|Gameday notes: It’s a tradeoff!||02.03.11 at 1:51 pm ET|
Former Calder Trophy-winning Bruins netminder Andrew Raycroft will get the start in net for the Stars on Thursday, making it the first time he faces the man he was traded for in Tuukka Rask. After shining in his rookie year in 2003-04 and struggling in the season following the lockout, Raycroft was traded to the Leafs for Rask in June of 2006.
Raycroft has continued to struggle since leaving Boston, as he became a bit of a journeyman, making stops in Colorado and Vancouver following two years in Toronto. He has picked it up a bit with the Stars in his first season in Dallas, posting a .920 save percentage and 2.42 goals against average that is mostly inflated by an ugly start Jan. 21 in which he allowed seven goals in a loss to the Flames.
With the Bruins clearly having won the trade involving the two goaltenders they now look to win Thursday night’s game. The B’s haven’t turned in steady play in front of Rask, and it shows with the 23-year-old’s 4-10-1 record despite his .923 save percentage.
“I think we have a good goaltender in Tuukka and we know his statistics are good. The only negative thing is the win-loss column right now, and I have a feeling that's going to turn around,” coach Claude Julien said after the team’s morning skate. “Tuukka's a good goaltender and we have to use him and he has to give us some games and he got to give us some wins and he's got to give us the performance we know he's capable of.”
Here are some other notes from the Garden:
- If it weren’t for the world needing a bunch of useless information about music, today is a today that I could consider hanging up my twitter skates. The internet has gone crazy saying tonight’s matchup is overhyped, but there are simply too many reasons as to why this game is very important for the Bruins to win.
First of all, there’s the aspect of Rask being in net. The Finnish netminder was essentially victimized by his team’s play in front of him prior to the All-Star break, and the team can really make a statement by playing well enough for him to earn a win against a very good Stars team.
Then there’s the “very good Stars team” part. Dallas, despite losing three of it’s last four games, is currently third in the Western Conference and went 8-2-1 in January. The Bruins have struggled against Western Conference teams this season (2-4-2) and have been especially bad when they have hosted the (0-2-2). When you consider that the Sharks are in town on Saturday and that the B’s have a pair of games against the Red Wings coming up, there are just too many reasons as to why this a very important game for the Bruins.
- As previously noted, Mark Stuart will be a healthy scratch for the fifth straight game. Given the play of Adam McQuaid and Steven Kampfer, it isn’t too shocking, but the fact that Julien admitted it isn’t even at the point where it’s a game-time decision anymore is a bit telling.
“I'm not going to mix anything up right now,” Julien said. “It is what it is and we keep talking about that almost everyday as well, is that we've got a guy in Stuey that so far has had a great attitude towards not disrupting the team and understanding how tough it is to play.
“At the same time, our six D's are doing a great job so you don't punish other guys for that kind of stuff. Things always work out and Stuey knows that and has been a real, I guess helpful player in regards to that, at not disrupting the team. He's still working hard, and when he gets his chance he'll be ready.”
- Julien was asked Thursday morning if he feels Tim Thomas, who leads the NHL with a .945 save percentage (on pace to be the best ever), 1.82 goals against average, seven shutouts (tied with Henrik Lundqvist) and 25 wins (tied with three others), is the best goaltender in the league. The answer wasn’t very surprising.
“I'm going to back that up 100 percent,” Julien said. ” The way he's played for us definitely a great goaltender and the thing with Timmy that helps this hockey club is we play well in front of him, but when we do break down he's there to keep us in the game at those key times. And that's what's important for our team. And again we may give up a certain amount of shots, at the end of the night we say 'how many scoring chances did we give up?' and some of those scoring chances we may not give up a ton but they're real good scoring chances and Timmy comes up big. That's what makes a difference and that's why Timmy's a good goaltender.”
|Could Tim Thomas see himself getting in a goalie fight?||at 1:01 pm ET|
Goalie fights. There’s nothing like them.
Wednesday night, those who live to see the blockers and mitts dropped were treated to an entertaining ' albeit very brief ' bout between Brent Johnson and Rick DiPietro after DiPietro took a cheap shot at (and here’s the ironic part) Penguins forward Matt Cooke. The former Boston University netminder has a history with Cooke, as Cooke twice was called for goaltender interference the last time the Islanders were in Pittsburgh. A scrum ensued after the hit, with Johnson skating the length of the ice to his teammate’s defense.
