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Tim Thomas on shootout win: ‘We needed that immensely’ 03.17.12 at 9:44 pm ET
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All eyes were on Tim Thomas on Saturday.

Of all the Bruins with plenty to prove entering the St. Patrick’s Day matinee against the Flyers, the Bruins goalie was at the top of the list.
So, when he turned away Danny Briere on the shot of the shootout, earning the Bruins a 3-2 win before an electric TD Garden house, he raised his arms out of celebration and relief.

“Yeah, I think it was very important, we needed that immensely,” Thomas said. “We needed to show up and have a good game at home. Things haven’t been going our way. That’s a polite way of saying it lately. To battle out tonight and come up with a good, solid strong game at home and pull out with two points, is hopefully very big for us moving down the road.”

The Bruins stuggles of the last two months have been well documented. They were manhandled in all three losses on the road this week, outscored 17-5 in losses in Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay and Florida. Overall, they had lost four straight coming in. Thomas started three of those four games and was pulled in the loss in Pittsburgh.

Saturday, he was a different goalie. He stopped Eric Wellwood on a shorthanded blast midway through the first. Moments later he denied superstar Jaromir Jagr with his right pad, as he tried to beat Thomas to the far side. Then, in the final 30 seconds of regulation, with the Flyers sensing a dramatic come-from-behind win in regulation, Thomas battened down the hatches as Philly unloaded cannon shot after cannon shot.

Thomas said his confidence wasn’t shaken this week but the saves early, especially on Jagr, didn’t hurt.

“I wasn’t feeling unconfident going into it, I know there was that first bouncy shot at the beginning of the game, but heck I don’t trust the bounces right now,” Thomas said. “That’s natural I think. But the save on Jagr, it did help to boost my confidence more than it already was.”

Speaking of bounces, that all that beat Thomas on Saturday in regulation as Matt Read and Jakub Voracek redirected shots that Thomas had little-to-no chance of stopping. Then came the last 30 seconds.

“I wasn’t sure of the clock exactly, I knew we were getting down towards the end of the game,” he said. “I just didn’t want bad luck to strike again, and at that point we’re just playing for one point to make it to overtime. You don’t want a real good effort like that to go to waste. So, I was just focused on making it through the end, I didn’t know if there were 30 seconds or a minute left.”

Thomas said his mindset didn’t change in the shootout either.

“I was actually too focused on trying to figure out what my approach was going to be to the shootout,” said Thomas, who allowed goals to Read and Claude Giroux before stopping Briere in the shootout. “I played Jagr a certain way on the breakaway during the game so my plan going into the shootout was to go out and play the other guys like that. But that didn’t work, but it was great to see ours keep going in. After the second one, I kind of changed up what I do and I came way out to [Danny] Briere, I think I went all the way out to the hash marks to try and give him a different look and try to make him think what the heck’s he doing.”

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Bruins lose fourth straight, fall to Panthers 03.15.12 at 10:10 pm ET
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Milan Lucic takes a hit from Panthers center Marcel Goc during Thursday's game. (AP)

The Bruins set the table for the Senators to knock them into seventh place, falling to the Panthers, 6-2, Thursday in Sunrise, Fla.

The B’s have lost four straight games, which makes for their longest losing streak of the season. Their lead in the Northeast Division is down to one point, and the Senators will have a chance to leapfrog the Bruins when they host the last-place Canadiens Friday.

The Senators jumped out to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Mickael Samuelsson and Marcel Goc in the first two periods. Joe Corvo brought the B’s within one with his fourth goal of the year, but second-period tallies from Stephen Weiss and John Madden gave the Panthers a three-goal lead entering the third period. Brian Rolston scored his first goal since coming back to the Bruins when he beat Jose Theodore at 1:44 of the third period with a power-play goal. Later in the period, a Chris Kelly pass that went off Zdeno Chara‘s foot bounced right onto the stick of Tomas Kopecky, with the Panthers forward slamming it home to make it a 5-2 game. Wojtek Wolski made it a half-dozen for Florida.

Tim Thomas played in his 11th straight game, allowing all six Panthers goals and taking the loss. He has allowed at least three goals in five of his last six starts.

The B’s return to action Saturday at TD Garden, hosting the Flyers.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Brad Marchand has remained whisper quiet for the B’s, as the second-line winger has just a goal and an assist over his last 10 games. The Bruins need to get a lot of their guys going, and Marchand’s right at the top of that list. Between the injuries and the fact that the B’s are in a race for the division, now isn’t the time for Marchand to cool off.

– Thursday marked the seventh consecutive game in which the Bruins allowed the first goal, and 10th time in their last 12 games. They have also allowed the first two goals in four straight games. If the Bruins want to start winning games, playing from behind isn’t exactly the key.

– Along those same lines, the first period has been rough for the Bruins of late. The second period seemed to be the team’s Achilles’ heel for a stretch, but the B’s have been outscored 14-3 in the first period over their last seven games.

– While Jordan Caron played well skating on the first line with David Krejci and Milan Lucic, the other two did not. Krejci and Lucic failed to register a shot on goal on the night, while Caron put two pucks on net and saw his hard work along the boards result in Rolston’s goal. Caron certainly has been strong for the Bruins of late, but the problem is that few have joined him.

