Thomas deflects Vezina talk; Julien backs Ference

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Thomas deflects Vezina talk; Julien backs Ference

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- The Bruins didn't practice on Friday, but several players, along with coach Claude Julien were available to the media, a day after their dramatic come-from-behind overtime win in Montreal that evened their playoff series at 2-2.

The two biggest stories of the day were Tim Thomas receiving a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, and Andrew Ference's 2,500 fine for pointing his middle finger to the Montreal crowd after scoring Boston's second goal on Thursday night.

Thomas was asked about officially being a Vezina Trophy finalist, and after losing his starting job to Tuukka Rask last year, his response was just as expected.

"Very happy to hear that, obviously," said Thomas inside the Bruins locker room at the TD Garden on Friday. "After last year, wasnt quite sure if Id ever hear that again. And so obviously very happy."

Thomas will be a favorite to capture the award, over Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne, but with the timing of the announcement coming right in the middle of a crucial playoff series with the Canadiens, Thomas was asked if talk of the award will be a distraction.

"Only if you make it," said Thomas. "Its weird timing, that we happen to be in the middle of a very tough first round series. So its really, to be honest with you, its an honor. And I could talk about it right now but my focus will immediately go back to the playoff series. I wont be thinking about the Vezina later today."

Distracted or not, everyone in the organization feels he's worthy.

"I think its pretty obvious to me, and Tim is very deserving of that nomination, and obviously I am a big fan of what he has done this year," Julien said on Friday. "And if you ask me he certainly deserves it and Im sure that would get some arguments from other places. But Im certainly going to support Tim for the season hes had. Especially what he went through last year and to bounce back this year and have that kind of season, he is certainly very deserving. So I wish him all the luck and hope that he wins what he deserves."

Julien also commented on Ference's hand gesture to the Montreal crowd, saying that all he plans on doing is backing his player.

"With Andrew, I think hes been pretty open at what he thinks of the situation and his comments were pretty clear," Julien said. "And Im going to support my player. Thats my job, to support and believe your player and thats what I am going to do."

A day later, Ference was sticking with his story, that the finger in his glove got stuck, and that all he was doing was giving a fist pump.

"I talked to Mike Murphy of the NHL this morning and explained the same thing that I told you guys last night," said Ference. "He said the same thing, that it looks awful, obviously. And with this series, the whole year, how it is between the Habs and the Bruins, the fine was acceptable.

"I was pumping my fist," added Ference. "Im not giving anyone the bird or anything like that. Like I told them, it was an unintentional bird. I obviously apologize for it, it wasnt meant to insult anybody, especially a whole row of cameras in the Bell Centre and the fans sitting there. Thats definitely not the intention."

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 CSNNE.com.

Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

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Backes set to star in Animal Planet special this weekend

It’s only a coincidence that it will air the same week that the Boston Bruins went Hollywood with their annual three-game road trip through California, but David Backes and his wife Kelly are going to get some solid TV time this weekend. The animal-loving couple are going to be featured Saturday night in the all-new Animal Planet special "Stars to the Rescue," which highlights the Backes family’s excellent work to ensure every animal has a ‘furever’ home.

The lifelong animal lovers have adopted five rescue pets that all made the move from St. Louis to Boston this summer, and launched Athletes for Animals in 2013, a non-profit organization supporting professional athletes and animal advocacy efforts. The 32-year-old Backes chose a Boston animal shelter as his first setting to meet with the Boston media this summer after signing with the Bruins in free agency, and spoke glowingly about his inspiration for marrying two of his passions: helping animals and sports.

“The full story is that in college we wanted an animal or two, but it just wasn’t responsible because we were renting and the landlords didn’t approve," said Backes, the proud owner of four dogs (Maverick, Rosey, Marty and Bebe) and two cats (Sunny, Poly). "We just didn’t really have the time or resources to support them, so we volunteered at the local shelter for the three years I was in school.

“When my wife [Kelly] and I moved to St. Louis, we wanted to connect with the community, be a part and use our voice to influence social change to do our part making the world a little bit of a better place. So we said, ‘Why not connect with the animal welfare rescue community?’

“We absolutely love doing it: Walking dogs, scooping litter boxes and cleaning kennels. Let’s use our voice to kick this off and see what we can do, and it really just snowballed from that to then trying to tie other guys into it. It’s not limited to the animal stuff, but the animals that don’t have a voice, and the kids that don’t have a voice, really tug at our heart strings. We want to help them with this blessing of a great voice we’ve been given as professional athletes, and to really use that to give them some help.”

The “Stars to the Rescue” special premieres on Saturday night at 8 pm on Animal Planet where there will be a full segment on the Backes family, but here’s a clip where Backes talks about his well-publicized involvement with a number of stray dog rescues during his 2014 Olympic Hockey stint with Team USA in Sochi, Russia.

Backes isn’t the only Boston athlete featured during the Animal Planet special as it also chronicles the stories of other well-known athletes and celebrities and the dogs they can't live without: Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman, Baltimore Ravens’ Ronnie Stanley, Selma Blair, ESPN Correspondent Michelle Beadle, WNBA star Elena Delle Donne, former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield and more. From training buddies to comforting companions, “Stars to the Rescue” shows first-hand how these celebrities first met their cute rescued canines and how their dogs have impacted and transformed their lives for the better.

What we learned in Bruins' 4-1 win over Kings: Back on track

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What we learned in Bruins' 4-1 win over Kings: Back on track

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