The fight didn’t take long, as it took, to quote philosopher Ronnie Ortiz-Magro, “one shot, bro” before DiPietro was down on the ice.
Vezina favorite Tim Thomas saw the fight and shared his thoughts on netminders dropping the gloves with WEEI.com on Thursday.
“Well, it was two American guys going at it,” Thomas said. “That’s the first thought that crossed my mind. The second thought that crossed it was that if I’m in the same situation, watch for both hands, because I don’t think DiPietro was ready for the left.
“The third thing I thought was, I’m glad that wasn’t me that got hit and knocked down on Versus, because so many people watch on Versus.”
While the play was certainly amusing given how short-lived the fight ended up being, Thomas could appreciate why it unfolded, as DiPietro was responding to Cooke, with Johnson simply having the back of his teammate.
“I just saw the way it played out with Cooke and DiPietro, and that’s hockey, and it kind of played out in the way that it should,” Thomas said. “DiPietro was frustrated, I understand that, but Johnson coming down and sticking up for his teammate, I understood that, too. It was just a fair hockey play.”
Could Bruins fans, who were delighted back in the day when Byron Dafoe squared off with Olaf Kolzig, see one of their goaltenders fight any time soon? Thomas admits he hasn’t envisioned himself fighting another netminder, regardless of how frustrated he may be with a certain player on a particular night.
“You don’t think about it,” Thomas said. “It’s hard. I try to play honest, so because of that it’s going to lower the chances that it ever happens with me. DiPietro stepped out of his way at Cooke. I try not to do that.
“I have been frustrated enough to do that before, don’t get me wrong. I’ve responded to [Sean] Avery, and probably went a little bit over the edge against the Capitals at the end of the season. I overreacted when Jason Chimera hit me, but I don’t know. I’m so focused on stopping the puck and getting the win that night, that my mind doesn’t switch to that way of thinking very easily.”
Here’s the Avery incident:
And the Chimera play:
|Nathan Horton makes his first goal in a long time count, Bruins beat Hurricanes||02.01.11 at 9:31 pm ET|
Tim Thomas made 24 saves on the night and improved his season record to 25-5-6. His 25 wins put him in a tie with Ducks goaltender Jonas Hiller for the league lead.
The Hurricanes received goals from Jamie McBain and Joe Corvo in the first and third period, respectively.
The Bruins will return the Garden Thursday night when they face the Stars.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- To say the Bruins needed Horton to get going in an understatement. The 25-year-old had just 12 goals entering the night, and only one of those had come in the last 20 games. With Marc Savard out, the Bruins need all their guys going, and can’t depend on Patrice Bergeron to continue scoring enough for multiple people. Speaking of which'¦
- Bergeron continues to score enough to make up for any slumps teammates may be going through. Bergeron, who was named the NHL’s No. 1 Star of the Month for January via his 17 points last month (8 G, 9 A) kicked off January in style by scoring his 17th goal of the season.
- With Adam McQuaid‘s plus-1 on the night, he is now a plus-16 on the season, good for fifth on the team. Chara was also a plus-1 and leads the Bruins with a plus-1 and leads the B’s with a plus-23 rating.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- The Bruins found themselves shorthanded four times, with the last penalty, a Brad Marchand hooking call, resulting in a Carolina goal.
- Staying in the special teams department, the Bruins didn’t have a single power play over the course of the game, as the only time a Hurricanes player found the penalty box was when Jay Harrison got five for fighting following his first-period bout with Milan Lucic.
It was only the second game this season (Dec. 18 vs. Washington) in which the Bruins did not have a power play.
|Team Lidstrom wins NHL All-Star Game, Tim Thomas gets victory||01.30.11 at 8:17 pm ET|
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas became the first goalie to win three All-Star Games in a row when Team Lidstrom defeated Team Staal, 11-10, Sunday in Raleigh, N.C.
Thomas, who also won the 2008 and 2009 All-Star Games, made 11 saves on 15 shots in the third period. Bruins captain Zdeno Chara had an assist on Team Staal’s first goal, a tally by Capitals forward Alexander Ovechkin.
Anze Kopital, Danny Briere and Louie Eriksson each had a pair of goals for Team Lidstrom. Eric Staal and Kris Letang led Team Staal with two goals. Patrick Sharp, who had a goal and two assists for Team Staal, was named the game’s MVP.
