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Milt Schmidt meant more to Tim Thomas than Phil Kessel 10.29.10 at 1:14 am ET
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Don’t get Tim Thomas wrong. He still respects Phil Kessel.

It’s just that on this night – one to honor a man with 75 years of history with the Boston Bruins – it was more important for the goalie to focus on getting the win, not the lightning rod of the Hub’s hockey fans.

And focus is exactly what Thomas did, turning away all 20 shots over 60 minutes in posting his 19th career shutout – a 2-0 dispatch of the Toronto Maple Leafs before a fired-up TD Garden sellout crowd.

“Yeah, you know, it being Milt Schmidt night, the best thing we could do for him I think was to get a win, and so we were trying hard to get a good result,” Thomas said. “I mean, just listening to the accomplishments, that that man has had as part of the Bruins organization, and he deserved the win tonight, so we were focusing on that.

“Now as far as Phil Kessel goes, the other side of that coin there the you’re talking about, we’re not thinking about that We’re thinking about the two points. We needed the win. Especially we needed to bounce back after a loss, so we’re not thinking about individuals like that. At least, I’m not.”

That doesn’t mean Kessel didn’t have his chances. He had six shots on net, including one point-blank in the second period when Kessel came up the slot and took possession of a loose puck in front of Thomas.

“Oh, was it? On the other side? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I remember that,” Thomas recalled.

When you’re stopping players like Phil Kessel point blank, you’re likely putting up great numbers. And that’s what Thomas has been doing, ever since getting the start in the season’s second game.

He has two shutouts, including Thursday’s 2-0 win. He is a perfect 5-0 with a 0.60 goals against average. His save percentage is a near-perfect .980.

Is the best start he’s ever had?

“Well, probably statistically? I feel obviously that I’m playing good. The team is playing very well in front of me. They’re really helping me out with rebounds, screens, blocking in the screens, I mean. [Dennis] Seidenberg had as many saves as I did tonight, and that’s making it very helpful.”

The five straight wins to start a season is the best by a Boston goalie since Tiny Thompson went 6-0-0 in his first six games of the 1937-38 season.

Added coach Claude Julien, “Solid again. I think we can’t say enough about the way he’s played. What I liked about his game too, you know, they had some shots from the point and he did a great job of not giving any rebounds. He kept those inside of him. I thought he did a great job of smothering those loose pucks and just solid challenging and confident.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Milt Schmidt, NHL, Tim Thomas
Patrice Bergeron has Bruins leading Maple Leafs after one 10.28.10 at 8:03 pm ET
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After an awesome ceremony to honor the 92-years-young Milt Schmidt, the Bruins and Leafs skated to a competitive first period, with the B’s jumping out to a 1-0 lead thanks to Patrice Bergeron‘s first goal of the season. Bergeron picked up the goal, a power play tally, on a slap shot off Jonas Gustavsson, at 19:19. The goal was the 100th of Bergeron’s career.

- Phil Kessel predictably was booed heavily by the Garden crowd, though he certainly expected it coming in.

- The Bruins tinkered with the defensive pairings they opened the game with, as Matt Hunwick saw time with Dennis Seidenberg (remember the season-opener?) and Andrew Ference skated alongside Mark Stuart.

- Tim Thomas stopped all eight shots he faced, and got some help when a Luca Caputi shot rang off the right post.

And now for a D2: The Mighty Ducks are Back reference:

Move over, Dwayne Robertston: Brad Marchand laughs at your two minutes for roping. The B’s fourth-line winger took the always interesting two-minute minor for “shooting a stick to a teammate” at 8:46. As rule 10.3 states, “a player will be penalized if he throws, tosses, slides, or shoots a stick to a teammate on the ice. … A minor penalty shall be imposed for an infraction of this rule.”

The audience let out a collective laugh of confusion at the penalty’s announcement, but the B’s were able to kill off each of the two penalites on the period. Mark Stuart went off for interference at 1:03.

