|Tim Thomas honored to be an All-Star, willing to shut down Zdeno Chara if opportunity arises||01.11.11 at 5:21 pm ET|
The Bruins received perhaps the least surprising news they could get on Tuesday when they were informed that Tim Thomas was named an All-Star. Thomas is putting together the best year of any goaltender over the last five years, and as such, it is no shock that he’s earned the honor of joining the league’s best for the third time in his career.
“It’s always an honor,” Thomas said of the distinction prior to the B’s game against the Senators on Tuesday. “It’s a feather in your cap, so I’m very happy.”
Thomas has played in 29 of the Bruins’ first 41 games, compiling an 18-4-6 record and leading the league with a 1.84 goals against average and a .944 save percentage. His five shutouts tie his career-high and put him in a tie for the league lead.
Yet given all the time he’s played, it is expected that the Bruins could use Tuukka Rask a bit more just to keep Thomas from being overworked. The same line of thinking might apply when wondering whether the 36-year-old could use the All-Star to get some rest rather than work more. Thomas’ reaction to that idea is simle.
“Everybody wants down time, but having said that, for most people — myself included — you don’t make the All-Star [game] that often,” Thomas said. “It’s an honor worth giving up a couple of days rest for.”
Thomas will join teammates Zdeno Chara and Tyler Seguin in Raleigh, N.C., for the All-Star festivities, as Chara also earned the distinction, while Seguin will participate in the rookie skills competition a day prior to the game.
Because of the new fantasy draft used to determine the All-Star teams, Thomas and Chara won’t necessarily be teammates in the game, as it is no longer a contest of the Eastern conference vs. the Western conference. As odd it would be to see Chara go up against his own goaltender, Thomas was quick in predicting what would happen in such a scenario.
“I win, he loses.”
|Bruins blow two-goal lead, fall to Canadiens in overtime||01.08.11 at 9:59 pm ET|
Thomas lost what would have been his sixth shutout of the season with 2:22 remaining in regulation when he failed to get a stick on a Scott Gomez shot with the Canadiens on the power play. One minute and 34 seconds later, former Boston College star Brian Gionta redirected a James Wisniewski shot past Thomas to cap the Habs’ comeback.
The Bruins got a pair of goals from Patrice Bergeron, who scored his ninth and 10th goals of the season in the second period.
The Habs outshot the Bruins, 25-8 in the third period and overtime combined, and finished the night with 42 shots on Thomas. Carey Price made 27 saves for the Canadiens on 29 shots.
With the overtime loss, the Bruins remain in first in the Northeast division with 49 points. The B’s have played two games less than the Habs thus far this season.
From Montreal, the Bruins will travel to Pittsburgh, where they will take on the Penguins. Two of their next four games come against the Penguins, with the other two being played against the Senators and Flyers.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- An 0-for-3 showing on the power play means the Bruins have now gone five games without a power play goal. The last time the B’s scored on a man advantage was back on Dec. 28 when Mark Recchi scored the game-winner against the Lightning with 20 seconds remaining in regulation.
- Michael Ryder’s penalty for tripping Wisniewski came back to bite the B’s, as it led to Gomez’ goal and Thomas losing his shutout.
- P.K. Subban didn’t seem interested in obliging Shawn Thornton, as the B’s enforcer/semi-sniper had plenty to say to the rookie defenseman as he skated away from an invitation. Subban is responsible for the huge (and clean) hit on Brad Marchand last month that cost Marchand three games.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- Though it was Bergeron’s first two-goal game of the season, it also made for yet another productive night in a very productive stretch. Bergeron now has 12 points over his last 11 games. Though Bergeron has had his offensive lulls this season (two different scoreless streaks of four games, including one to kick off the season), he has been one of the Bruins’ top offensive performers since mid-December.
- When Mathieu Darche whacked a puck past Thomas with a stick that was right around crossbar height, the B’s were undoubtedly aided when, after a few seconds, it was called no-goal on the ice. The play was very close, and it seemed whatever the call on the ice was would stand given that the video evidence wasn’t overwhelming one way or another.