The Bruins will return to practice in Wilmington on Monday before heading to Raleigh, where they will face the Hurricanes on Tuesday.
|Tim Thomas, Zdeno Chara drafted to different teams in All-Star fantasy draft||01.28.11 at 8:30 pm ET|
Bruins All-Star representatives Zdeno Chara and Tim Thomas will play as opponents in Sunday’s All-Star game. Chara was made the seventh overall pick by Team Staal in the Friday night’s fantasy draft to determine the rosters, while Nicklas Lidstrom selected Thomas with the 10th overall pick.
Eric Staal made Hurricanes teammate Cam Ward the first overall pick in the draft, causing Thomas to be available later for Team Lidstrom, who chose Lightning center Steven Stamkos second overall.
Asked earlier this month what would happen if Thomas and Chara were to play on different teams in the All-Star game, Thomas replied, “I win, he loses.”
|There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus… after the All-Star break||01.27.11 at 4:49 pm ET|
There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus on what’s at stake in the final 32 games of the regular season and hopefully, long after that. He reminded reporters of that following Wednesday night’s win when asked about the second half of the season that starts following this weekend’s All-Star game.
“Man, we just started the break five minutes ago,” Thomas said. “I’m just going to focus on the break. Otherwise, we don’t get that mental break we’re talking about.”
Fair enough. Thomas has earned the right to reflect on what has been a first half filled with superlatives worthy of a Vezina and Hart trophy winner. Thomas has been that good.
- He came within 11 minutes and 23 seconds of his NHL-leading eighth shutout on Wednesday night against the Panthers.
- He leads the NHL in goals against at 1.81.
- He leads the NHL in save percentage at .945.
- He is tied for second in wins with 24 behind Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller.
- His teammates believe they will win every time he takes the ice.
That last one is the most subjective but also the most important. Thomas has recovered from summer hip surgery to become the backbone of their Bruins team. So, after the 2-1 Wednesday Thomas admitted he’ll take some time to savor the winning feeling heading into the break before gearing up physically and mentally for the final 32.
“I was thinking win, feel the good feeling,” Thomas said. “Then you can really savor the feeling for a couple of days because usually we travel or get ready for another game. So yeah I thought about it.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Tim Thomas unveils quirky tactic after latest ‘sick’ performance||01.26.11 at 11:39 pm ET|
For as long as there has been hockey, there has been the stereotype that goalies ' perhaps even more than other players ' have their quirks. In Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Panthers, Bruins netminder Tim Thomas used one of his to make sure he knew what he was working with at all times.
When asked about the closing seconds of the game and a save he made on former teammate Dennis Wideman with 0.4 seconds to go, Thomas revealed a habit of his that he has depended on over the years.
“I count how many right-handed guys and how many left-handed guys there are, and there was only one right-handed guy on the ice there at the end, with Wideman,” Thomas said. “Unless I miscounted.
“I know that if they wrap it on my glove side, a lefty is going to have a different shot, but I knew where the right-handed guy was going to be because I’ve been watching Wides on TV and that's where he’s scoring a lot of his goals, right from that pocket where he tried to get a shot on me. So to make a long story short, I was prepared for a right-handed shot from that angle.”
Thomas said he counts lefties and righties every faceoff and every line change. It seems like a logical and useful tactic for a goalie, but none of the reporters in the room, including one former goalie, had ever heard of anyone doing it. Thomas said he wasn’t sure how many other goalies did it, either.
“I don’t know,” he said. “I started doing it in Europe because there are so few right-handed guys. So I actually had to be aware of when there was more than one right-handed guy on the ice.”
The way Thomas, who has been dealing with a cold, broke down that final play of the game, he made it sound almost as if he was seeing it all unfold in slow motion. When asked if that’s how it felt to him, he noted that he just seems to be on top of things when he’s under the weather.
“It actually felt like [I could see the game in slow motion] all night for some reason,” he said. “I’ve got a cold if you guys haven't heard that, and that seems to happen to me when I have a cold. I play some of my best games sick. I personally don’t like it, physically. But for example, my family, whenever they find out I’m sick, they’re like, ‘Hey, you’re going to play good.’”
Whatever Thomas is doing and however he feels, it’s obviously working. And it’s probably best to not try and make sense of it. To paraphrase Reg Dunlop in “Slap Shot,” he’s a goalie, he’s supposed to be like that.
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