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Thomas: Easy does it 03.27.10 at 9:15 pm ET
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Everyone in Bruins black and gold knew Tim Thomas hadn’t played much in the last two weeks.

And, after watching video, every Bruin knew what the Calgary Flames wanted to do on Saturday. The Flames figured if they could crash the net they could eventually get to – and frustrate – the Bruins goalie.

So when push came to shove on Saturday, the Bruins and Thomas were ready.

Thomas stopped all 31 shots he faced in leading the Bruins to a 5-0 cakewalk over the Flames at TD Garden.

“Timmy hasn’t played in a while and obviously, he is a very competitive guy and it’s great to see him out come here and play a good game for us,” said Mark Recchi, one of five different goal-scorers for Boston on Saturday.

“It’s nice when you have two goaltenders you can really count on and Timmy has been here for a number of years and has done a great job and it was great to see him. Tuukka [Rask] carried the load for a little bit and did a wonderful and it’s nice when you pull him and don’t miss a beat because Timmy does a great job.”

Thomas had started in goal exactly once in the last eight games, losing a 3-2 decision to New Jersey on March 15.

“That was like my fifth full game in like seven weeks,” Thomas said of Saturday’s return to action. “I played periods, but not [a full game]. So I didn’t really know what to expect, but the team came out strong in front of me. They did a really good job of making me feel comfortable and that helped a lot.”

And when the Flames took a pair of goalie interference calls in the second period, Thomas and the Bruins were ready.

“Well that’s what they do,” Thomas said. “We actually saw that in the video before the game. That’s what they do so you’re prepared for it. I’m just not going to change the way that I play. That’s the worst thing you can do, because they’ll get goals off of it, if you change the way that you play. You have to put yourself in vulnerable positions sometimes and that’s what kind of happened on that one play.”

Thanks to the win, the Bruins tied Philadelphia with 80 in seventh place in the East while dropping Calgary further into a ninth-place hole behind Detroit in the West.

“They were behind the eight ball more than us,” Thomas said. “At this point we were sitting in the playoff spot before this game. So really, especially after that last they had against the Islanders, we knew that they must really be feeling the pressure. Part of our game plan was to be the relaxed team, be the team that relaxes and plays and has fun and hopefully good things come of it, and it worked.”

Read More: Bruins, Flames, NHL, Tim Thomas
Bruin’s shutout extinguishes Flames at 3:33 pm ET
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Summary — The Bruins found their stroke on Saturday with a 5-0 victory over Calgary at a sold out matinee game at TD Garden. Tim Thomas got the start and the win with his fifth shutout of the year by stopping 31 shots. Miikka Kiprusoff took the loss for the Flames by allowing five goals on 29 shots before giving way to backup Vesa Toskala in the third period.

Boston broke out of its power play funk in a big way after entering the game on an 0-for-22 streak with its last man-advantage  goal coming on a Marco Sturm strike against the Maple Leafs on March 9. Dennis Seidenberg got the credit for snapping the streak at 14:08 in the first period after a Craig Conroy hooking call when he hit a one-timer from the high slot that had eyes to the top of the net for a 1-0 Bruins lead.

In the second period Boston had its way on the power play again. Conroy went back to the box for hooking at :31 which set up David Krejci for a wrist shot from the left circle at 1:29 that got through traffic and beat Kiprusoff high. Zdeno Chara got in on the mix after Rene Bourque took a goaltender interference call when he  plowed through Thomas at 4:34. Chara activated on the next series and took a feed from Krejci in the slot in front of Kiprusoff with enough time and space to choose the location of his wrist shot, high over the stick-side shoulder for the 3-0 lead.

Patrice Bergeron recorded his 17th goal of the season at 4:24 in the third period when he used Conroy as a deflector shield with a shot from the goal line that he put off the center’s knees to beat Kiprusoff. Mark Recchi would match Bergeron with his 17th of the year 1:31 later at 5:51 when he dove for a Sturm rebound to beat Kiprusoff and end the netminder’s night as Toskala came in to replace him.

Bruins’ defenseman Johnny Boychuk received a five-minute elbowing major and a game misconduct at 7:21 in the third when he went in for a hit on in the corner against Rene Bourque with his forearm/elbow raised high enough to catch the Flames’ forward flush across the face.

Three Stars

David Krejci — The center has been on fire of late with eight points (three goals, five assists) in his last five games. Scored the second power play goal and helped set up the third.

Zdeno Chara — The captain had his first multi-point game since a three-point effort on Dec. 23 against Atlanta with a power play goal and an assist. Chara now has six multi-point games for the season.