Read More: Patrice Bergeron, Phil Kessel, Tim Thomas,
Expected starter Tim Thomas: Thursday ‘isn’t Boston Bruins vs. Phil Kessel’ at 1:13 pm ET
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Tim Thomas hopes to add Phil Kessel to the list of players he's frustrated this season. (AP Photo)

Tim Thomas hopes to add Phil Kessel to the list of players he's frustrated this season. (AP Photo)

Tim Thomas appears set to make his fifth start of the season after being first off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate. Thomas is 4-0 on the season with a 0.75 goals against average and a .980 save percentage. Should Thomas be between the pipes on Thursday vs. Toronto, he’ll face an old teammate in Phil Kessel, who was traded to the Leafs prior to last season.

Thomas can understand the hoopla surrounding Kessel, but noted after the morning skate that the B’s have more to worry about than one player.

“It isn’t the Boston Bruins vs. Phil Kessel, it’s the Boston Bruins vs. the Toronto Maple Leafs,” Thomas said. “Phil is definitely a part, and you have to be aware of him. It takes a lot of hard work. You’ve got to be on your toes all the time because he’s so exploise and so fast and he’s got that quick snap shot. As a goalie, I have to be on my toes and try to find it through traffic. That’s how I’m going to deal with it.”

Thomas said that he doesn’t necessarily feel he has an advantage against a former teammate just because he was used to practicing against him.

“I’m sure he’s learning new tricks all the time,” Thomas said of Kessel. “I don’t want to cheat when I get into a game based on what I think he would do in practice. What he does in practice and what he does in the game are two different things.”

Read More: Phil Kessel, Tim Thomas, Tyler Seguin,
Mike Milbury on D&C: ‘Don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now’ 10.27.10 at 2:31 pm ET
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Mike Milbury

Mike Milbury

NESN hockey analyst Mike Milbury joined the Dale & Holley show Wednesday for his weekly hockey update and discussion of other hot topics regarding the Bruins. Milbury also talked about the latest debate, which has been the goaltender situation thus far in the season.

“It’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka [Rask],” Milbury said. “I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because [Tim] Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things … is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.”

Following are highlights from the conversation. To hear the entire interview, visit the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Can we assume the hype we saw last night in Boston won’t be matched, but will at least be evident as Phil Kessel returns to the Garden with the Maple Leafs tomorrow night?

Yeah, it’ll be fun, and the Maple Leafs are winning their share of games, so it should be competitive. They’re not trading on the back end. I mean, they’re supposed to be strong on the blue line, but they’ll, they cough it up regularly, so there’ll be plenty of opportunities to score. [Jean-Sebastien] Giguere‘s been backstopping the goals against, so it’s been OK, but they’re a vulnerable team, but at least they’re playing with some vinegar, and so it should be a pretty good matchup.

If each goaltender starts roughly 40 games, what’s the best way to handle two goaltenders, and Tuukka, who’s been shaky lately?

That’s a great question. I mean, it’s how to handle both of them, not just Tuukka. I don’t throw Tuukka in the 2-hole now just because Thomas has had a good start. It looks like they’re going to battle for the top spot, and I think one of the things, before I try to answer that question, that has conspired against Rask and Thomas is the schedule. I mean, they go overseas, they play two games, they get basically a full week off, they played three more and then they get four days off. There’s no rhythm for any of their players, not just the goaltenders.

But once they get into the need of their schedule, you know, I think there’s plenty of room to let a guy run two, three or even four games in a row. But if you really want to keep the party going in terms of competition, once you get into five and six games in a row for one guy, you’re asking much from the other guy to just bounce back and be excellent in his first start.
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Read More: Boston Bruins, Mike Milbury, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask
Expect Tuukka Rask to start vs. Rangers, if you dare 10.23.10 at 12:49 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask was first off the ice during the Bruins’ morning skate Saturday, typically signifying that he will be getting the start in net when the B’s host the Rangers. Rask, however, was also thought to be the starter Thursday when he not only exited the ice first during his team’s morning workout, but insinuated that he would be receiving his first start between the pipes since the season opener on Oct. 9. “It’s fun,” Rask said after the skate, Thursday. “It’s been a while since [my] last start, so it should be great.”

Tuukka Rask hasn't been in net for the B's since Oct. 9 (AP Photo)

Tuukka Rask hasn't been in net for the Bruins since Oct. 9 (AP Photo)

during his team’s morning workout, but insinuated that he would be receiving his first start between the pipes since the season opener on Oct. 9. “It’s fun,” Rask said after the skate, Thursday. “It’s been a while since [my] last start, so it should be great.”