- Wheeler falls in both categories. He took two penalties in the game, but he also drew one and broke a three-game scoreless streak when he assisted Bergeron’s first goal. His three games without a point made for his coldest streak since going five games without a point in early December. Wheeler has 16 points on the season.
The 24-year-old winger had an opportunity to give the B’s a three-goal lead in the third when he intercepted an attempted clear from Price. He took a split-second too long with it, as Price, who was out of his net, was able to get back in time to glove Wheeler’s attempt.
First place in the Northeast division is on the line as the Bruins (21-12-6) take on the Canadiens (22-16-3) at the Bell Centre on Saturday night. The Habs have taken both of the contests between the rival teams thus far this season, with Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas taking losses on Nov. 11 and Dec. 16, respectively.
The Bruins are coming off a 3-1 loss to the Wild at the Garden on Thursday. It was their first regulation loss since being blanked by the Ducks on Dec. 20.
WHERE IT’S AT
- The Canadiens are 13-5-3 at the Bell Centre, and their 29 home points are second only to the Capitals’ 33 in the Eastern conference. Following their Dec. 16 4-3 win over the B’s, they spent seven games on the road and have returned to Montreal with an overtime loss to the Thrashers on Sunday and a shootout win over the Penguins on Thursday.
- While this game features one of the league’s best home teams, it also features one of the best road teams in the Bruins. The B’s 12-5-3 road mark is among the best in the conference, as only the Flyers and Rangers have more points (29 apiece) on the road this season.
- New Habs defenseman James Wisniewski has five points — two goals and three assists — in four games since joining the Canadiens. He was a minus-18 with the Islanders this season, but playing for a winning team has changed that a bit. Wisniewski hasn’t posted a negative rating in any of his games with Montreal since being acquired from New York for second and fifth-round picks.
- Who would have thought that Steven Kampfer would be the hottest Bruins scorer over the last five games? The rookie defenseman has scored the first three goals of his career over the span, including a second-period tally against the Wild in which he sent a rebound from a Patrice Bergeron shot past Jose Theodore.
STORYLINES GOING IN
- There’s no bigger story than what this game means in the standings. The B’s have been in first place since beating the Panthers back on Dec. 27. Since then, they have opened a three-point lead in the Northeast and seen it shrink to one point. The the Bruins have played have played multiple games less than most of the other teams in the Eastern conference, the fact that their division-leading 48 points is worse than those of six other teams in the conference should be eye-opening enough to illustrate how important winning the division is to being in a good spot when the playoffs roll around.
[UPDATE: Horton is not expected to play, as Julien told reporters Saturday that he is "very unlikely" to go.]
If Horton plays, it seems he will do so on a new line. Julien flip-flopped Horton and Michael Ryder, meaning Horton is with Blake Wheeler and David Krejci, while Ryder will play with Milan Lucic on a line centered by Marc Savard.
- Though he has battled his way in and out of the lineup as a healthy scratch this season, Habs rookie defenseman P.K. Subban has been a pain in the Bruins’ you-know-what. The 21-year-old Toronto native scored his first career goal back on Nov. 11 at the Garden and most recently laid a crushing hit on Brad Marchand that led to the winger leaving the following game vs. Washington and then missing the next three.
(You can brush up on your French with the feed.)
- This is a bear of a stretch for the B’s, as their four games following Saturday includes two games against the Penguins and one against the Flyers. It’s one their schedule’s toughest stretches of the season (they’ve got another one coming up in February that includes games against the Stars, Sharks, Habs, and Red Wings) and a good test of how far this team has come since snapping out of its mid-December funk.
|Tuukka Rask to start for Bruins vs. Wild||01.06.11 at 6:58 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask will make his third consecutive start when the Bruins take on the Wild Thursday night at TD Garden. Rask, who hadn’t started two games in a row this season until Monday’s 2-1 win over the Maple Leafs, is 3-7-1 with a 2.63 goals against average and .927 save percentage.
