|Should Tuukka Rask be playing more?||10.25.11 at 8:44 pm ET|
An interesting point was raised regarding Bruins goaltending during Peter Chiarelli‘s conference call with the media Tuesday. Remember when the Bruins said their intention was to play Tuukka Rask more than last season, especially early on?
Rask has started just two games this season, allowing one goal to Avalanche in the B’s 1-0 loss in the third game of the season, and allowing four goals last Tuesday against the Hurricanes. As was the case last season, Tim Thomas has been the No. 1 guy by a large margin as far as starts goes.
“In fairness to Tuukka, he probably should have gotten another start here or there, but you see Tim, how he’s playing, and you want him to recapture some of the stuff that he had last year,” Chiarelli said. “‘¦ What I see and observe is we’ve had had discussions on the goaltender situation. I think in the end you’ll see it go into line with what he originally put out there.”
The upcoming home-and-home with the Canadiens should be interesting when it comes to splitting up goaltending duties, should they go in that direction. If Rask starts Thursday and Thomas starts Saturday, Thomas will have gone a week without playing. Rask has gone a week since his last start as it is, and his last game in Montreal wasn’t pretty for anyone, perhaps with the exception of Lars Eller.
Rask started 27 games last season, posting an 11-14-2 record, 2.67 goals against average, and .918 save percentage. Thomas started the rest of the games, going 35-11-9 in his second Vezina-winning season. He had a 2.00 GAA set the NHL single-season record with a .938 save percentage.
|Bruins still searching for consistency||at 1:48 pm ET|
With the Bruins having another day off Tuesday, they figure to be well-rested and refreshed when they face the Canadiens at TD Garden on Thursday. The contest, the first game of a home-and-home, will be their first game in five days, with ideal result being wins in Boston and Montreal to mark their first two-game winning streak of the season.
Consistency has been a major issue for the Bruins through eight games (3-5-0). Each win has been followed with a loss or two, and the team will need to win both games against Montreal to even be .500 in the month’s first season.
It’s for that reason that, while the time off is good for the Bruins, they’re hungry to return to game action. While this week can provide rest and an opportunity to correct mistakes, Tim Thomas and the B’s are eager to face the Habs and pick up some points.
“I don’t think a break can help you with [consistency],” Thomas said Monday. “That’s got to come when you’re playing. It can help prepare you to get to that level of consistency when you start to play, but you can’t build consistency when you’re not playing a game.”
Three of the Bruins’ five losses have come against teams that currently do not have winning records, while the B’s have allowed as many goals as they’ve scored (19).
“We’re not too far out,” Thomas said. “We’re not getting completely dominated. We’re just making mistakes and not scoring enough. We’re right there, but with this league, every game is a battle. Every game is a very tight game. We had a whole year of tight games last year and a whole playoffs of tight games, for the most part. It’s the same thing this year.”
|Tim Thomas: Struggling Bruins can’t simply expect success based on last season||10.24.11 at 1:36 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — One of the bad things about returning so many players from a Stanley Cup champion team is that the next year’s squad will always be compared to, well, itself.
Maybe that’s one reason as to why Bruins fans are puzzled by the B’s 3-5-0 start to the season. Through eight games last year, the B’s were 6-2-0 with a plus-13 goal differential and three shutouts, all of which were registered by Tim Thomas. This season, they’re allowed as many goals (19) as they’ve scored, good for an even differential.
So with so many of the same guys yielding such different results, how do the Bruins explain it, and how do they respond?
“It’s a different year, different challenge,” Thomas said. “We’re in a different spot. It’s how we react to it that’s going to be the key.
“All last year, no matter what type of adversity was thrown our way, we reacted well. That’s part of what made up our identity as a team by the time the playoffs came around.”
It’s hard to imagine the Bruins continuing to play sub-.500 hockey for much longer, but to expect things to turn around is no better than expecting the Bruins to have repeated their start from a season ago. Thomas recalls the Bruins making their own luck right out of the gate last year, so he isn’t counting on things simply coming to the defending champs because of past success.
“We have to try to build that same thing this year. It’s not just there,” Thomas explained. “You don’t get it because you had it last year. You’ve got to build it again.”
|Five stats on the Bruins through five games||10.17.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
Five games into last season, one could hardly tell the Bruins were going to be Stanley Cup champions, but a couple of things were apparent. For starters, it was clear that Tim Thomas was capable of playing at a high level again after his offseason hip surgery, and it seemed that Nathan Horton had it in him to play some big games for the B’s.
Now five games into this season, there are a few things that are apparent about this team, though injuries to the likes of David Krejci and Adam McQuaid have made it tough to effectively gauge some things.
The Bruins started off the season in a 1-3-0 funk, but may be coming out of it after their 3-2 shootout victory over the Blackhawks Saturday in Chicago. Up next is a four-game home stand with the Hurricanes, Maple Leafs, Sharks and Canadiens coming to town.
“I feel we’re turning the corner here,” coach Claude Julien said Monday of the team after five games. “I liked our game in Chicago, the way we progressed through tut the day. Today in practice we seemed to have a much better pace. Hopefully that’s a good sign of us turning the corner.”
Here are five quick stats on the Bruins through five games, with a look at last season as well.
