|Bruins react to an honest scare||10.02.10 at 5:53 pm ET|
BELFAST — The Bruins went into Belfast, beat the best squad the Elite League could put together by a four-goal margin (5-1), and Boston fans have two more Tyler Seguin goals to ogle over. So what’s the problem?
The problem is that they didn’t beat the Giants select team as handily as the score might suggest, as the Belfast squad played them very tight through the first period and and half. Though the team reacted to falling behind, 1-0, in the second period by firing off three quick goals and adding two more in the third, they admittedly were given a run for their money on Saturday night.
So what went into the jittery play out of the gate? For starters, the Odyssey Arena crowd — which holds 7,100 people — may have given the TD Garden (17,565) a run for its money when it came to decibles before the game. When the Bruins — scratch that, “Legendary Boston Bruins” — were announced, the place went nuts, and the fans seemed to know their stuff. The biggest cheers went to Zdeno Chara and Mark Recchi, but all of the players were showered with support.
“It was really loud,” Milan Lucic, who scored the Bruins’ fourth goal, said after the game. “I got a little bit of goosebumps there at the start of the game. I’ll be honest, it was a little nerve-racking to start the game.”
And did that carry over once the puck was dropped?
“It kind of looked like we were nervous, too. It almost looked like we were trying to do too much and they were just playing simple and kind of just getting the puck out every chance they got,” he said. “Obviously, they gave us a little scare by scoring that first goal, but I think it was a good finish to that second period and we were able to play more consistent in the third period.”
At the end of the first period, it seemed almost comical that the Bruins could find themselves in such a tight game with an opponent of such a lesser league. The Giants, who got their lone goal in the second period from Jade Galbraith, actually had the two best scoring opportunities of the period.
“They did, for sure,” Tuukka Rask said of the Giants having solid opportunities on him. “Right in front, but you could tell that they didn’t have the patience that maybe the NHL guys would have to hold onto that puck and find the extra corner to put the puck in. They definitely had some chances, and they really deserved them too.”
Once the Bruins got things going — it all started with Seguin and Michael Ryder crashing the net to produce the rookie’s first of the game — there was no looking back. It was clear they were the better team, and even when the Giants outplayed them for stretches early, the clear difference in talent remained apparent. Even so, it seemed to take the Belfast goal being scored to act as the splash of water to the face that the Bruins needed.
“I try to just keep the game tight all the time, and I think the guys woke up after their first goal and realized that we can’t afford to lose this game, because the skill level should be on our side for us to win that game,” Rask said. “They got the first goal, got some energy, but then the skill level came up. We scored three goals in like a minute or so, but give credit to them. They really battled and they wanted to win that game.”
All in all, the Bruins made no lie about what they ended up going against, whether or not they were expecting it. Shawn Thornton, who had two helpers in the game, didn’t see why the Giants wouldn’t have played as well as they did.
“This isn’t taking anything away from them, but a lot of those guys have never had the chance to play in the NHL or get an NHL game, and this is probably as close as they’re going to get, so I knew they’d be giving it all they had,” Thornton said. “I’ve played with a number of those guys, I’ve played against them and I know they character of them. A few years ago I was in the same shoes as them, not thinking I’d ever get a game. When you get a chance to show what you have, you’re definitely going to show what you have.”
Nobody should be surprised with how hard the Giants came out playing on Saturday night. From Claude Julien to every player asked about it in the locker room, the Bruins have said time and time again that they were expecting the best game of the Elite League players’ lives. Even so, it sure was interesting to see it last as long as it did.
|Video: Tim Thomas hopes to see game action Wednesday||09.28.10 at 5:23 pm ET|
Claude Julien said on Tuesday that Tim Thomas, recovering from offseason hip surgery, could see game action on Wednesday at TD Garden against the Capitals. It will be the team’s final North American preseason game before the Bruins (and the Big Bad Blog — keep it tuned) head to Belfast and Prague, where they will play two exhibitions and open the regular season with two tilts with the Coyotes.
“There’s a good possibility that we’ll see him play tomorrow,” Julien said. “You know, again, I say good possibility. It depends on how today goes and then there’s tomorrow. If everything goes well, I think we’d like to see him in out lineup.”
Tuukka Rask and Nolan Schaefer are the goalies on the roster for Tuesday night’s game in Washington. Here’s the video of Thomas speaking after taking the ice:
|Expect Friday morning’s lines on Saturday||09.24.10 at 6:19 pm ET|
Those excited to finally hear that Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton skated on a line in Friday morning’s practice are in luck. Same goes for those gushing about the PPF (past, present, future — stick tap to ESPNBoston’s Joe MacDonald on the name) line consisting of 42 year old Mark Recchi and 18 year old Tyler Seguin with Patrice Bergeron, 25, in the middle. Claude Julien indicated that the lines from the earlier of the team’s two sessions will likely be the same ones that take the ice Saturday night at the Garden against the Panthers.