– This losing streak has been bad enough for the B’s, but you’d have to go back over two years to January of 2010 to find the last time the Bruins went four straight games without a single point.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

The months of November and December.

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Rich Peverley skates for first time since injury, Tim Thomas gets start vs. Panthers at 12:06 pm ET
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Bruins coach Claude Julien told reporters in Florida Thursday that forward Rich Peverley, who has been out since Feb. 15 with an MCL sprain, returned to the ice Wednesday in Boston for the first time since suffering his injury.

Peverley was expected to miss 4-6 weeks at the time of the injury. In 49 games this season, he has nine goals and 29 assists for 38 points.

Julien also said that Tim Thomas will be the starting goaltender Thursday vs. the Panthers. Thomas has played in 10 consecutive games, but has played 20 minutes or less in each of the last two Bruins contests.

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Bruins taking ‘baby steps’ in right direction toward playoffs 03.09.12 at 11:49 am ET
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The mere suggestion by the toughest Bruin evokes laughter.

But when Shawn Thornton said the Bruins are starting to take “baby steps” in the right direction following the team’s 3-1 win over the Sabres Thursday night, he was making no joke.

“I’m more concerned about how we are playing,” Thornton said. “I think that Rangers game we could have very easily won. I think the way we have been playing for the last week or so is the style of play you’re used to seeing from us. As long as we keep putting up efforts and everyone is showing up every night, the wins will come with those performances.”

The inability to win back-to-back games had become a sort of unintentional comedic relief for the Bruins as they grind toward the playoffs, wondering how they’re going to cope without Tuukka Rask for at least a month and how they’re going to position themselves as they get ready for a title defense.

“It seems to be for a lot of people, and I think it’s the same for us,” Claude Julien said after the 3-1 win over the Sabres, giving the Bruins consecutive wins for the first time since early January. “We’ve been obviously battling with our consistency, and even though this is our first back-to-back win in a long time, I think the fact I was encouraged by our play in New York and it’s just kept coming along in the next game.

“Obviously winning, and then again tonight a pretty decent effort. I think that’s what we’re looking for now as more a consistent effort and hopefully they turn into wins. When you got the amount of injuries you have, you take every win for what they are and [Thursday] was a good win for us.”

Now, with the playoff race in the East tightening, the Bruins realize they need to stop messing around and get in playoff mode.

“Well, we have to, right? We’ve been forced into it by apparently not winning back-to-back games since January 10th through 12th, or whatever it was, and also, just the standings are getting tighter so we’re getting forced into a playoff mode, which is probably a good thing for us,” Bruins goalie Tim Thomas said.

The Bruins have 83 points, which is good for first in the Northeast. But, consider that point total would tie them for third in the Atlantic with No. 5 seed Philadelphia and you see Thomas’ point. Ottawa, which has played three more games, is only three points behind. Win the division and the Bruins almost certainly will be the No. 2 seed behind the Rangers. Finish second and the B’s could wind up anywhere from fifth through seventh.

“It is a baby step, for sure,” David Krejci said of Thursday’s win. “We finally won two in a row. It’s been a while. It feels good. I feel like, especially the last three games, it started in New York, we played really good hockey. We keep playing the way we have, the wins will come.”

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Bruins finally win two in a row, defeat Sabres 03.08.12 at 9:29 pm ET
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Bruins forward Brian Rolston chases after a clear from Sabres goalie Johnas Enroth in Thursday's game. (AP)

It took the Bruins long enough, but they finally won their second game in a row thanks to Thursday’s 3-1 win over the Sabres. The victory marked the first time in 26 games that the B’s have won back-to-back contests.

Jason Pominville gave the Sabres the lead in the first period when he beat Tim Thomas with a rocket over the veteran netminder’s glove. Gregory Campbell tied the game in the second, redirecting a Shawn Thornton slap shot past Buffalo starter Jhonas Enroth. Johnny Boychuk gave the B’s the lead in the third period with his fourth goal of the season, with David Krejci providing insurance at 15:52.

Thomas made 19 saves on 20 shots faced. The game was the seventh consecutive contest in which Thomas has played.

The Bruins will host the Capitals Saturday as they go for their — get this — third straight win.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

Claude Julien called for more secondary scoring after Saturday’s loss to the Islanders, and for the third straight game since, he got it. After Jordan Caron dominated Sunday and Tuesday as a third-liner (three goals, two assists over the two games), it was the fourth line that chipped in with the equalizer in the second period. A Buffalo turnover left the puck waiting for Thornton to fire on not, and Campbell got a piece of it to tie the game. The goal was Campbell’s seventh of the season.

– Speaking of Caron, Julien switched Caron and Brian Rolston, putting Caron with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron on the second line and Rolston with Chris Kelly and Benoit Pouliot. Rolston hasn’t made enough of a statement to earn top-six minutes since coming over in a trade from the Islanders last week, and it’s good for Julien to reward Caron for his improved play of late.

In picking up the assist on Boychuk’s goal, Caron extended his point streak to three games. The 21-year-old has three goals and three assists over his last three contests.

