One shot made it a lost night for Thomas

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One shot made it a lost night for Thomas

BOSTON -- It was a toss up for more than 56 minutes. One of the goalies was going to skate off the ice with a hard-earned win, the other with an oh-so-close loss.

Both Tim Thomas and Jose Theodore played well enough to take home the W, but with less than three minutes left to go, Tomas Kopecky found a way to get by Thomas for the Florida Panthers victory.

"The guy came down the wing and took the shot," Thomas said following the Bruins 2-0 loss. "The rebound kind of stuck there. I thought it was going to come off my pad a little harder on that. Sometimes it doesn't.But I believe on my first push to get over there, my foot slipped. I thought my 'D' was going to clear it, so I relaxed but then I realized he missed it and I didn't have time to get back over before Kopecky got a stick on it."

Theodore finished the night making 40 saves in net; Thomas made 28 (the Panthers' second goal from Kris Versteeg was an empty netter). The Bruins gave credit to Theodore after the game and were proud of their goalie as well.

Both goaltenders played well, including ours, even if that goal went in at the end, said Bruins coach Claude Julien. He made the save and we had two guys there who could have cleared the rebound, and we didnt. Im certainly not disappointed with his effort. He did what he had to do.

Kopecky knew he would have to work for a goal against Thomas. Scoring the game-winner against him didnt come easily.

I just wanted to make sure I got everything I had on it because hes a really good goalie, never gives up any rebounds, loose rebounds, Kopecky explained. So I just wanted to get it up and drive the net. We knew hes going to be playing hard. We knew its going to be a tight game, so after the second period we just said we need to stay patient.

Yet as time began to wind down, Thomas saw a heightened sense of urgency among both teams.

I noticed it because they get down toward the end there and they realize that one goal could win the game, he said. So they start pressing. Not necessarily taking more chances, but pressing a little bit harder.

The Bruins will look to come back hard in their next game, and expect another strong showing from their goalie.

"Timmy was good again," said Shawn Thorton. "He always has been, he always is. Thats a given nowadays, I think. I think we expect him to be at his best, and he is."

Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

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Thursday, Aug. 25: Nearly two decades later, the Whalers live on

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while in disbelief mode that the summer is almost over.

*Good piece on the remainders of the Hartford Whalers organization in Connecticut trying to keep the dream alive for the Whale.

*Tyler Seguin sits down for a podcast this week that I freely admit I did not have the time to listen to. I wonder if Boston even rated a mention in the conversation?

*Rating the top NHL contracts, according to the fancy stats hockey analysts, sounds like an interesting exercise.

*Tracey Myers has Duncan Keith bowing out of the World Cup of Hockey while recovering from an injury, and getting replaced by Jay Boumeester.

*The “Da Beauty” Hockey League has kept players like Dustin Byfuglien, Ryan McDonagh and David Backes in hockey shape this summer while slowly getting ready for the season.

*The Arizona Coyotes make a historic hire by naming Dawn Braid as skating coach, making her the first female coach in the NHL.

*For something completely different: FOH (Friend of Haggs) Rich Shirtenlieb guested on the #DORK podcast this week, and it sounds like he didn’t love “Stranger Things.” At the very least he liked “Preacher” better. I thought Preacher was entertaining, but I didn’t even think it was in the same stratosphere as Stranger Things. Rich also has me wanting to watch “It Follows” now, however, after his endorsement.

 

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

Bruins don't poll well in latest New England Sports survey

It’s no secret Bruins fans are getting fed up with a hockey team in decline, one that’s missed the playoffs each of the last two years. Now there are numbers to prove it.

Channel Media and Market Research, Inc. came out with its annual New England Sports survey,  tabulating responses from over 14,600 polled, and, according to the numbers, the Bruins are dropping in popularity, fan support and faith in the current management group.

The B’s are holding somewhat steady with 16 percent of voters listing them as their “favorite sports team” behind the Patriots (46 percent) and Red Sox (29 percent) while ahead of the Celtics and Revolution. Claude Julien also ranked ahead of John Farrell among the big four teams in the “coaches/manages most admired” category.

But after sitting at a relative high of ranking at 27 percent for “ownership performance” in 2014 -- they year after their trip to the Cup Finals against the Blackhawks -- the Bruins now rank dead last in that category at 2 percent, behind the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics and even the Revolution. Ouch, babe.

Also sitting at a lowly 2 percent is Bruins president Cam Neely in the “leadership performance” category. In "management performance," Neely has dropped from a solid 49 percent in 2014 to just 16 percent in this summer’s survey.

So B’s fans are clearly upset with a team that traded away Tyler Seguin, Johnny Boychuk, Milan Lucic and Dougie Hamilton, and has featured a decimated defense corps for each of the last two seasons. But do the B’s fans think that things are getting any better with prospects coming down the pipeline?

Not really.

In the “which team has done the best job making its product better.” category, the Patriots (35 percent) and Red Sox (31 percent) were resting at the top, with the Celtics (27 percent) a respectable third. The Bruins limped in at just 4 percent with a fan base that very clearly sees that, on paper, this upcoming season’s club doesn’t appear to be much better than last year's.

On top of that, only 13 percent of those surveyed believe the Bruins have gotten better over the last year, and 52 percent believe they’ve just gotten worse. A lowly 3 percent of those surveyed think the Bruins have the best chance of the five teams to bring a world championship back to Boston; the Patriots (79 percent), Red Sox (11 percent) and Celtics (5 percent) all ranked higher.

Finally, Zdeno Chara, Tuukka Rask and Jimmy Hayes were at the top of the list of the Boston athletes “who did not meet expectations” last season. None of that is a surprise, given the state of Boston’s defense along with Hayes’ subpar season.

The good news for the Bruins: They still have a passionate fan base. But they need to start reversing course immediately before they do lasting damage to the B’s brand.