“Our lineups should be pretty close to what you saw this morning in the first group,” Julien said Friday. “So if you took note of that, that’s pretty close. I always say that because tomorrow morning something may happen or we might make a change here or there. But what you saw in the first group is, if everything goes according to how it should, it should be pretty close team for tomorrow.”
Chiarelli also said that Tim Thomas, who practiced on Friday, will not be in net for the Bruins. By process of elimination, expect Tuukka Rask, the only other goalie in the first group Friday, to get the start.
|Julien: Thomas will practice, travel||09.21.10 at 3:51 pm ET|
With Tim Thomas a notable absence from Tuesday’s practices, it is only natural to wonder just how much his workload will be cutdown as far as the short-term future goes. Thomas is recovering from offseason hip surgery, and after making appearances at captain’s practice earlier this month was held out of Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage.
Claude Julien, who has said that the team is taking precaution with Thomas in the preseason, said Tuesday that keeping the 2008-09 Vezina winner out of practice was simply “part of the process of giving him a little bit of rest in between those hard workouts.”
Julien noted that Thomas is expected to practice Wednesday and travel with the team for its preseason matchups with the Canadiens and Panthers. He did indicate, however that Saturday’s game against the Panthers at the TD Garden might be the soonest that Thomas, 36, sees preseason game action.
Regarding Wednesday and Thursday’s games, Julien said that the team’s intention is to go with a separate squad for each game, with no players participating in both matchups.
|Tim Thomas missing from Tuesday’s practice||at 1:26 pm ET|
One day after the Bruins held goaltender Tim Thomas out of the team’s black/white scrimmage, the 2008-09 Vezina winner was once again missing when Group A took the ice for Tuesday’s practice.
Thomas is recovering from hip surgery and participated in some of the team’s captain’s practices earlier in the month in an effort to hopefully be at 100 percent by the time the Bruins begin their season next month in Prague. Even so, the team sees no use in rushing the 36-year-old back.
“Something that we’ve said right from the get-go, [is that] we’d monitor [him],” Bruins coach Claude Julien said Monday. “He’s had that surgery and we have to take our time to bring him [back].”
Julien added monday that though Thomas “is actually ahead of schedule” if anything, the team’s plan is to “bring him along slowly.”
|Tuukka Rask working on becoming a Bostonian||09.17.10 at 2:30 pm ET|
Finland native Tuukka Rask has done plenty in Boston so far as a goaltender. In his first full season splitting time with Tim Thomas in net, Rask led the NHL in both goals against average (1.97) and save percentage (.931).
Now, after bringing Finland to Boston, Rask is getting more acquainted with becoming a Bostonian. After spending a couple of months in his native country, Rask did what he could to soak up the Boston atmosphere outside of hockey season.
“I had never seen Boston in the summertime, so I kind of wanted to see that. I was really impressed, it was awesome here.”
As such, his offseason activities included plenty of golfing — including charity tournaments for both Shawn Thornton and the Bruins foundation — and, like many locals this summer, taking in the Aerosmith/J. Geils Band concert at Fenway Park last month.
With fitness testing taking place Friday morning, the offseason fun is over for Rask, but if he continues what he started last season, his affection for the city will undoubtedly be reciprocated.
|Tim Thomas: ‘My play will do the talking’||09.13.10 at 2:24 pm ET|
BOLTON — Between rehabbing from a hip injury, coming off a season in which he lost his starting job down the stretch, and trying to remain a key piece of the puzzle, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas had plenty to talk about Monday at the team’s golf tournament in Bolton.
Thomas said the hip that was operated on following the season is feeling “pretty good” and that after skating a bit last week, has “passed every test we threw at it so far.” He’s not sure whether he’ll be cleared to go full throttle once camp opens Friday.
“I don’t know,” Thomas said when asked what his level of participation will be. “That’s going to be up to the trainers and physical therapists. It depends on how it reacts as it’s going along. You can’t really make a projection at this point.”
Thomas added that he and the medical staff will “evaluate it as it goes along” and that he should have a clean bill of health by the team the wheels touch down in Prague to open the season on October 9.
“That’s what we’re shooting for, is opening day of the regular season, 100 percent,” Thomas said. It’s been going pretty well. It might end up being 100 percent before that.”
Much has been made about what Thomas’ role with the team will be in the 2010-11 season. After getting the majority of starts in the regular season (43), Thomas saw Tuukka Rask take over as the team’s starting goalie in each of the Bruins’ two playoff series. The 36-year-old now must focus on proving naysayers wrong and splitting time with Rask once again.
“I thought it over over the summer, and I’m approaching it just like I did every challenge I had at every level going through,” Thomas said. “It’s a battle against yourself. I’ve proven in the past what I can do when I bring the best game that I have to the table, so it’s up to me just to do that.
“I was promised the same chance [as before], and that’s the way I’m approaching it,” he added. “I think I will [get a chance]. My play will do the talking. It’s in my hands. that’s the way I look at it.”