Notes: Thomas shrugs off domination of Canucks

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Notes: Thomas shrugs off domination of Canucks

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Tim Thomas has enjoyed the best regular season in the NHL's modern era of goaltending, stolen games for the Bruins during their playoff run, and journeyed deeper into the postseason than ever before.

And now, believe it or not, things are looking up.

The Canucks may have a high-powered offense, ready to strike at any time, but Thomas has owned them in his career. In three regular-season games against Vancouver, Thomas has stopped 97 out of 98 shots for a .990 save percentage. He has a perfect 3-0 record and boasts a pair of shutouts against the lineup featuring the NHLs wonder twins: Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

Thats as close to utter domination as a goaltender will ever achieve over one team, and it provides an interesting little sidelight heading into the Finals.

Thomas backstopped the Bs to a 3-1 win over the Canucks at Rogers Arena in February during their seven-game winning streak, and continued an impressive string of dominance against one of the NHLs best teams over the last five years.

As one might expect, Thomas isn't buying into any of the hype. After all, the regular-season games against the Canucks are one-shot deals during the season without the gravity of the playoffs.

The factors involved dont exactly give the proper reading on what will happen once playoff intensity and a chance at the Stanley Cup entered into the mix.

It really has no relevance," Thomas said. "Its kind of like, why did I have pretty good success against Ottawa? . . . . You know theres no rhyme or reason to it, it just happens to be the way its worked out.

There is no use dwelling on the success youve had before . . . What success you can have moving forward here over the next couple of games is whats going to be important.

Certainly, though, there's confidence in that he's enjoyed success against Vancouver and tasted victory in their building a pair of things that not every Eastern Conference netminder can say.

I havent thought about it that much, said insisted. I played against this team this year once. The other two times Ive played against Vancouver, its not even worth really comparing because they were a different team and we were a different team. I know the one game that we did win this season, it wasnt an easy game, and basically we had a one-goal lead for, you know most of the time.

I think we ended up getting a two-goal lead near the end. But it was a very tight game, so you can take a little bit of confidence that you won that one game. But it only goes so far.

Thomas might take a little confidence from the fact hes utterly confounded the Canucks during his head-turning run in Boston.

But you certainly wont hear him guaranteeing anything this time around.

Approximately 1,000 fans showed up at TD Garden Monday afternoon to cheer the Bruins as they departed via bus for their flight to Vancouver. Johnny Boychuk, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton stopped to sign autographs for fans, shake hands and take in the send off from adoring fans on their way out of Boston.

Thornton skated with the Rich PeverleyGregory CampbellDaniel Paille line during practice, and donned a gold jersey in the process. Coach Claude Julien anticipated the question about Thorntons switch in practice, and said it amounted to a few more reps for the Bs enforcer after sitting out the entire Tampa Bay Lightning series.

Well, I knew that question was going to come up and I even said it before practice, Julien said. I said, Four golds, somebody is going to ask me about it.

"They dont get the same amount of ice time those others do. And with Thornton not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. I wouldnt read more into it than it was.

Peverley spent time skating with the Brad MarchandPatrice Bergeron line, and alternated reps with Mark Recchi as hes done in the last few games.

Julien said he's seen the Stanley Cup during trips to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, but never had his picture taken with it.

All I said is, the day that I even get a picture or touch it will be the day Ive earned it, said Julien. Thats been my philosophy throughout my career as a coach.

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

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Haggerty: Trade flurry makes Bruins' road to the playoffs more slippery

Don Sweeney and the Bruins aren’t expected to be big players Wednesday at the NHL trade deadline, understandable since they've won six of seven under interim coach Bruce Cassidy.

But they might be feeling a little more pressure to do something as many Atlantic Division teams -- and Eastern Conference ones, for that matter -- are making moves.

The biggest headline-grabber occurred out of division as the Washington Capitals shipped a first-round pick, two forwards and a conditional second-round pick to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk and a young goaltender. Shattenkirk will turn the already explosive Capitals into a strong Stanley Cup contender, maybe even the favorite. And the pressure's on for them to deliver, since it’s expected the 28-year-old All-Star will head to the New York Rangers in free agency this summer. 

Shattenkirk had been linked to the Bruins in the past but they weren’t about to pay that exorbitant a price for a rental, not while they're still more rebuilder than contender even as they push for the playoffs. Moreover, the Bruins weren’t going to do a sign-and-trade for a player who's going to command a seven-year, $49 million deal on the open market and would ostensibly be blocking the top-4 development of both Brandon Carlo and Charlie McAvoy as stud, right shot D-men. 

Instead, expect the Bruins to invest heavily over the next year in a potential top pairing left-side defenseman who could eventually step in for Zdeno Chara. 

The highest impact moves that concerned the Bruins during Monday’s flurry of activity, however, were the divisional teams they’re competing with direction for playoff spots:

-- The Maple Leafs made a sneaky big move in shipping out a second-round pick to Tampa Bay for gritty, battle-tested, third-line center Brian Boyle, who will bring size, sandpaper and character to a young Toronto team pushing for the playoffs. 

-- Ottawa sent a prospect to Vancouver for bad boy Alex Burrows, whose claim to fame is biting Patrice Bergeron during the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals. The Senators and Bruins wplay each other three times in Boston’s final 20 games in the kind of matchup that could dictate the playoff fate for both clubs, and Burrows' cheap-shot antics will undoubtedly make the Sens a tougher team to play down the stretch. 

-- The Canadiens shored up their defense group by adding Dallas D-man Jordie Benn in exchange for young defenseman Greg Pateryn and a fourth-round pick. They did so before pulling off an important, come-from-behind win over the Devils on Monday night. 

The Bruins woke up Tuesday morning still holding their third-place spot in the Atlantic Division and still very much in control of their own destiny. But there’s no denying Boston’s competitors have all improved themselves. The gauntlet has been passed to Sweeney and the Bruins to do something smart for the long haul, but to also improve right now if the right deal presents itself. 

That could mean dealing off veteran players like Matt Beleskey or John-Michael Liles if there’s an interested party. It could mean picking up a cheap rental like Radim Vrbata or Dmitry Kulikov if the price is right. Or it could mean standing pat and not messing with a team playing its best hockey of the season. 

One thing is clear: Monday's moves have increased the Bruins' degree of difficulty for ending their two-year playoff drought. 
 

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Bergeron: Julien to Habs 'definitely a surprise'

Patrice Bergeron said Tuesday on Toucher & Rich that he sent Claude Julien a text congratulating him on getting a new job with the Canadiens. Asked then by Fred Toucher whether he secretly celebrated that Julien might ruin Montreal’s season, Bergeron opted not to respond. 

Jokes aside, Bergeron said that while he figured that Julien would get a head-coaching job after his dismissal from the Bruins, he was surprised to see it happen in Montreal.

“It was definitely a surprise, especially that quickly,” Bergeron said. “I knew he was going to turn around and find another job somewhere in the NHL. I didn’t know if it was going to be, I don’t know if it was a week or less than a week.” 

Julien coached Bergeron for parts of 10 seasons in Boston. He is 3-2-0 thus far in his second stint with the Habs. 

“I was surprised, but at the same time, I wish him all the best,” Bergeron said. “At the same time, it’s tough to do when it’s in Montreal.”