– The B’s new top line of David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Tyler Seguin has produced at least one goal in all five games since Julien put the trio together. Krejci has five goals over the last five games, while Seguin has four and Lucic has one. Some quick arithmetic shows that the members of the line have totaled 10 goals over their last five contests.

– The Bruins outscored their opponent in the second period for the third consecutive game. As has been well-documented, the Bruins have not been a good second-period team over the difficult stretch they’ve found themselves in since mid-January, but they have outscored their opponents 6-2 in the second over the last three games.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Greg Zanon was made a healthy scratch for the first time since debuting with the B’s last week. Julien spoke highly of Zanon Thursday morning, calling him “sturdy” for the Bruins in his first four games with the Bruins, but the truth is that Zanon’s had a rough go of it since his debut. Zanon impressed in his first game with the B’s last Thursday, handling everything that was thrown his way and adapting to new partners as the team twice went to a five-man rotation. Since then, he’s had a rough time for the Bruins, having multiple flubs in front of Tim Thomas’ net, knocking a puck in and posting a minus-4 rating over his last three games. He was one of just two Bruins (Thornton being the other) to have a minus rating (minus-1) in Tuesday’s 5-4 win over the Maple Leafs.

Mike Mottau played in Zanon’s place, skating on pairing with Adam McQuaid.

– Bergeron and Marchand have both gone the last six games without a goal. The second line is one that’s effective for its prowess in all three zones, but the B’s need two of their better forwards in Bergeron and Marchand to get going.

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Andrew Ference on D&C: David Krejci ‘a completely different player when he’s feeling good’ 03.02.12 at 10:56 am ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to discuss Thursday night’s overtime victory over the Devils and his take on the dynamics of the team as the result of moves before the trade deadline.

Coach Claude Julien shuffled the lines Thursday night, putting David Krejci with Tyler Seguin and Milan Lucic. The line responded with all four B’s goals, including a Krejci hat trick.

“It’s pretty tough to break them up after that,” Ference said. “The good thing about that — you’re happy to see anybody score and get some goals going, but especially Dave. He’s a completely different player when he’s feeling good, got that confidence going. It transforms him when he’s got a smile on his face, when he’s not as frustrated when he’s not scoring.”

Ference took only three shifts in the third period Thursday after suffering what Julien referred to as a lower-body injury. Despite his injury, Ference kept a positive attitude, praising the team’s efforts, especially goalie Tim Thomas, for pulling out the win. Asked if credit for the team’s success belongs more to Thomas or the defense, Ference said it’s a combination of the two.

“It’s like when last year, we talked about winning. No one guy could have won without the other; we’re not that kind of team,” Ference said. “Obviously Timmy was unbelievable, but without our system and without the way we play, we don’t win and vice versa. I think we have a great system and all that, but without Timmy playing the way he does, we don’t get it.”

The Bruins landed center Brian Rolston and defenseman Mike Mottau from the Islanders and defenseman Greg Zanon from the Wild minutes before the NHL trade deadline.

“I like what we did,” Ference said. “Obviously you can see there’s injuries at this time of year and you need those guys that have that experience to step in, instead of just throwing a rookie to the wolves that’s never played before, then expect him to just jump in at this time of year is pretty tough.”

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Andrew Ference on D&C: Tim Thomas ‘trying not to be a distraction’ 02.10.12 at 11:18 am ET
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Andrew Ference

Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning and spent some time addressing the issue of whether Tim Thomas‘ political statements have become a distraction to the team.

The Bruins have struggled to a 5-6-1 record since Thomas ignited the controversy by skipping the team’s trip to the White House on Jan. 23. Thomas on Thursday told the media that he would not answer questions about politics any more.

“I think when he doesn’t want to talk about it in the locker room, I think he’s trying to not be a distraction,” Ference said. “Like I said, in this city you definitely have to be aware of the fact that whether you like it or not, your comments and your actions are going to be scrutinized. And to a certain extent, rightfully so. We’re compensated very well to be sports figures in this town, which also comes with a certain responsibility socially.”

Added Ference: “He makes the views pretty clear. I don’t think he leaves too many blank spaces for people to guess where he stands. So, it’s his choice whether to answer or not. I think he makes it more difficult on himself not to just talk about it if he’s going to put it out there. But for us as teammates, it’s really not that difficult. Like I said, we know him. We can kind of just keep our mouths shut about it because nobody really wants to wade into that. I don’t know, it’s a mixed bag, I guess.”

Ference insisted that it doesn’t really matter what Thomas or anyone says, that it comes down to how the Bruins perform on the ice.

“We do have a tight team,” Ference said. “One of the things that makes us pretty strong is we’re very understanding of each other’s differences. … You’re never going to have the same opinions whatsoever. But the thing that makes teams good is their ability to look beyond that and respect each other even if you don’t agree with each other. Our job first and foremost isn’t to be buddies. It’s to be good teammates and play hard for each other and do whatever you can to win hockey games. That’s the most important thing. Good teams and good players realize that, and they can separate the fact that they agree with somebody or not about politics. It really doesn’t matter once you hit the ice.”

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