Rested Thomas ready for playoff run

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Rested Thomas ready for playoff run

Tim Thomas ended up playing in 59 games this season, and it wasnt exactly an ideal situation for the Bruins.

The 37-year-old still made his customary 55 starts for the Bs, but it was the most overall appearances for the goaltender since he played in 66 games for Boston during the 2006-07 season. For a team that was trying to get their franchise goaltender a little more rest this season after playing 82 games last year between the regular season and playoffs, it wasnt how they sketched it out before the season.

Things essentially got tossed out the window once Tuukka Rask went out of the lineup with the strained groinabdomen at the end of February.

In hindsight I dont think theres anything that I would say thats perfect. Because Tuukka Rask got hurt, we had to use Thomas more. But having said that I dont think hes a tired goaltender. I think hes mentioned that, said Claude Julien. I dont see him being tired right now. Ive seen Tim tired before and I see the signsbut hes certainly not tired.

If anything he took the whole week off and avoided him traveling to Ottawa, which gave him even more rest. Weve got a few days here to work on our game and get ourselves sharpened up, and that includes Thomas.

But Thomas looked no worse for the wear after making 25 stops in Bostons 4-3 shootout win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday afternoon, and appears properly rested for a long, productive playoff run. There is still some question as to whether Tuukka Rask will be ready to fill in as his backup goaltender when they open up with the Washington Capitals on Thursday night.

But theres no question about Thomas readiness. In his last five games Thomas finished 4-0-1 with a .931 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average and is looking infinitely more like the guy that snagged the Conn Smythe Trophy last season. Perhaps he finally found his scientist-approved focus, and hes going to need it now that hes returning to the Washington DC scene of the crime where he skipped out on the White House visit back in January.

Its been scientifically proven you can only focus on one thing at a time. If you are out there playing in a game and you are getting ready for the playoffs then you probably should be focusing on that, said Thomas. I have been catching my breath. It was good to get back in a game right before the playoffs. Now we have a few days to prepare and hopefully be able to hit the ground running on Thursday.

What Thomas didnt explain is the new Warrior goalie pads he was featuring against the Capitals on Saturday. It remains to be explained if those are the pads Thomas will be utilizing in the playoffs, but he did wear one new pad and one older one during a practice last week.

That means Thomas only has the energy for the upcoming playoff run, but has some left over to tinker with equipment that the notoriously finicky is almost never completely satisfied with. But thats part of what has made Thomas so successful over the last five years, and its the reason every team in the NHL fears a well-rested Bs puck-stopper when the playoffs begin in earnest.

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.