Tim Thomas — The reigning Vezina Trophey winner was solid for Boston in picking up his 16th win of the year with his fifth shutout.

Turning Point — Chara’s goal was the one that sent the Bruins on their way to a victory without looking back over their shoulders for pursuing Flames. He was set up on the power play by Milan Lucic and Krejci to the point where he could skate down the slot with space straight at Kiprusoff and pick his target for the 3-0 lead.

Key Play — Seidenberg’s strike in the first period broke what was basically and 0-for-March power play for the Bruins. He combined with to make Team Dennis with fellow defenseman Dennis Wideman as they shuffled the puck along the point in the first period to the point that Seidenberg had enough space to pull off a one-timer from the high slot at 14:08 that was heavy and had eyes to the back of the net.

Read More: David Krejci, Dennis Seidenberg, Johnny Boychuk, Mark Recchi
First period summary: Bruins-Flames at 1:45 pm ET
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The Black and Gold faithful have not seen that in a while.

Boston broke its power play funk at 14:08 into the game with its first chance on the man-advantage. The penalty was set up by Mark Recchi who had a point-blank chance on Flames’ goaltender Miikka Kiprusoff and was hooked to the ground in the process by Craig Conroy. On the ensuing power play the Bruins cycled from the corner to the blue line where the double Dennis tandem of Seidenberg and Wideman exchanged the puck with Wideman turning it back to Seidenberg in the high slot for a one-time slap shot that had eyes all the way to the back of the net at 14:08.

The strike breaks the Bruins scoreless power play streak at 0-for-22. Their last man-advantage goal was a Marco Sturm second period strike on March 9 against the Maple Leafs.

Tim Thomas got the nod for the Bruins and was solid in the first period in shutting down the Flames 12 shots on goal. The Bruins have the edge in the shot department heading into the second with 14 total on Kiprusoff.

Defenseman Mark Stuart sustained some type of injury to his face in the final minute of the period and skated off the ice straight into the tunnel and the dressing room.

Read More: Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Recchi, Mark Stuart, Miikka Kiprusoff
Bruins wary of Thrashers 03.22.10 at 1:42 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Question: Where the heck did the Thrashers come from?

All of a sudden the hockey team from Atlanta is a point behind the Bruins for the eighth playoff spot in the Eastern Conference with a chance to jump Boston if it can win on home ice Tuesday night. This from a team that just about everybody had counted out after they traded one of the best goal scorers in the league in the form of Ilya Kovalchuk to the Devils on Feb. 4.

“Well they picked up some pretty good players along the way,” coach Claude Julien said. “[Clark] Macarthur from Buffalo and obviously in the New Jersey deal they got a pretty good defenseman out of it (Johnny Oduya) who I think is underrated. They have got a pretty good team, they are getting good goaltender right now and I thin they are pretty confident. It is a good challenge for us tomorrow … we know that when we play well and how we can, we are capable of beating any team.”

After losing five our of six to start the month of March, the Thrashers have caught fire of late with four straight wins over Phoenix, Buffalo, Ottawa and Philadelphia. One could say that the Trashers wins over the Flyers and Senators were favors to the Bruins (both teams are three points ahead of Boston with 79 points) but it is a paradox that fans in the Hub would preferably not explore — have a team behind them get hot and take points from the teams ahead only to come and steal their playoff spot.

The win over the Rangers was good for the psyche of the Bruins. Their practice on Monday morning was lively and boisterous, which has not always been the case at Ristuccia in 2010. That being said, New York is not exactly a team burning down the barn.

“Atlanta is more dangerous because Atlanta is playing good,” Tim Thomas said. “New York is just hanging in there and Atlanta has been charging from behind. I think Atlanta will be the bigger test. It is always in our hands we just got to get timely goals like we did against New York and try to keep them off the board as much as possible.”

The Bruins looked like a much different team on Sunday against the Rangers than they did last Thursday in the grudge match verse the Penguins. The mood around the team was quite different from game to game whereas Boston seemed a little tight with all the scrutiny around the Pittsburgh game that was not as present against New York.

“I think Pittsburgh was a little bit of a wake up call,” Johnny Boychuk said. “You got to come out and play. You can’t take any day off especially since we are battling for the playoffs. Last night everybody came to play and we battled and stood up for each other. We just wanted it. That was the difference between both games.”

Thomas admitted that the flu bug was a problem on Thursday and Boychuk said that it had a tough 24-hour effect on a bunch of members of the team.

“We knew they were both important games and we came up big in one and not in the other,” Thomas said. “We had a lot of guys sick against Pittsburgh. You hate to say that plays into it, but it does. Let’s face it, Pittsburgh and New York are two different teams.”

