Bruins respectfully move on from Tim Thomas era


Bruins respectfully move on from Tim Thomas era

Its safe to say the Bruins players had turned the page Bob Segar-style long before Thursdays deal that sent Tim Thomas to the New York Islanders.

Its a paper transaction as far as Im concerned, said Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton matter-of-factly of the deal that sent the former Bruins goaltender to the Isles in exchange for a second round pick in either the 2014 or 2015 NHL draft if Thomas ever reports to New York for goaltending duty.

Certainly there was still an appreciation for a Bruins goalie who made four All-Star appearances during his career in Boston, captured a pair of Vezina Trophies and led the Bs to an unforgettable Stanley Cup title in Conn Smythe style. No matter what Thomas believed politically or what he might have deigned to post on Facebook, his teammates supported him as long as the best goaltender on the planet was his closing act.

He was a great goaltender and I definitely appreciated what he did for this hockey club. You look at the solid five years that he put together was probably better than any other goalie in the league from 2007-08 to last season, said Milan Lucic. Obviously he was a big part of the team winning a Stanley Cup here and things didnt end off the way everybody had hoped. Its time for everybody to move on. But youve got to appreciate the effort he put forth for this hockey club because he did give it his all . . . hes got two Vezinas and a Conn Smythe to show for it.

Most teammates echoed Lucics sentiments about respect for Thomas contributions and perhaps a slight tinge of lament at the way things ended for him in Boston. Bruins coach Claude Julien stressed the respect word when speaking about Thomas, and the way he performed during the coachs five years managing the goaltender with the eccentric personality.

I have a lot of respect for Tim Thomas for what hes accomplished, said Julien. As a player: a two-Vezina Trophy winner, a Stanley Cup champion and an MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Hes done a lot. Even for those that view him differently as a person, I never had an issue with Tim. He had his own thoughts and ideas as a player and you run into that all the time as a coach.

There are different personalities in that dressing room that you deal with, and you learn as a coach that you have to respect them for who they are. It doesnt mean there arent times where you talked about the differences, but you always worked it out.

Tim wasnt a bad person and Ive been very clear on that. Hes a person that was pretty strong in his own views at times, but was never a bad person. Thats why we never viewed his as a distraction at times. He was a guy that thought differently. Guys said all the time that as long as he stops pucks then were okay with it.

The trade to the Isles became necessary when Thomas decided he no longer wanted to stop pucks for the Bruins, and instead opted to focus on faith, friends and family while putting Boston in a bind. The Bruins, in essence, were just happy to have the 5 million cap liability lifted from their books.

A year ago a Tim Thomas trade would have yielded much more than a conditional second round pick for the Bruins organization, but his value plummeted once he announced his NHL sabbatical.

But thats now the challenge for Islanders GM Garth Snow and the Isles players should Thomas ever show up at Nassau Coliseum with his goaltending gear ready to continue his NHL career.

The window has closed on his time in Boston, and everyone at TD Garden has respectfully moved on with their hockey lives.

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

Injuries have created a muddled picture with Bruins goaltenders

It’s hard to believe that it’s already come to this, but it might just be Malcolm Subban between the pipes for the Bruins on Tuesday night against the Minnesota Wild, and perhaps again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

The 22-year-old Subban has been pulled from two ineffective starts for the P-Bruins in four AHL starts this season (.846 save percentage and a 4.50 goals against average in four games) while coming back from last year’s fractured larynx injury. He's also a player the organization was uncertain enough about that they signed veteran backup Anton Khudobin to a two-year deal on the July 1 open of NHL free agency.

Subban attributed his start to a slow opening few weeks with a new P-Bruins roster of players, but that hasn’t stopped fellow P-Bruins goalie Zane McIntyre from putting up excellent numbers between the pipes in the early going.

But Khudobin went down with an injury mere minutes into Monday morning’s Bruins practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and Tuukka Rask been battling a nagging leg injury since the season opening win against the Blue Jackets.

So Subban was the last goalie standing on Monday as an emergency recall from Providence, and could be in line to play Tuesday night against the Wild if the Bruins medical staff can’t perform some Mr. Miyagi-style healing techniques on Rask or Khudobin.

“Khudobin got injured and couldn’t practice with us, but I haven’t heard anything yet [on an update],” said Julien following practice. “This is hockey. We deal with it on daily basis with the injuries. We wait for the news and then it’s about doing your job as it’s required. If we have to make some adjustments and have to have some different personnel, then we’ll deal with it when we have more of an update. Tuukka is still day-to-day, so nothing is changed there.