Due to the emergence of Tim Thomas as the league’s top netminder this season, Rask, who led the NHL in both GAA and save percentage last season, has had to deal with a backup role to the surprise of many. After being pulled following three first-period goals against the Sabres on Saturday, Rask came back to stop 36 shots against the Leafs.
|Tuukka Rask remains a cool customer in dealing with role||01.05.11 at 6:55 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Right now Tuukka Rask is looking for a happy medium of sorts. Perhaps the most surprising backup goalie of the year, Rask has made just 11 starts this season after emerging as the starter down the stretch and into the playoffs in the 2009-10 campaign.
“It’s different, and I think everybody has to go through it at some point, Rask said Wednesday. “In my short career, I haven’t sat on the bench that much, and this is definitely the most I’ve ever sat. '¦ You can’t get satisfied sitting on the bench. You’ve got to work hard and try to find you game and get those wins the team needs.”
The opportunity to get those wins has not been presented to Rask nearly as much as many expected going into the season. Tim Thomas has been the man between the pipes for more than two-thirds of the Bruins’ games thus far, and Rask recently spent seven games straight games on the bench.
With his role so different from what he and a great number of people had anticipated, it’s no wonder that coach Claude Julien has expressed some sort of concern with making sure the goalie stays confident. The remedy for any confidence issues the 23-year-old could be battling is more frequent starts, and results when he does play.
“It’s funny how it goes, confidence-wise when you’re playing a lot and you’re in that groove and you’re feeling good about yourself, and then you don’t play that much,” Rask said. “You shouldn’t be feeling bad, but there’s nothing you can do about it because you haven’t played. You try to find that groove and get on it, but it’s challenging. Hopefully I can find it.”
With Rask’s starts on Saturday and Monday, the Finnish netminder received consecutive starts for the first time all season. Getting the start Monday seemed big for Rask, as he rebounded from a poor first-period showing in Buffalo to a performance in which he shut down the Leafs en route to a 2-1 victory. He said that he approached both games the same way, and that given the circumstances under which he was pulled against the Sabres, the Bruins’ weren’t in too bad of shape at the time of his exit.
“I was still up, 4-3, when I got pulled,” Rask said. “It wasn’t that tough for me to prepare mentally and then try to have that bounce-back feeling. Still, when you get pulled, you don’t want to get pulled twice in a row. You try to earn the trust and earn the win. That’s the only thinking I was thinking.”
Rask is 3-7-1 with a 2.63 goals against average this season. His .927 save percentage would be good for fourth in the NHL if he had enough minutes to qualify.
|Tim Thomas not voted to All-Star Game by fans||01.04.11 at 1:39 pm ET|
On Tuesday, the NHL announced the six players chosen in the fan vote for the upcoming All-Star Game. Only the Penguins and Blackhawks were represented, as Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Marc-Andre Fleury will represent Pittsburgh, while Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith will go from Chicago.
In last week’s voting update, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was fourth among netminders in votes. He still has the opportunity to be one of the 36 additional All-Stars announced on Jan. 11. Thomas leads the league with a .945 save percentage and a 1.80 goals-against average. He is tied for the NHL lead with five shutouts.
Fleury, meanwhile is fifth in the league with a 2.31 GAA and 12th in the league with a .918 save percentage. He has 17 wins to Thomas’ 18. Detroit’s Jimmy Howard leads the NHL with 20 wins.
The 2011 All-Star game will be played on Jan. 30 in Raleigh, N.C.
|Claude Julien defends goaltender switch, saying Bruins ‘needed some bigger saves’||01.01.11 at 10:37 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask, making his first start since Dec. 15, was pulled from the game after allowing three goals on 16 shots in the first period. The B’s led, 4-3, at the time, and went on to lose, 7-6, to the Sabres in a shootout.
Following the game, coach Claude Julien defended the decision in his post-game interview on NESN.
“We felt that we needed some bigger saves,” Julien said. “He hasn’t played in a while, but still, we needed to win this hockey game, so we thought it was important to make that change.”
Rask is 2-7-1 this season.
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