After Bruins’ win over the Capitals, Tim Thomas (who improved his record to 4-0 with a 0.75 goals against average), explained the situation, saying “I knew [I was going to start] from yesterday, and nobody asked me this morning.”

Claude Julien didn’t note who would be between the pipes in his press conference following Saturday’s morning skate but did comment on how Rask has approached a long stretch in which the only ice time he’s seen has been in practice.

“When you don’t play much, these practices have to be games for you,” Julien said. “You’ve got to be sharp and on top of everything, and that’s how you stay sharp.”

Rask said the same thing when asked following the morning skate. One reporter sarcastically quipped that Rask seemed more ready on Saturday than he did Thursday. The goaltender didn’t offer much of a response, simply laughing and saying, “I don’t think so.”

Rask hasn’t started since the Oct. 9 season-opener in Prague, a game in which he faced 36 shots and allowed four goals in a 5-2 loss. Thomas, meanwhile has a .978 save percentage and 0.75 goals against average in four games played. Both statistics are tops among goalies who have started a game this season.

Read More: Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask,
Nathan Horton on D&H: ‘It’s like a family already’ 10.22.10 at 1:33 pm ET
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Nathan Horton

Nathan Horton

Bruins forward Nathan Horton checked in with the Dale & Holley show Friday to talk about the B’s fast start to the season. Horton has four goals and three assists in five games as the Bruins have gone 4-1-0.

To hear the interview, including Horton’s thoughts on David Krejci and Zdeno Chara, go to the Dale & Holley audio on demand page.

Horton is enjoying his new team after spending his first six seasons with the Florida Panthers in the Miami area, where hockey obviously does not have the same importance. “This is what every player dreams about playing, just this type of atmosphere, and this city,” he said of Boston. “It’s not like you can imagine. Once you’re there, it’s pretty amazing.”

Horton said no matter where he is, his style remains the same. “You have to perform,” he said. “Even if you’re not putting up points or anything, you have to work hard and be a team guy and just play hard for your teammates. I think that’s what everyone’s trying to do. We like each other as a team. It’s like a family already. Everyone gets along. It’s an unbelievable feeling when you want to come to the rink every day, you’re going to win games, and I think everyone’s having fun.”

Regarding the B’s goaltending situation, Horton said Tuukka Rask has not shown any signs of disappointment despite serving as Tim Thomas‘ backup the last four games. “He’s been great,” Horton said. “He knows he’s a great goaltender. He’s going to get his shot. … He’s still having fun. Nobody can score on him in practice, too.”

Read More: Nathan Horton, Tim Thomas, Tuukka Rask,
Why Tim Thomas is a happy man at 12:01 pm ET
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At the end of last year and in the playoffs, Tim Thomas wasn’t smiling that much. He was in pain from not playing and from bad hip that required labrum surgery in the offseason.

Fast forward five months and you have a spry 36-year-old goalie sliding easily from post to post, stopping 38-of-39 saves in a 4-1 win over the mighty Washington Capitals in the team’s first game of the season before a fired-up crowd at TD Garden. He is 4-0 to start the season, allowing only three goals while posting a 0.75 goals against and a .978 save percentage.

Why wouldn’t you be smiling?

“I felt good, I felt really good,” Thomas said. “My movement felt real good and maybe there was some rebounds, where there’s a different kind of on, where it just sticks to you and there’s no rebounds and stuff. I didn’t exactly have that tonight, so my D helped me out with the rebounds, but I had the movement and the speed. One of these days, you’ll have everything and one of these days I’ll play the puck the right way too.

“I think it’s been exceptional the last couple of weeks since, you know, I got back into the groove. I felt it coming in the early days of Czech and you know, it’s fun when you can move.”

Thomas even admitted he’s exceeded his own expectations in his recovery.

“For sure, and obviously, I couldn’t be happier with the way I’m feeling this far,” Thomas said. “You know, now I’ve just got to keep working hard and keep working in practice, and there’s ways that I can make it easier on myself. That will be my goal in practice.” Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Claude Julien, NHL, Tim Thomas
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