“We’re in a situation here where we’ll see what happens, and if [Subban] needs to go in goal then he’ll go in goal. It’s as simple as that. As a coach, there’s one thing that worries me and that’s ‘stop the puck.’ I’m not a goalie coach, so I’m just demanding on making the saves.”

Subban, of course, hasn’t been making the saves down in Providence early in the going there this season, and is entering the stage of his career where he needs to begin showing signs of being a potential No. 1 guy at the NHL level.

Fellow goalies from the 2012 NHL draft class like Andrei Vasilevskiy, Joonas Korpisalo, Matt Murray, Connor Hellebuyck and Frederik Andersen have all begun making their mark in the league, and Subban was selected higher than all of them except for Tampa’s Vasilevskiy. So in the final year of his entry level deal it’s high time for the 22-year-old to begin showing signs he can play in the league, whether it’s in Boston or elsewhere.

He admitted on Monday he might have been putting too much pressure on himself down in Providence while watching the injury issues play out with Tuukka Rask in Boston.

Subban was worried about the big picture of stringing together saves so he was the guy called up if the Bruins needed a goalie, and instead should have been focusing more on the present opponents at the AHL level.

“I put a lot of pressure on myself. I think anybody that knows me well knows that. I don’t like to let in goals no matter what happens, whether it’s breakdowns or not it’s my job [to stop the puck]. If there were no breakdowns then you wouldn’t need a goaltender,” said Subban. “I want to make every save and get a shutout every game. I think the biggest thing is just relaxing and playing, and knowing that it’s okay to let a goal in every once in a while.

“So I think in my position right now I’m supposed to be playing really well down there, and I think that go in my head a little bit. I was trying to get a shutout every game rather than going game-by-game and shot-by-shot. I was overthinking it too much. But collectively as a team we’re a new team and we were trying to get the chemistry together, and once we do that the D-zone will be better and the offensive zone game will come.”

If Subban does indeed get the emergency start on Tuesday night against the Wild, the Bruins just have to hope that it’s a better outing than getting pulled in his NHL debut against the Blues two seasons ago after allowing three goals on three straight shots to start the second period. They also have to hope that Rask or Khudobin get well quick given Boston’s shaky situation on defense in front of the goaltender, and the stretch they’re in of playing six straight opponents that qualified for last spring’s Stanley Cup playoffs.

If not then watch out below because every hockey person knows there’s no quicker way for a hockey club to really begin imploding than if the goaltending starts to become a major problem whether it’s because of injury, inconsistent performance or simply because of being a straight-up sieve.

McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup


McQuaid cleared to play, nearing return to Bruins lineup

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It was a bitter pill for Adam McQuaid to sit out the first five games of this season, but it looks like the veteran Bruins stay-at-home defenseman is nearing a return to the lineup. McQuaid was cleared to potentially play in Saturday’s loss to the Montreal Canadiens after an upper body injury kept him shelved for the team’s first four games, and could be approaching a return in the next few days as Claude Julien mulls a number of possible lineup changes.

“It was obviously frustrating, but I’m where I’m at now and trying to move on from it. Looking forward to getting back into the lineup hopefully as soon as possible here,” said the 30-year-old McQuaid, who had a goal and nine points in 64 games for the Black and Gold last season. “The excitement level is high for me, and it is for everybody after a loss when you’re looking forward to getting back out there.

“It would have been nice to have started the season with the guys, but you can’t change that now. I’ve had some good practices, and I’m just trying to my game as simple as possible, and take it as it comes. Obviously guys have played some games and it’s been a couple of weeks for me, so I’ll just have to keep my game simple.”

The B’s bench boss indicated it was only a matter of time before McQuaid makes his 2016-17 regular season debut, but that he’s got plenty of things to decide prior to dropping the puck against the Wild.

“[McQuaid] was cleared last game. I haven’t made any decisions based for [Tuesday night vs. Minnesota]. There’s a lot of things that are up in the air, and I’ve just go to juggle those things,” said Julien. “Who knows? Hopefully tomorrow morning I’ve got a better picture [of injury situation], and if not then it will be game-time decisions. I wish I could have a better answer [on if McQuaid will play], but I’ve got no answers right now.”

With Colin Miller (minus-4), Joe Morrow, Torey Krug (a rough minus-3 against Montreal) and John-Michael Liles all minus players after the first five games of the season, there are ample options for Julien on which potential blueliner to bump up to the press box. McQuaid is just happy he’s getting closer to a return while skating with 23-year-old Rob O’Gara at practice, and he can get back to helping a B’s team that’s smack dab in the middle (ranked 15th allowing 3.0 goals per game) of the NHL for team defense this season.