Thomas' career day easily overlooked


Thomas' career day easily overlooked

By Danny Picard

BOSTON -- Maybe you couldn't see, with all the hats. Or maybe people in the row in front of you blocked your vision while participating in "the wave."

But somewhere out on the TD Garden ice on Tuesday night, Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas completed what some would call a perfect day.

Patrice Bergeron's hat trick stole the show in Tuesday's 6-0 win over the Ottawa Senators. It caused the Garden to lose control, and give the building a Fenway-esque feel while pulling out the wave.

But Thomas' 31 saves gave him his sixth shutout of the season, a new personal single-season career high. He now leads the entire NHL in shutouts, and also leads the league in goals-against average (1.77) and save percentage (.946).

His 19th win of the season came on the same day as being named to his third career All-Star Game. Thomas joins captain Zdeno Chara as the other Bruins player voted into the game.

"It's always an honor," said Thomas. "It's a feather in your cap, so I'm very happy.

"Everybody wants down time, but having said that, for most people, myself included, you don't make the All-Star Game that often. It's an honor worth giving up a couple of days rest for."

And as the Bruins' No. 1 goaltender this season, rest is something Thomas hasn't exactly seen much of, up until last week.

And after not looking too good in the final minutes of Saturday night's third-period collapse in Montreal, Thomas benefited from an early 2-0 Bruins lead, and a 5-0 lead heading into the third period.

"It's rare, with how tight this league is, to get a nice big lead like that, so it was very nice," said Thomas. "It kind of feels like a night off, mentally."

"Tim was good," said coach Claude Julien after the win. "He made some big saves, and I think our players played well in front of him. But he still made some really good saves. He was solid, and he certainly gave us the confidence that we needed. We knew he was going to be there to make those kind of saves.

"Probably nice for him, and our goaltenders, to once in a while to see our team have a bit of a cushion, so that they can just relax and not feel like every shot is a must."

With the mental night off, Thomas didn't even realize that he had set a new single-season career high in shutouts, saying, "Tells ya that I'm doing a good job not thinking about all that stuff."

And not thinking is working for Thomas, who's having one of the best seasons of his career, a season after losing his starting job to the young Tuukka Rask. But following hip surgery, the rejuvenated Thomas is now quietly playing himself into another Vezina Trophy season, which would mark his second in three years.

On Tuesday, he got the win, the shutout, and his third All Star nod.

A perfect day that could have been easily overlooked.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on font-family: "Times New Roman";p.MsoNormal, li.MsoNormal, div.MsoNormal margin: 0in 0in 0.0001pt; font-size: 12pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; a:link, span.MsoHyperlink color: blue; text-decoration: underline; a:visited, span.MsoHyperlinkFollowed color: purple; text-decoration: underline; table.MsoNormalTable font-size: 10pt; font-family: "Times New Roman"; div.Section1 page: Section1;

Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation


Morning Skate: Sidney Crosby has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while wishing everybody a safe and relaxing Memorial Day weekend. 

*Apparently Nashville Predators head coach Peter Laviolette has yet to try Nashville’s hot chicken despite his time behind the Preds bench. It’s okay, I have yet to try it either in my handful of visits to Music City. 

*Good stuff from PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough. Apparently it wasn’t so easy to make Wayne Gretzky’s head bleed when it came time for director Doug Liman to cut Swingers together

*Sidney Crosby cares about the history and the issues of the game, and has been a good ambassador as the face of his NHL generation despite the hate that always comes with such responsibility. 

*Puck Daddy examines Crosby’s performance in the playoffs, and the odds of him winning another Conn Smythe Trophy. 

*The Penguins have made it to the Stanley Cup Final without Kris Letang for their playoff run, and that’s an amazing accomplishment. 

*Erik Karlsson said that he will be tending to his injured foot next week, and expects a full recovery for next season after a brilliant run with his Ottawa Senators

*Larry Brooks again rails against the Stanley Cup playoff structure and it’s relation to an “absurd regular season.” Say what you will, but the fact the Penguins are there for a second straight season shoots down some of the absurdity stuff in my mind. The best team from the East is where they should be and they did it without Kris Letang to boot. 

*Chicago Blackhawks prospect Alex Debrincat is confident his abilities will translate to the NHL despite his size after taking home honors as the best player in junior hockey this season. 

*For something completely different: Apparently there’s a hard core comic book geek gripe that “The Flash” is burning through bad guys too quickly. This would make sense if they couldn’t revisit these bad guys at any point, but they absolutely can go back to a big bad like Grodd anytime they want. 

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

Playoff run ends for Providence Bruins, but some promising signs

It was the longest run that the P-Bruins have had in a few years and another unmistakable sign that the future is brightening for the Black and Gold, but the Bruins AHL affiliate has ended their playoff push in the Calder Cup semi-finals. 

The Providence Bruins fell by a 3-1 score to the Syracuse Crunch on Saturday night to lose to the Crunch in five games when the best-of-seven series was set to return to Providence this coming week. The P-Bruins had vanquished the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins and Hershey Bears in the first two rounds of the Calder Cup playoffs before finally exiting against Syracuse. 

Though it’s over, it’s clear some of the Bruins prospects made a nice step forward over the second half of the AHL season and then into the Calder Cup playoffs. With the Calder Cup Finals yet to start, B’s forward prospect Danton Heinen stands as the second-leading playoff scorer in the entire AHL with nine goals and 18 points in 17 playoff games after really struggling in the first half of his first pro season while bouncing back and forth between the NHL and the AHL. 

This could bode well for the skilled Heinen and his hopes to make the leap to the NHL in the near future after a stellar collegiate career at the University of Denver. AHL journeymen-types Wayne Simpson and Jordan Szwarz were the next two top scorers for the P-Bruins in the playoff run, but Jake DeBrusk had a strong playoff season as well while popping in six goals in 17 games. DeBrusk led all Providence players with his 54 shots on net in the 17-game playoff run for Providence, and he headlined a group that included B’s prospects Ryan Fitzgerald, Zach Senyshyn, Matt Grzelcyk, Peter Cehlarik (who succumbed to shoulder surgery during the playoffs), Emil Johansson and Robbie O’Gara all getting some vital playoff experience. 

Both Heinen and DeBrusk will be strong candidates for jobs on the wing with the Boston big club when training camp opens in the fall after strong showings in the postseason. 

On the goaltending side, Zane McIntyre was solid for the P-Bruins at times while in 16 of their 17 playoff games with a .906 save percentage. But it was Malcolm Subban that was playing at the very end of the playoff run for Providence and featured a sterling .937 save percentage in the four AHL playoff games that he appeared in this spring after an up-and-down regular season. McIntyre had an .857 save percentage and 4.37 goals against average in the final series against Syracuse, and looked a little spent like many of the other P-Bruins players once they’d unexpectedly made it to the third round of the AHL postseason.  

The only unfortunate part of Providence’s run is that newly signed youngsters Charlie McAvoy and Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson couldn’t be a part of it after signing and then appearing in NHL games following a cut-off date for AHL playoff rosters. Both missed on an experience that could have been very conducive for their professional development, and uncovered a wrinkle in the NHL/AHL transaction process that really doesn’t make a whole lot of sense for a developmental league.