Chara, Bergeron 'surprised' at Thomas sitting out season


Chara, Bergeron 'surprised' at Thomas sitting out season

LAS VEGAS, NV Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron represent the bedrock of the leadership group with the Bruins dressing room. Theyre assisted by sage veterans like Chris Kelly and Andrew Ference, but its always been Chara and Bergeron addressing any issues within the Bruins dressing room head on.

So with both Chara and Bergeron at the Wynn Resort and Casino for the NHL Awards, it was finally time for the team conscience to weigh in on their All-Star goaltender walking away from the team.

Both said they were surprised that Tim Thomas has ostensibly decided that he doesnt want to play for the Bruins in the 2012-13 season, and that perhaps both parties were better off now.

I was surprised . . . I think I was surprised like everybody else, said Chara, while chatting with the media as a finalist attempting to win his second career Norris Trophy. Obviously he never mentioned anything to me, or maybe us as a team. But thats his decision. He probably has to deal with it.

Though Thomas never officially closed the door on playing next season during his infamous Facebook post about leaving hockey for friends, family and faith, it sounds like his Bruins teammates have already moved on.

Hes a mature person. If he says something then Im assuming he means it, said Chara. If he changes his mind then he changes his mind. But we have to be ready without him, and its as simple as that.

Chara said he hasnt been in contact with the 38-year-old goaltender after playing for Team Slovakia in the World Championships, and then taking his family to Florida to decompress for a few weeks after hockey season was over.

I was in the middle of spending some time with my family and really trying to stay away from hockey for a little bit, said Chara.

Bergeron was similarly surprised upon hearing the Thomas news, but has full faith that Tuukka Rask is ready for a starting job at 25 years old.

I was obviously surprised. Nobody was expecting it, said Bergeron. But at the same time its his decision. He said that it was to spend more time with his family and youve got to respect that.

Theres nothing I can say or judge that could make a difference. Im not one to judge. I know that Im fully confident in Tuukka that hes going to do the job. Hes obviously really young and hes got a lot of years ahead of him. Its a chance for him to seize the opportunity . . . I think hes ready to do that. For us its about doing the same thing weve been doing for the last couple of years and do the job.

The pathway is now clear for both Rask and 26-year-old Anton Khudobin to carve their own niches into the goaltending fraternity with Thomas out of the picture. Thomas was brilliant in winning two Vezina Trophies, a Stanley Cup and becoming a perennial All-Star goaltender.

But it also sounds like the Bruins decision-makers are ready for the dawn of a new era between the pipes in Boston.

Bergeron 'feeling good' in return, plays role of third period hero

Bergeron 'feeling good' in return, plays role of third period hero

BOSTON – It certainly feels appropriate that Patrice Bergeron would author a clutch game-winning goal late in the third period of his first game back after missing a week of games with a lower body injury. That Bergeron’s game-winner also arrived in the home opener at TD Garden was an added bonus once No. 37 hammered a shot from the high slot with 1:15 to go in the third period to give the Bruins their first lead of the game in a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden.

The goal arrived courtesy of a nifty setup from linemate Brad Marchand working behind the New Jersey net, and also thanks to David Pastrnak winning a battle in the corner thanks to newfound grit in his game. But the hero of the day again turned out to be No. 37, who went from missing an entire week of action to reclaiming his center role on the top line, playing 16:49 of ice time and winning 13-of-24 face-offs while generating five shot attempts.

“I think it’s pretty obvious with what he did [against the Devils]. After being off for over a week and to come back and have one practice with us then back into the game, he scores a clutch goal for us. That’s what he has always been, a clutch player for us,” said Claude Julien. “I think the third period we gave it a really good push there and I like seeing that from our team that you come out and you don’t play on your heels and you push hard and we went down by a goal but we got our game going like I said and we got a couple goals to win this for us.”

Bergeron modestly said postgame that he was just trying to get into the flow of the game after missing a healthy chunk of time with injury. But he certainly looked like he was vintage form once it crunch time. The timing was perfect as he stepped into the one-timer shot off Marchand’s pass, and beat Cory Schneider amid a strong 34-save performance by the kid from Marblehead.

“I mean I was just trying to, I guess, get my feet wet right away and use the first few shifts to kind of just get, feel good about my positioning and my skating,” said Bergeron. “As the game went on I just felt better. Of course you want to start on a good note, especially at home, and we talked about our home record in the last few years. We wanted to do the job early, especially in the first game, and it’s one step but we’re happy with it.”

It was like Bergeron didn’t miss a single beat after missing the first three games of the season with a lower body injury, and those kinds of instincts and natural ability are things worth marveling about when it comes to the Bruins.

“I was feeling good [on the ice],” said Bergeron. “It would have been nice to ride the wave of the World Cup, but that being said I thought in the first I was trying to be good position ally and kind of get myself going with the first few shifts, and just kind of go from there. Overall I thought that happened.”

While the comeback win was certainly good news for the Bruins, the best news of all is that Bergeron has returned to the lineup with no signs of an injury that surprised everybody right before the start of the regular season.