– Patrice Bergeron is going out of his way to get in touch with Matt Brown, the Norwood High hockey player who broke his neck in a hockey game in January. Brown is in Atlanta at the Shepard Center for Rehabilitation undergoing treatment.

“I have been through similar stuff and I know it is tough to sometimes stay positive,” Bergeron said. “You get frustrated. It is something that I want to share with him and I am excited to go see him, him and his family. We prepared a little bag of stuff to remind him about Boston a little bit. Some movies, some stuff different professional teams in Boston, some clam chowder and stuff like that. I hope he is going to like it and it is going to be fun to first meet him and see how he is doing.”

Here is the practice participation by sweater color:

White — Milan Lucic, Miroslav Satan, Vladimir Sobotka

Grey — Blake Wheeler, David Krejci, Michael Ryder

Yellow — Patrice Bergeron, Mark Recchi, Marco Sturm

Red — Daniel Paille, Steve Begin, Shawn Thornton, Brad Marchand

Defense — Dennis Wideman, Andrew Ference, Zdeno Chara, Dennis Seidenberg, Mark Stuart, Matt Hunwick, Johnny Boychuk

Goaltenders — Tuukka Rask, Tim Thomas

Read More: Claude Julien, Johnny Boychuk, Patrice Bergeron, Tim Thomas
The Hat Trick: Bruins can’t save the work for the third 03.15.10 at 10:43 pm ET
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Blake Wheeler is checked by Bryce Salvador while setting up in front of goalie Martin Brodeur during the Bruins' loss to the Devils Monday night. (AP)

Blake Wheeler is checked by Bryce Salvador while setting up in front of goalie Martin Brodeur during the Bruins' loss to the Devils Monday night. (AP)

Before we go any further into the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Devils on Monday night, let’s get one thing straight: This wasn’t a Jacques Lemaire or Pat Burns-coached team that the Bruins fell to Monday night. It wasn’t a fall-behind-by-one-and-the-game’s-over scenario, as many who have followed the Bruins have grown accustomed to when it comes to playing the Devils. And while the Devils are a very viable Cup contender this year, this wasn’t a throwback to the mid-’90s-on torture that the black and gold have fallen victim to.

This was a struggling team going against a struggling team (the Devils, currently fourth in the conference, entered the evening 4-5-1 over their last 10 games) and struggling.

On Monday night we saw plenty of the Bruins’ flaws highlighted. Whether it was the painful uncertainty in net that led to Tim Thomas being yanked after 20 minutes of decent play accompanied by bad luck and big rebounds (for what it’s worth, only Zach Parise’s goal can be blamed on Thomas — Scott Niedermayer’s was the result of a screen and David Clarkson’s a breakaway), a missed opportunity at physically setting the tone (Milan Lucic’s dasher to the face) or the lack of consistent offense, it was all there in a rough night for Claude Julien and the gang.

The Bruins are still hanging onto the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference by just one point, with their 72 points narrowly edging the Rangers’ 71. Still, in a prospective matchup with the top-seeded Capitals (who are 2-0 against Boston this year and have outscored the Bruins by a margin of 8-2 in their two meetings), the playoffs might just be a formality —  a quick stop on the way to yet another offseason filled with questions of how the Bruins can return to prominence for good.

It wasn’t all bad, though. The offense, aside from being snakebitten when it comes to getting multiple tallies in the third (see below), peppered New Jersey netminder Martin Brodeur with 15 shots in the final 20 minutes, and after being outshot 22-21 through two periods, ended the game having outshot the Devils, 36-28. Here is the hat trick of lessons learned in close-but-not-close-enough match at the Prudential Center.

Read the rest of this entry »

Read More: Boston Bruins, Milan Lucic, New Jersey Devils, Tim Thomas
Bruins cannot hold leads, fall to Maple Leafs 03.09.10 at 9:42 pm ET
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Summary – Without two of their biggest stars the Bruins struggled to put the Maple Leafs away on Tuesday and ultimately fell to Toronto 4-3 in overtime. Nikolai Kulemin had the game-winner for the Leafs with 49-seconds left in the extra frame. Tim Thomas started for the Bruins and took the decision with 26 saves. The Leafs went with Jonas Gustavsson who was shaky but effective in stopping 26 of shots in the winning effort.

Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara was scratched for the game with a lower body injury. Center Marc Savard missed his first game after sustaining a grade two concussion after a hit from Pittsburgh’s Matt Cooke on Sunday.

