Boston Bruins

It was a night to remember for Thomas

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It was a night to remember for Thomas

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- "With Tim Thomas, anything is possible."

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was not exaggerating in his postgame remarks. Boston beat Montreal 2-1 in a double overtime grind and the win was largely owed to the Bruins goalie, who stopped 45 shots in 89 minutes of ice time on Saturday night. Montreal netminder Carey Price upped the ante by making 49 saves of his own.

"I've said before that I'm not really playing against Carey Price so to speak," Thomas said. "Tonight, I was in a game in a way. Whenever he made saves, I had to make sure that I made the saves because it was such a tight game."

Other than a third-period pair that made the score 1-1, nobody could get to the goalies.

But while Thomas's teammates are impressed, none are surprised.

"We wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for him," said Brad Marchand.

That's just Timmy.

Thomas is a Vezina trophy finalist for the second time in three seasons (he won the award in 2009). He is also one year off of hip surgery. The fact that Thomas did not enter this season as the No. 1 netminder now seems only like a bad dream. How? A 2.00 GAA (NHL best), .938 save percentage (NHL best), nine shutouts (one more than Price in 15 fewer games) and 35 wins do well to cloud a sub-par 2010.

So, excuse Thomas's teammates for their shrugs when asked about yet another brilliant performance.

"It's run of the mill, I guess," Andrew Ference laughed. "I mean, really, what do you say? We still get excited by some of the saves, but he does them every game. It's great. It's very reassuring to know that he's back there, to bail you out of some good plays."

That idea of reassurance and comfort rippled all around the locker room after Game 5.

"When you have a goalie who knows he's great -- and we know he's great -- he's going to go out there and give us a chance," said Ference. "It's a good feeling to have a guy like that."

Don't mistake their trust for complacency; the Black and Gold do not take Tim Thomas for granted.

"It's calming to have him behind us," Dennis Seidenberg said. "Having him in the back, always saving us games left and right, is a privilege. "

A privilege they enjoyed for the better part of Saturday night.

Boston matched their blocked shots with defensive breakdowns. Joe Halpren's goal -- the only one Thomas gave up -- was all but a disaster. Tomas Kaberle kicked things off with a soft attempt to clear the puck in the corner. Instead of sending it along the boards, Kaberle shuttled the puck to Adam McQuaid, who was swarmed with Canadiens and under the gun behind the net. Halpren had broken free of Gregory Campbell and intercepted McQuaid's pass. Thomas was left out to dry; Halpren buried one in the back of Boston's net.

The Bruins' lead was swallowed by a 1-1 tie for the rest of regulation.

"It was a matter of not giving up," Thomas said of the extra sessions. "Just staying with it and waiting for opportunities. Hopefully one of those opportunities goes in."

Montreal had a strong chance in the second overtime.

Less than five minutes in, another Bruins misfire turned into an opportunity on the other end. Johnny Boychuk took a shot on Price that sent the defenseman down to the ice. Price made the save and kicked the rebound out to Brian Gionta, which ignited a breakaway. Boychuk raced after the play but couldn't catch up, leaving Andrew Ference to handle a two-pronged attack by Gionta and Travis Moen.

Gionta passed to Moen; Moen got it back to the Canadiens captain.

"As soon as it left my stick, I thought it was going in," Gionta said.

He was stonewalled. Thomas gathered his speed and pushed post-to-post to rob Gionta of the brilliant bid. The save energized a tense crowd in the TD Garden. It also inspired the Bruins.

"We got into it," Ference said. "It was a great, great save. That's a hard save to make."

Nathan Horton's game-winner came less than four minutes later. How's that for a two-way street? Thomas works for his team, and they want to work for him.

"It made us think, 'Okay, let's win it now,'" Seidenberg said. "'He saved us from the loss and let's just do our best and repay him by winning, by scoring the next goal. Thankfully, it worked."

Maybe that's where Thomas finds his own comfort.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Morning Skate: Blackhawks looking for right mix on fourth line

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Morning Skate: Blackhawks looking for right mix on fourth line

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading. while readying for the last home game of the preseason tonight. Boy that went by quickly.

*Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville is looking for the right mix on the fourth line for the Hawks.

*The NHL is coming late to the China party and it makes one wonder what will happen for the Winter Olympic Games set to be played there in 2022.

*PHT writer Adam Gretz has the Arizona Coyotes wanting to retire the freshly-retired Shane Doan’s number in the future.

*Pittsburgh Penguins coach Mike Sullivan says that the decision to accept the White House’s invitation was independent of politics. Certainly, it was, but the timing of it and the feeble statement to go along with it left a lot to be desired.

*Pierre Lebrun goes 1-on-1 with Montreal Canadiens coach Claude Julien to talk about his past, his present and his future behind the bench with the Habs. I had always intended to subscribe to the Athletic, and this is the article that finally got me to do it as I get to read a few moments with one of the classiest individuals in the NHL in Julien. It certainly had a few rocky moments toward the end here in Boston for Julien, but I will always respect that guy as a coach and, more importantly, as a person.  

*For something completely different: an interesting look at Alejandro Villanueva, the only Pittsburgh Steelers player, and a proud veteran, to stand outside the tunnel and on the field for the national anthem prior to the Steelers game on Sunday.


 

'Under the weather' Chara won't play tonight after missing two days of camp

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'Under the weather' Chara won't play tonight after missing two days of camp

BRIGHTON, Mass – Zdeno Chara is one of the oldest players in the NHL at 40 and sometimes those players need a little more time to rest and recharge than the up-and-coming skaters half their age in training camp. That’s the case with Chara as he sat out practice on Monday feeling “under the weather” according to the Bruins. He didn’t skate on Sunday either and won’t play against the Chicago Blackhawks in Boston’s final home game of the preseason tonight.

Similarly, Kenny Agostino won’t be playing tonight after he suffered an upper-body injury in a victory last week over the Flyers, where the winger also scored the winning goal in overtime. Instead, a couple of young players will get further looks as Matt Grzelcyk is expected to be paired with Brandon Carlo and young Ryan Fitzgerald will get another look in the spot where a healthy Agostino might have drawn back into the lineup on Monday.

“We’re looking for [the young guys] to keep pushing, consistency and be strong on pucks as the lineups get stronger,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy. “We’re getting closer to NHL lineups with most teams like us and paring down, in general. The expectation is that they’ll see that 82 times. Fitzy has been a nice surprise. I shouldn’t say surprise because I didn’t know a lot about him. But he’s done what we’ve asked, so we’ll give him another game. The Agostino injury has opened up a door as he was probably a guy that would have gone back in after [Thursday] night, has played well and is another guy we don’t know a lot about. So it’s a good opportunity for [Fitzgerald]. I thought he was ahead of some of the other [young] guys, so that’s why we put him back in.”

Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings tonight with just two more exhibition games to go before the regular season gets started:

Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork

Beleskey-Spooner-Pastrnak

Schaller-Kuraly-Backes

Fitzgerald-Nash-Acciari

 
O’Gara-McAvoy

Grzelcyk-Carlo

Lauzon-Postma


Subban