Haggerty: Thomas quickly puts 'awful' game in past

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Haggerty: Thomas quickly puts 'awful' game in past

KANATA, Ontario It appears that a Conn Smythe and Vezina Trophy winner can still have his cage rattled.

Tim Thomas wasnt too thrilled with getting pulled from a tied game against the Columbus Blue Jackets heading into the third period last weekend, and he was determined to answer strongly in his next shot between the Bruins pipes.

I let in three goals. It was awful, said Thomas while dripping with a healthy dose ofsarcasm. In the back of your head youre like I dont want to let in three goals and be gone after two periods. I want to finish the game.

Its an uncomfortable feeling because youre not used to being in that situation.

The chance Thomas had been waiting for arrived Wednesday night in a Scotiabank Place setting where Thomas has dominated throughout his career, and he did that once again while stopping 47 shots en route to a 5-2 victory for the Bruins over the Senators.

The victory pushed Thomas and the Bs to the top of the Eastern Conference standings for the first time this season, and speaks to the reigning Cup champs simply winning through anything.

Watching Tuukka Rask replace him in the third periodto make 11 saves in the relief victory against Columbus definitely left an impression with the B's netminder, and he'd been waiting for his next chance to shine.Thomas was impenetrable through a game where the Bs were outplayed with Zdeno Chara missing, and held the fort in the first period when the Senators fired 13 shots on him. It started within the first 30 seconds of the game when the Sens attacked Boston off the opening faceoff, and Colin Greening fired on net in the ultimate wakeup call for a snoozing Bs bunch and their waiting goalie.

The shot came from the slot area thats normally Bostons no-fly zone when Chara is logging his 25 minutes of ice time, but it was wide open for business withthe Bruins scrambled to get their bearings. They never really did throughout the 60 minutes despite ending up with two points.

Luckily Thomas kicked out his left pad and knocked the puck away from harms way, and set a tone Ottawa would have to earn any offense coming its way. That ultimately got discouraging for the Senswhen defensemanErik Karlsson couldnt find a way through while firing slap shots from the far points. Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Chris Neil all worked in tight around the cage, butcouldnt shovel anything past Thomas near the left and right posts aside from a meaningless Spezza score in the third period among Thomas' 21 saves. Just the fact that the Sens were able to bully their way to the net and squeeze off 49 shots was something that left Claude Julien displeased following the teams third straight victory. There are too many soft spots without their 6-foot-9 stopper. Unfortunately that will be a way of life until Chara finds his way back into the lineup.

I was joking with the players that Zee is not that good that hes going to cut down the shots against by 28 or 25 shots," said Julien. "Were certainly a much better team than they were Wednesday. Were missing him because he plays big minutes against big players, but right now we just have to look at our game. This has got to do with every single one of our players letting their game slip.

As a team were going through a bit of a challenge right now and I dont think its because of injuries. I dont think were executing and I dont think were battling as much as we should be. Part of it is that our emotions arent as good as they were when we were going well. We need to pick up our game here."

So how does a hockey team pull out a game where it was outplayed, outshot and generally outhustled by its opponent?

A couple of nice individual efforts fromguys like Andrew Ference and Daniel Paille went a long way for the Bs, but nobody was shying away from giving Thomas credit for holding things together early in the game while Boston rediscovered its groove. The high number of shots and genuine scoring chances for Ottawa immediately drew Thomas into the game, and left him answering questions about his career dominance of the Senators organization. Thomas has 11 career wins at Scotiabank Place -- the most in any road arena during his career -- a save percentage approaching .950 and three shutouts at the home of the Senators.To say going to Ottawa puts him in his happy place is no understatement.

Thomas smiled and acknowledged the stats concerning the Senators. But thehumble goalie alsopointed out Wednesday nights effort had more to do with the fact he and his team havebeen pretty damned good this season. The Bs goaltender has improved to 14-5 on the season and is second behind St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott with a .940 save percentage that allowed him tojump back ahead of fellow B'sgoalie Tuukka Rask in their see-saw statistical battle.

Thomas insisted that its no magical formula when he walks into Scotiabank Place, and there were no mystical hockey powers at work when he turned away 10 shots in the final frenziedtwo minutes of action. The Sens made their last-minute rush, but they werent good enough attempting to get through Thomas.

Im 12-1 in my last 13 games. Its not necessarily Ottawa and its not Canada. I get asked this a lot. The team is finding ways to win right now, said Thomas. Whether were playing the best hockey we want to be playing or not, it might not be the case. But were finding ways to win and were having stretches where were playing good hockey.

