|Video: Inside the Bruins locker Room, Game 1||04.14.11 at 11:02 pm ET|
|The legend of the Bruins jacket and Darth Quaider||at 12:38 pm ET|
When Milan Lucic scored his 30th goal of the season last month, he shocked many, and it had nothing to do with the fact that nobody expected him to reach the 30-goal mark.
Instead, it was his wardrobe choice that came off as perplexing. It was March 22, and it was the debut of the now famous Bruins jacket.
The jacket, a worn-out windbreaker seemingly from the late 80′s or early 90′s, was brought into the Bruins’ dressing room by Andrew Ference. Since Lucic debuted the windbreaker, it has been worn by a variety of differnt players in post-game interviews, with it signifying that the player wearing it was crucial to the team’s success. The list has included Daniel Paille and Zdeno Chara, and though it’s a bit snug on the 6-foot-9 captain, Ference isn’t concerned.
“Tough luck for him,” Ference said of Chara with a laugh. “He shouldn’t be so big. It’s not our fault.”
Ference said Thursday morning that he bought the jacket on eBay. He frequents the auction site, and was happy to pick up the jacket for the B’s room to keep the players loose. He did note that the jacket may not be worn by the best player every night, noting that “Timmy [Thomas] would hog it all the time.”
To those seeing the players interviewed the disgusting threads, the purpose of jacket may be confusing, but Ference sees it as just another sign of how close-knit a group this Bruins team is.
“You’ll drive yourself crazy if you don’t have fun,” Ference said. “It’s not just this time of year. This time of year is intense, so you need a release, but it’s a long year. When people talk about camaradie and a good dressing room, I think the value of a good dressing room comes at this time of year.
“At the end of 82 games, you’ve spent a lot of time together. If you don’t have camaraderie and a good vibe in the room, you’re sick of each other. I’ve been on teams where you are kind of sick of each other. ‘¦Chemistry is a very important thing.”
Now in his 11th season, Ference has been around a few locker rooms in his time. The former Penguin and Flame knows what it takes to cultivate the right chemistry, and he feels the Bruins are doing it right.
“It’s been good here for years, but I think it’s like a marriage. It takes work,” he said. “You have to make sure that theirs a certain attitude. The biggest thing we’ve done in this locker room is just the inclusion of everybody, whether it’s the rookies or the older guys, or the Europeans or the Canadians.
“Everybody goes out together. The benchmark is you can literally see any person in the room and go out with them for dinner on the road, and it wouldn’t be weird. That’s not normal. I’ve been on teams where there was a cliquiness with certain groups. Literally, around the room, everybody’s been out for dinner with each other and hangs out together. It’s not forced. It’s really good. It’s really nice.”
It shouldn’t come as a surprise that Ference found the jacket on eBay, as he certainly has a history of getting his clothing online. Back in February, Ference strutted through the B’s dressing room at Ristuccia Arena rocking a “Darth Quaider” shirt that he customized online. The shirt, an homage to fellow defenseman Adam McQuaid, was certainly clever, but he can’t take credit for it.
Turns out the inspiration for the shirt came from his daughter. Prior to the season, she called Milan Lucic “Looch Skywalker.” From there, a Stars Wars-themed nicknaming frenzy began, with “Darth Quaider” sticking for McQuaid.
|Tim Thomas on breaking ‘hero’ Dominik Hasek’s record: ‘That number is a team number’||04.09.11 at 5:04 pm ET|
Tim Thomas finally admitted after Saturday’s game that he had been thinking about the numbers, but with numbers like his, how could you blame him? Making his final start of the season Saturday, Thomas stopped 31 of 32 shots faced en route to breaking Dominik Hasek‘s single-season record for save percentage.
“To be completely honest, I had a hard time getting it off my mind over the past week or so,” Thomas said after the game. “Actually, I mentally prepared myself yesterday not to think about that and to play [so much], that I think I’m still in that mode a little bit. It hasn’t affected me. It hasn’t set in yet.”
It’s been a career year for the 36-year-old netminder, and to cap the regular season by surpassing Hasek’s mark from 1998-99 Vezina-winning campaign is only fitting. The two reckless goaltenders play similar styles, and Thomas remembers being inspired by Hasek.
Back when Hasek was racking up his .9366 mark, the best since the stat began being recorded in 1982-83, Thomas was spending his time both in Hamilton (AHL) and Finland. It was only a few years prior that the Michigan native was playing college hockey at Vermont.
“I certainly watched him when I was in college and was trying to pick things up off of him,” he said. “I didn’t try to emulate my style after him. I still have my own style. But I didn’t see some of the things that he does that I thought I could apply to my game and probably over the years it became part of my game too.
“I’ll be honest, Dominik Hasek was a hero of mine back when I was in college. A guy who played unconventional and had a ton of success. And even at college age I was already labeled as somebody with my style that I couldn’t do it at the next level. And so he was an inspiration. Actually, still seeing him, knowing that he’s playing, he won the Czech League, not this year, but the season before… I’m still impressed with what he’s been able to accomplish.”
Thomas knows his statistics like the back of his hand. He knows where he stands (upon being showed his .938155715074544 mark as a joke following the game, he responded by saying, “that’s what it went up to? Okay, because was it .9376 before. Yeah, well that’s great. That’s awesome.”) but he doesn’t feel he stands alone. He gave credit to his teammates, and more notably, captain Zdeno Chara.