1. Tyler Seguin leads the Bruins with five points, which is a little less than a quarter of his 22 points from all of last season. He also leads the team with a plus-3 rating and has 16 shots on goal, good for tops amongst forwards and second only to defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.
2. Last season, Horton led the team with seven points through five games. This season, he has a goal and an assist through five contests, struggling mightily in the first few games of the season before seemingly finding himself of late. Bottom-six forwards Gregory Campbell, Chris Kelly and Jordan Caron (who has only played in three games) are the only Bruins’ forwards with less than his five shots on goal.
3. Thomas has won two and lost two this season, allowing eight goals in four games. Five games into last season, Thomas had allowed three goals in four games, and had won all four of his starts. He picked up his first shutout in the second game of the 2010-11 season and went on to have two more by the end of the month.
4. Bruins were 4-for-19 on the power play through five games last season. This season, they are 1-for-21, as they have not scored on the man advantage since Brad Marchand scored on the team’s first power play of the season.
5. Seidenberg leads the B’s in ice time with an average of 25:26 a night yet also has a minus-2 rating that is tied for worst on the team. Further proof that plus-minus rarely tells the whole story.
|Tim Thomas gets ‘first win out of the way’ and looks great doing it||10.08.11 at 11:23 pm ET|
No it wasn’t a shutout for Tim Thomas on Saturday night but in stopping 25 of 26 shots from the Lightning, he certainly showed he has the capability of replicating his historic year of a season ago.
Thomas made all the big saves, especially when the game was in doubt helping the Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Lightning team they edged in seven hard-fought games in last spring’s Eastern finals. And it served as a nice bounce back after dropping the season-opener on Thursday to the Flyers.
“You get the first win out of the way so kind of get the monkey off of our backs to get the season back in the direction we wanted to be going,” Thomas said.
“I felt just as comfortable the first night. Both teams we played during the playoffs so semi-familiar, even though there’s some new faces on both teams. Both general systems are the same and I felt comfortable right off the bat the other night and I felt good tonight. But the team had a good game in front of me tonight. We put a lot of shots on goal, found ways to get pucks in the net with a great penalty kill. A lot of good efforts out there all over the place.”
To Claude Julien, the performance of his goalie was solid when the game called for it and spectacular when needed.
“To me, Timmy looked more like the Timmy we know,” Julien said. “He looked calm, and he looked comfortable in net, and he made things look pretty easy. Even on the big saves, he was challenging well. To me, that’s as close to last year as I’ve seen Timmy. He certainly played a solid game for us.”
But, without question, the save he made on Teddy Purcell from the low slot on a one-timer was the save of the game. The Bruins were leading 2-1 early in the third when Purcell had a clean look and appeared to have an open side to Thomas’ right. Thomas slid over before falling to the ice and making the big save just 1:44 into the third.
“The [puck] was passed through the slot and whoever it was did a good job of tipping it over to Purcell,” Thomas said. “So, I was actually originally just on the first pass and I had to scramble to get over to the second pass, which is why I sort of made the save while I was falling down.”
Just over a minute later, David Krejci scored at the other end. Bruins up, 3-1. Game, set, match.
“I think any goaltender, in those key situations, that makes those kinds of saves is certainly going to give your team a boost, and Tim has done that for us on numerous occasions throughout his time here,” Julien said. “I’m not saying we’re used to it but we like it.”
“I’m not thinking of one big save,” Thomas said. “I’m thinking I have to make some saves, basically, [because] you never want to give the other team a sniff. We’ve learned our lessons over the years. I remember a game where we were up three goals with three minutes left against St. Louis and they tied it up and won in overtime. So, that was quite a few years ago now but that happened to us last year a few times where teams came back on us late. You’ve got to play the full 60 minutes That’s what we learned last year.”
And last year turned out pretty well thanks, in large part to Thomas and the lessons learned.
|Claude Giroux and the Flyers took the banner as a ‘slap in the face’||10.07.11 at 2:08 am ET|
Claude Giroux is one of the holdovers from the Flyers team that was dispatched by the Bruins and then dismantled in the summer. These Flyers who traded captain Mike Richards and Jeff Carter have been remade. But Giroux was on that team last spring and he remembered how it felt last May when the Bruins sent them packing.
He also watched as the Bruins used that four-game sweep as a springboard to the Stanley Cup title they celebrated Thursday night with a banner-raising ceremony.
“Coming to a game here, especially the first game of the season when they are raising the banner, it’s a slap in the face and its motivation for a little payback even though it’s the first game of the season,” Giroux said. “It’s good for our ego and everybody was ready to go tonight.”
Giroux put his money where he mouth was by scoring a power play goal with less than two minutes left in the first. That was followed a minute late by a goal from Jakub Voracek. On Giroux’s goal it was another newcomer who played a big role – Jaromir Jagr – who fed a speeding Giroux down the slot.
“Yeah I think that he saw that I had speed,” Giroux said. “I don’t really remember what happened, it happened so quick. I made the inside move and I was able to beat that defenseman and take it to the net.”
It’s just one game but the Bruins’ sweep in May netted a lot of change in Philly, including Ilya Bryzgalov, the new $30 million goalie for the Flyers. And for one night, it paid off for Philly.
“I mean everyone was pretty excited and nervous and it turned out great,” Giroux said. “Obviously Bryz had the key saves at the end to make sure we got that win.”
|Inside the Locker Room: Opening Night||at 12:14 am ET|