I feel pretty good. But, for example, I felt better in the playoffs last year than the way I feel right now. Thats the way it should be, but I cant really compare much to last year at this point.

Thomas should feel good. Just as Tuukka Rask should feel good too. The Bruins are showing just three months into the season that theyve got the most dominant goaltending duo going in the NHL right now, and they're pushing each other.

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

Morning Skate: Pronger on his way to a GM job?

*Chris Pronger takes a job in the front office of the Florida Panthers and wants to be a GM in the NHL someday.

*It sounds like Alex Radulov is playing contract chicken with the Montreal Canadiens while demanding pretty massive term and salary demands.

*Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has a top-nine winger on his wish list after dealing away Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

*A good look from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jon Rosen into what the draft outlook is for the Los Angeles Kings entering this weekend.

*Ryan Strome is ecstatic about moving on from the New York Islanders and heading to the Edmonton Oilers where he’ll get a chance to fully utilize the skills that went under the radar in Brooklyn.

*Even without a high pick, the Buffalo Sabres and Jason Botterill will be making some moves at the NHL Draft.

*You want some talk about the Bruins prospects and their potential draft targets for the Black and Gold this weekend. Here’s FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kirk Luedeke on with a podcast up in Maine called the Bruins Diehards talking all of that good stuff just a couple of days ago.

*Philadelphia Flyers GM Ron Hextall is going searching for another goalie after once again deciding that Philly needs more help between the pipes. This seems to be a perpetual situation for this group, doesn’t it?

*Jeff Marek has his final 2017 NHL Mock Draft up and running, and he has St. Cloud State forward Ryan Poehling headed to Boston with the No. 18 pick.

*Apparently Linda Cohn wants to push out Gary Bettman and take over as NHL Commissioner when her contract is up with ESPN. Well, okay then.

*It was a little emotional and totally uplifting to see Denna Laing getting saluted at the NHL Awards ceremony. I’m so glad that my daughter has strong role models like Denna that show young women what courage and character are all about.

*The rumor mill is getting worked up at NHL Draft weekend, and it sounds like the Minnesota Wild are going to be busy potentially dealing Jonas Brodin, Marco Scandella or Jason Pominville in the next week or two. Certainly, the Bruins have been front and center in those discussions, but it remains to be seen if something gets done.

*For something completely different: The glowing reviews are coming in for the new Netflix series, GLOW, and it doesn’t sound like a fun concept.

 

Report: Bruins among several teams interested in Wild's Scandella

Report: Bruins among several teams interested in Wild's Scandella

CHICAGO – The Bruins missed out on the first flurry of defensemen traded on Friday morning, but they may be in on the second wave of quality D-men expected to be made available around the NHL Draft.

The Bruins are one of several teams actively in discussions with the Minnesota Wild about defenseman Marco Scandella, who fits the profile of what the B's are looking for to fill a top-four role. TVA’s Ren Lavoie was the first to report the latest interest but the Bruins have long been watching the Minnesota back-end situation waiting for one of their defenders to become available.

Scandella, 27, is big, at 6-foot-3, 205-pounds, he’s got a few years of NHL experience, he’s a left-handed shot and he’s already proven he can be a top-four defenseman in the NHL. Scandella is coming off a so-so season with the Wild where he posted four goals and 13 points along with a minus-2 rating in 71 games. and for the first time in three seasons, he averaged under 20 minutes of ice time for the first time in the past three seasons.

RELATED: Haggerty's Mock Draft 4.0: Expect a frenzy of pre-draft trades 

Scandella would be a good potential fit on the left side in a top-four role playing in a pairing with Charlie McAvoy as the B's look for a good, mobile partner that can play at both ends of the ice. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they are clearly not the only team in the running for the Montreal-born Scandella. One of those teams is his hometown Montreal Canadiens, who are hungry for a few D-men after losing several in the past couple of weeks.

There are other names filtering out of Chicago as the draft gets underway tonight. One of the more interesting D-names is Massachusetts native Noah Hanifin. The former Boston College standout is rumored to be available as the Carolina Hurricanes look to bring some star power in at the forward position. He was the player Boston initially wanted in the draft a couple of years ago before standing pat and selecting Jakub Zboril as one of three consecutive first-round picks.

There doesn’t seem to be a match for Hanifin with David Pastrnak as the only realistic option to be going to Carolina in return and that’s not something the Bruins are going to entertain with one of their cornerstone roster pieces. Still, it’s encouraging that so many quality D-man names are emerging on the trade market with Don Sweeney and the Bruins looking to get down to business this weekend.