2.49 goals-against average, .915 save percentage in November).
“He’s definitely worked his way back into the discussion, I can tell you that right now,” McGuire said. “He’s back into the discussion, that doesn’t mean that he’s going to make the team. One of the reasons why he’s back in the discussion, the injury to Jonathan Quick, who won’t be back until December, maybe even not until the middle of December. The other thing is Craig Anderson and Jimmy Howard have both been lukewarm … and Cory Schneider is sitting on the bench in New Jersey behind Martin Brodeur.”
|Claude Julien: Tim Thomas wouldn’t have won Stanley Cup without Bruins||11.07.13 at 12:46 pm ET|
Tim Thomas won’t play Thursday against the Bruins as he rehabs a lower-body injury, but Claude Julien kept the Thomas-Bruins story alive with a very honest take on Thomas’ legacy Thursday.
Responding to a question about the line of thinking that the Bruins wouldn’t have won the Stanley Cup in 2011 without Thomas, Julien corrected the record by noting that it’s important people understand that Thomas had an easier job than most goalies.
“They’re right, but Tim Thomas doesn’t win the Stanley Cup if our team doesn’t play as well it did in front of him,” Julien said. “This is an honest statement. Tim played well, but I think our team played just as well in front of him. You don’t win the Stanley Cup just with a goaltender. He won the Conn Smythe because he was very good, but I would like to hope that the statistics of your goaltenders can also reflect the team in front of you.
“We did a pretty good job in front of him for years, minimizing the goal-scoring chances and the quality of them. Let’s make sure we don’t take credit away from the rest of the team, too. He was a big part of it, and so were a lot of other guys, but at the same time, we won the Stanley Cup because we were a good team. That’s what I like to think, anyways.”
Thomas had a 2.00 goals-against average in the 2010-11 regular season with a then-NHL-record .938 save-percentage. That performance earned him his second Vezina Trophy, while his 1.98 GAA and .940 save-percentage helped the B’s to a Stanley Cup victory in which he was the recipient of the Conn Smythe.
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|Tim Thomas puts blame on Bruins for leaking his plans||10.17.13 at 11:20 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — Tim Thomas finally spoke to the Boston media Thursday night, as he fielded questions about his time with and exit from the B’s after allowing three goals in a 3-2 Boston win at BB&T Center.
The biggest takeaway from Thomas was that he felt the Bruins forced his hand regarding his year-long disappearance from hockey last season. Thomas’ side of the story Thursday was that he told the Bruins he was just considering sitting out the season — saying that he felt he wouldn’t have to decide about his future until after the lockout — but that the Bruins leaked it, forcing him to commit to not playing last season.
“I told the Bruins, gave them a heads-up that I’m considering it, and it was supposed to be kept on the down-low, and it became public,” he said. “I didn’t want anything to become public. I was pretty sure there was a lockout coming up and I didn’t have to make a decision for quite a long period of time. I was kind of forced into a corner.”
Here is everything that Thomas had to say about his time in Boston:
On his lasting perception of his experience with the Bruins:
“There’s no one thing. It’s the whole thing together. It was an awesome time there. I don’t know what else to say. It’s a new chapter in my life, it’s a new chapter for them. I’m not giving a good answer because I can’t.”
On if he regrets how things ended:
“No. I made a decision based on what was best for me and my family. I felt that the team was in capable hands. I knew where Tuukka was at in his development, and I was obviously proven right. So I went and did something that was incredible for my life and for my family’s life, and I don’t regret it. That’s the most important thing.”
On when he decided to take a year off:
“I had obviously thought about it during the season, but I didn’t know for sure any time. I even trained all the way through the beginning of the season last year just in case it gets to the week before the season and all of a sudden the itch comes back.
“Actually, I told the Bruins, gave them a heads up that I’m considering it, and it was supposed to be kept on the down-low, and it became public. I didn’t want anything to become public. I was pretty sure there was a lockout coming up and I didn’t have to make a decision for quite a long period of time. I was kind of forced into a corner.”
|Adam McQuaid a healthy scratch vs. Panthers||at 7:24 pm ET|
SUNRISE, Fla. — In a season in which Claude Julien swears no defenseman is safe from a healthy scratch, the first eye-opening one is upon us. Adam McQuaid will sit vs. the Panthers, as Matt Bartkowski will stay in the lineup for a third straight game, while Dougie Hamilton will make his return to the lineup after sitting out the last two.
The Bruins lineup, per warmups, is as follows:
Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Smith – Bergeron – Eriksson
Marchand – Kelly – Caron
Paille – Campbell – Thornton
Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Seidenberg
Krug – Boychuk
Rask is obviously facing Tim Thomas as the two-time Vezina-winner and longtime Bruin will face his former team for the first time since leaving them prior to last season. Rask and Thomas, who got along well in their time as teammates, chatted with one another for about 30 seconds at center ice during warmup, as is documented by this horrible photo.
NESN commentator Andy Brickley joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday to discuss the Bruins’ Thursday night game against the Panthers and former Boston goaltender Tim Thomas, as well as Jarome Iginla‘s scoring drought and Brad Marchand‘s demotion to the third line.
Thursday’s game will be the first time that the Bruins will face off against Thomas, who played in Boston for eight seasons and won two Vezina Trophies (2009, 2011) as the league’s best goaltender during his tenure with the team. Thomas is best remembered for his incredible play in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, winning the Conn Smythe Trophy after posting a .967 save percentage in the Stanley Cup finals against the Canucks.
After the Bruins were eliminated in the first round of the 2012 playoffs by the Capitals, Thomas announced that he was going to sit out the 2012-13 season. Still under contract with the Bruins during his hiatus, Thomas was traded to the Islanders on Feb. 7, 2013. The 39-year-old goalie then signed a contract with the Panthers on Sept. 26.
Brickey said that Thursday’s game certainly will be interesting, adding that the Bruins are motivated to hand their old teammate another loss on the young season.
“If anything you can [see] from the morning skate, [Thomas] looked good, he looked healthy, he looked pretty focused,” Brickley said. “He looks healthy and ready to go. Those numbers are a little inflated obviously with a little rust from taking the year off and then having to deal with an injury, but you know him and his competitiveness, he’ll be ready to go tonight.
“I don’t know if I would term [the Bruins' mood towards Thomas] as animosity. The general sense that I get from being around the guys and certainly this morning is that this is a game that they want to win, but whatever personal reasons or whatever feelings they have for Tim Thomas, this is not a love-in. … This is a guy and a team that we want to beat, and want to beat real bad.”