“That number is a testament to the team in front of me and the way that they battled for me all year long, defensemen and forwards,” Thomas said. “It also reflects probably one of the best, if not the best defenseman in our world out there in front of me that I think should be getting a little bit more Norris talk than at least I’ve heard. Maybe he is, I don’t know. I don’t hear that much. He’s been stellar for us all year playing against the top players on every team, night in and night our and just doing a great job. So that number is the team number.”
The Bruins held fan appreciation day at the Garden Saturday and made sure they delivered a win to the home crowd, beating the Senators, 3-1.
Claude Julien said following the game that Tuukka Rask would play in the regular-season finale Sunday, meaning Tim Thomas has set the NHL record for save percentage in a single season. By finishing the game with a .9381 mark, he surpassed Dominik Hasek’s .9366 save percentage in 1998-99. The stat first began being recorded in the 1982-83 season.
Marlborough native Bobby Butler scored the Senators’ only goal, beating Thomas at 18:27 of the first period.
With the win Saturday, the B’s are still alive to potentially take the second seed in the Eastern Conference, though they will need a combination of one or two points Sunday vs. the Devils and for the Penguins and Flyers to lose their final games in regulation or in overtime/shootout fashion.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Thomas’ performance this season has been nothing short of magnificent, so it’s fitting that he be remembered for it in the record books. It was just months ago that Tuukka Rask was the obvious choice to begin the season as the B’s starter. Ever since Thomas was given the second start of the season in Prague, he’s taken the opportunity and run to what should be his second Vezina Trophy.
- Paille once again submitted a strong case to be in the lineup next week. His tally on Saturday was his fourth goal in the last eight games. Considering he had just two goals on the season prior to that stretch, it’s a good sign.
- Shawn Thornton can hold his head high knowing he produced an even 20-point season offensively for the Bruins. His apple on Paille’s goal gave him 10 on the season to match his total of goals. This season has now produced career-highs in goals, assists and points. Thornton had never scored more than six goals in a season, though he did have nine helpers a year ago.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- While everyone was glad to see Horton score his 26th goal of the season, there was reason for concern when he left the ice following his second-period fight with Zack Smith. He would end up returning to the ice, but the last thing the Bruins would want would be for the hot-scoring Horton (six goals over his last nine games) to go down with an injury before the playoffs.
- While Paille may have cemented his suspected playing status for the beginning of the playoffs, Tyler Seguin did not do anything to help his case. The rookie was placed in the lineup Saturday in place of Patrice Bergeron, but the game provided more cases of the 19-year-old shying away from contact. Seguin was a minus-1 on the day.
|Bruins, Senators tied after one||at 1:49 pm ET|
After Wednesday night’s game, should it be any surprise that the Bruins’ energy line is responsible for the B’s thus far? At any rate, it’s 1-1 after a period.
Gregory Campell hit Daniel Paille in front of the net, with Paille putting in his sixth goal of the season at 12:53. The tally was Paille’s fourth in his last eight games. Shawn Thornton picked up his 10th assist of the season on the play, bringing his career-high point total to 20.
Tim Thomas, who figures to be making his last start of the regular season, has stopped all nine of the 10 shots he has faced. UNH product Bobby Butler dented Thomas’ shot at a record with his 10th goal of the season late in the period. Thomas entered the game with a .938 save percentage, just .001 better better than Dominik Hasek‘s .937 mark in 1998-99 for the best since they began recording the stat in 1982-83.
|Tim Thomas gets start Saturday, aims for record||at 12:23 pm ET|
In what will likely be his final start of the regular season, Tim Thomas looks to break the NHL’s single-season save percentage record Saturday afternoon against the Senators. Through 56 games thus far, Thomas’ save percentage stands at .9376, .001 ahead of Dominik Hasek‘s record-setting mark of .9366 in 1998-99.
Before Saturday’s game, coach Claude Julien said he’s focused more on just making sure Thomas is ready for the playoffs than he is on the record.
“He seems to be feeling good,” Julien said. “He’s realized that he’s forced his game a little bit, especially the game in New York [on Monday], but other than that, I think he’s been pretty steady for us all year. He feels well-rested, he feels good and he feels ready to get into the playoffs.”
Julien made a couple changes to the lineup for Saturday’s game, giving both Patrice Bergeron and Dennis Seidenberg the day off. This will be the first game Seidenberg has missed all season. Tyler Seguin will take Bergeron’s place as the second-line center, while Shane Hnidy will fill in for Seidenberg on the blue line.
|Record watch continues for Tim Thomas||04.08.11 at 1:12 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is trying not to think about the fact that he’s very close to setting the record for best save percentage in a single season.
So much for trying.
Seemingly with just one start left in the regular season, Thomas’ .938 save percentage this season would just barely edge Dominik Hasek‘s .937 mark from the 1998-99 season. Thomas’ save percentage didn’t move last game, when he allowed two goals on 32 shots.
“I know that [my next game] will be my 57th game, I think,” Thomas said. “The more games you play, the harder it is to impact it one way or the other. I plan playing well so that I don’t even have to worry about it, but hopefully I have a little bit of a buffer.”
Given that he holds the edge by .001%, it seems it will take a performance with just one, two or perhaps three goals allowed (depending on how many shots he faces) to finish ahead of Hasek’s mark. Told that he could potentially allow as many of three goals and not see his save percentage change, he replied, “I don’t know [if it would move it] either. I’d hope eight doesn’t move it.”
Claude Julien, meanwhile, is not willing to divulge whether he plans to use Thomas in the next two games at all.
“He might,” Julien said with a grin before adding, “is the record more important than the team?”
Thomas has led the NHL in both save percentage and GAA since his first start of the season back on Oct. 10 in Prague, a shutout against the Coyotes.
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