Thomas turns it around against Rangers

720260.jpg

Thomas turns it around against Rangers

NEW YORK Tim Thomas never backs down from a challenge, but the 37-year-old goaltender also always knows when hes facing one.

So Thomas certainly knew he was 2-6-1 over the course of his career at Madison Square Garden heading into Sunday nights meaningful game against the New York Rangers, and that Henrik Lundqvist has had the better of him in their head-to-head matchups.

So it all became fuel to Thomas fire heading into a game with the Northeast Division and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference on the table, and Thomas finished with a 33-save gem in a 2-1 victory over the Rags at Madison Square Garden.

It looked shaky early when the Rangers turned a Zdeno Chara slap shot off Jordan Carons leg into a Marian Gaborik partial breakaway goal that Thomas couldnt stop when the shot came in low. But that was it for a determined Thomas, who put up the wall following that first goal allowed.

This is a tough building to play in. Its dark. There are funny bounces all over the place. Plus theyre a good team and they play solid hockey, said Thomas. I felt pretty good, so from my own perspective I just wanted to stay focused and keep playing the way I was. So I just wanted to keep it going, and as things went on in the third I just wanted to make sure took it in regulation. I didnt want to play in overtime.

Im starting to see the puck in traffic and find it, and I think thats important. Im getting to where I need to be.

Instead Dennis Seidenberg fired a one-timer past Lundqvist after a quick Patrice Bergeron screen in front of the net, and Bergeron managed to squirt a puck through the Swedes pads on a hard-working power play in the second period.

That was all Thomas would need while making 15 saves in the third period, and standing up everything the Rangers could throw at them. It was clear New York finally started getting discouraged at the end of the third period when Ryan Callahan floated a floating, weak shot at Thomas with the Bs goaltender far out of the net without his stick.

It was a panic move in a 2-1 game with Bostons goaltender down and out of the play, but thats what Thomas can do to demoralize an opponent when hes at his puck-stopping best.

He was clearly at that against the Rags on Sunday, and Claude Julien pointed to a big right pad save on a hard-charging Marc Staal as one that everybody celebrated from the bench with a giant exhale.

The biggest thing for me was to come in and play a good, solid game and I thought we did, said Claude Julien. He saved his best for the end. Theres no doubt about that. We were looking at it from the bench and thought one of those pucks was going in, but he kicked it out. I thought was the save of the night. For two periods we did a good job in front of him, but they were a desperate team in the third trying to do anything they could to tie it up.

It was important for Thomas psyche to get a win at Madison Square Garden and beat Lundqvist this season after a few failed attempts, and now they have with both teams looking forward to a potential showdown in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Thomas will have to stop a lot of pucks between now and then, but hes looked up for it while going 5-1-1 in his tending turnaround over the last two weeks.

Bruins lose preseason opener to Blue Jackets in shootout, 3-2

bruins_blue_jackets_092616.jpg

Bruins lose preseason opener to Blue Jackets in shootout, 3-2

BOSTON – The Bruins ice a young lineup for their preseason opener against the Blue Jackets, and they got some solid results from the next generation of skaters ready to wear the Black and Gold. It wasn’t enough for the win, however, as Sam Gagner won the game in the shootout for the Blue Jackets by a 3-2 score after both Riley Nash and Jake DeBrusk dinged the left post with their first two shootout attempts.

DeBrusk, Danton Heinen, Brandon Carlo, Jakub Zboril and Austin Czarnik all had very strong games as young players vying for NHL roster spots with a couple of jobs potentially open at the NHL level.

DeBrusk set up Jimmy Hayes for Boston’s first goal, and Heinen redirected a Carlo point shot past Curtis McElhinney in the third period to tie things up.

Sonny Milano opened up the game’s scoring by beating Anton Khudobin to the short side on a play where the B’s backup goaltender was a little bit sloppy with his technique. Hayes scored to tie things up for the Black and Gold on a nifty transition play up the ice that embodied the “play fast” philosophy that Claude Julien is espousing.

Daniel Zaar added a goal for the Blue Jackets midway through the second period that again gave Columbus the slim one goal lead, but that evaporated in the final 20 minutes when Heinen redirected a Carlo point shot from the slot area past the Blue Jackets netminder.

The Bruins will get back at it with another home preseason game at TD Garden against the Detroit Red Wings on Wednesday night. 

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

gallery_slide_7_kevin_garnett_062215_0.jpg

Former Celtics teammates praise Garnett's passion and intensity

WALTHAM, Mass. – Like so many players who have spent part of their NBA journey having Kevin Garnett barking in their ear words of encouragement or just telling them to get the hell out his (bleepin’) way, you can count Avery Bradley among those who will miss the man affectionately known as ‘Big Ticket.’

Garnett recently announced his retirement after 21 NBA seasons, leaving behind a legacy that includes an NBA title won with the Boston Celtics in 2008.

Among the current Celtics, Bradley is the only current member of the team who played with Garnett in Boston.

When Bradley got the news about Garnett’s retirement, he said he sat down and wrote Garnett a letter.

“To let him know how much I appreciate him, how special he is to me,” said Bradley who added that his relationship with Garnett was impactful both on and off the court. “Kevin’s just an amazing person.”

Leon Powe, a member of the Celtics’ championship team in 2008 with Garnett, echoed similar praise about his former teammate.

“As a teammate, as a player, KG meant the world to me,” Powe told CSNNE.com. “Intensity … he brought everything you would want to the game, to the practice field, he was just non-stop energy.”

And when you saw it time after time after time with him, pretty soon it became contagious.

“The intensity just motivated every guy on the team, including me,” Powe said. “It made you want to go out and lay it out on the line for him and the team. You see how passionate he is. You see he’s one of the greats. And when you see one of the greats of the NBA going hard like that all the time, you’re like ‘Man, why can’t I do that? It trickled down to me and every young guy on the team.

Powe added, “He brought that every single day, night, morning, it didn’t matter. He brought that intensity. That’s all you could ask for.”

And Garnett’s impact was about more than changing a franchise’s fortunes in terms of wins and losses.

He also proved to be instrumental in helping re-shape the culture into one in which success was once again defined by winning at the highest levels.

“KG has had as big an impact as anybody I’ve been around in an organization,” said Danny Ainge, Boston’s president of basketball operations. “The thing that stands out the most to me about KG is his team-first mentality. He never wanted it to be about KG, individual success to trump team success. He lived that in his day-to-day practice. That’s something I’ll remember about him.”