Mark Recchi scored his 13th goal of the year in the first period when he caught the rebound off a Dennis Seidenberg shot from the point and banged it back into the net with Gustavsson out of position to the left of the crease. The Bruins killed three penalties in the period (one a 50-second 5-on-3) to stymy the Leafs chances heading into the second period.

The Leafs tied it in the middle of the second when Wayne Primeau found himself on an odd-man rush and beat Thomas five hole for Toronto’s first strike of the game. Boston went back ahead with on the power play during a two-man advantage when Dennis Wideman hit a slap shot from the point that deflected off Recchi’s stick straight on to that of Marco Sturm who banged it passed Gustavsson to make it 2-1 at the 13:49.

Once again, it would not last.

The Leafs Carl Gunnarsson broke back with his second goal of the season on a shot from the top of the circle that deflected off a Bruins’ player to make its way through Thomas to send send the game to the third tied at two.

The back and forth theme continued in the third. Patrice Bergeron scored a go-ahead goal on a rebound early in the period only to watch the Leafs come back when Luca Caputi swept a bouncing puck passed Thomas at 7:13. It was the third time in the game the Bruins went ahead by a goal only to have the Leafs tie it.

Three Stars

Mark Recchi — The veteran forward had a goal and two assists to help pace the Bruins.

Luke Schenn — The Leafs defenseman picked up two assists to give him 10 for the season.

Marco Sturm — Sturm scored his team-high 20th of the season and added an assist. It is the seventh time in his career that Sturm has registered a 20-goal season.

Turning Point — Caputi battled in the crease with Thomas and Boston defenseman Mark Stuart for a loose puck seven minutes into the third period. Thomas could not corral the bouncing puck and Stuart was a step to slow in trying to clear it and Caputi swept back into the play to push it passed Thomas and tie the game at three.

Key Play — Toronto center Mikhail Grabovski raced down the left wing in overtime and had enough time and space to pick out Kulemin on a parallel rush down the center towards Thomas. Grabovski made a good pass, Kulemin took a step to his left and beat Thomas for the game winner.

Read More: Jonas Gustavsson, Marco Sturm, Mark Recchi, Nikolai Kulemin
Bruins road win streak halted by Penguins 03.07.10 at 5:40 pm ET
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Summary — For the last time ever in the regular season the Bruins travelled to Pittsburgh to play in Mellon Arena against the Penguins and came away  losers by a 2-1 score in a Sunday matinee. Tim Thomas got his third straight start for Boston and took the loss with 27 of saves. The Penguins Marc-Andre Fleury took the decision with 15  stops. The loss snaps the Bruins five-game road winning streak.

The Penguins jumped all over Boston in the third but Thomas stood tall in the losing effort after getting peppered through most of the period. Thomas did give up the game-winner early in the final frame to superstar Evgeni Malkin on a dump shot through a screen down the right wing.

After a scoreless first period the Bruins struck first on the power play when Blake Wheeler was able to sweep a loose puck out from under Fleury at 3:12 in the second. The Penguins came back about five minutes later when Pascal Dupuis put the puck in a scrum in the crease in front of Thomas and banged on it until it trickled passed for the equalizer at 8:57.

Bruins’ center Marc Savard took a hit and elbow to the head late in the third period by Penguins’ forward Matt Cooke. He was carted off the ice on a stretcher. No word on the type or severity of the injury but a concussion would seem likely. Cooke was not issued a penalty for the hit.

Patrice Bergeron played his first game since the Olympic break after sitting the previous three with a groin injury. Tuukka Rask is still listed as day-to-day with a minor knee injury and did not dress.

Three Stars

Marc-Andre Fleury — The Penguins goaltender picked up his 31st win of the year with steady play and a solid defensive effort in front of him.

Evgeni Malkin — The “other” superstar in Pittsburgh scored the go-ahead goal for his 23rd strike of the year early in the third period.

Blake Wheeler — The sophomore forward scored the first goal of the game for only his second strike in 17 games when he tallied on the power play in the second period. The goal was his 14th of the year.

Turning Point — The start of the third period was where the Penguins turned on the heat. Malkin scored the go-ahead goal early in the period and the Bruins could not slow Pittsburgh down the rest of the game as the Penguins dominated the positional play in the final frame.

Key Play – The Penguins new addition of Alexei Ponikarovsky at Wednesday’s trade deadline paid dividends in the third period. Malkin came down the right wing on the rush and threw a dump shot on Thomas that passed through a moving screen by Ponikarovsky on its way to the back of the net. Pittsburgh turned on the heat after that and pressured the Bruins for the rest of the third on its way to the victory.

Read More: Blake Wheeler, Evgeni Malkin, Marc Savard, Marc-Andre Fleury
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