Notes: Thomas ready to take on the Bell Centre

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Notes: Thomas ready to take on the Bell Centre

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

WILMINGTON, Mass. Tim Thomas is raring to go against the Montreal Canadiens.

He knows his career numbers against Montreal are among the worst he has against any team, and his body of work at the Bell Centre is less than stellar. Hes 10-14-4 with a 3.05 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage in 28 career games against the Habs.

Despite all of that, along with the hate expected to be brewing on the ice, Thomas thinks hes thoroughly ready to go against a Habs team that should bring the best out of him a scary thought for Canadiens players looking for weaknesses in the game of a goalie that set an NHL record with a .938 save percentage this season.

It gets me into the game. I generally have problems with the teams that are overly nice to me, which is kind of weird. When everybody is just playing hockey the way you need to do to get wins, it just helps me get into the game, said Thomas. It happens in most series no matter who youre playing against. At this time of year whoever the team is lined up against you, thats the team you have to go through in order to get to your goal. Thats the way were going to approach it.

Thomas, 36, admitted that he used to get too keyed up to play at the Bell Centre during playoff games against the Canadiens when he would really drink in the frenzied atmosphere around him. But he quickly realized he cant do that and also be ready to play against a team with such talented offensive playmakers as Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri and P.K. Subban.

We have quite a few guys that have played there in playoff atmospheres, and hopefully that works out for us, said Thomas. The Bell Centre was never disorienting or dizzying. It can be one of the most fun places to play. Its just got a lot of energy and youve got to channel it to the good.

Sometimes you have to block the energy so you remain focused and calm, and other times you can use the energy. The atmosphere can make it easier or harder. Its usually up to you. During the national anthems theres a lot of energy and its really loud. My first year there in the playoffs I was trying to really take in the atmosphere and stuff, but then when they first dropped the puck it really messed me up for the first few minutes of the game at least.

Thomas said he has indeed played in the Lake Placid rink before, as part of the ECAC tournament finals when he played goaltender for the University of Vermont. Thomas was looking forward to spending a couple of days at the former US Olympic site between Games Three and Four in Montreal.

The college Catamounts simply drove in and out of the rink when he played there.

I hadnt put to much thought into it until I was asked about it. It ought to be interesting to go to the site of 1980 Miracle on Ice, said Thomas. It looks like Ill have a little more time to walk around the town. It was the biggest influence on my life as a hockey player, by far.

Itll be a place to get away outside of Montreal. Zdeno Chara probably wont need a security guard there than he would be in Montreal. Its a lot better than being in Montreal and being a part of the circus.

Tyler Seguin isnt expected to play, at least at the start of the series, and coach Claude Julien hopes the youngster takes something from the first games or two against the Canadiens that he may be able to potentially use on the ice later in Bostons playoff run.

This is a chance for him to grow no matter how he plays or how much he doesnt play, said Seguin. There is something to be learned while being a part of a team in the playoffs.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com.Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.