Thomas enters 'the zone' in shutout of Habs

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Thomas enters 'the zone' in shutout of Habs

MONTREAL Over the last couple of games Tim Thomas has given a firm reminder to any absent-minded hockey followers just how good he can be.

The Bruins goaltender has backstopped the Bruins to a pair of shutouts in his last two games, and stole his first game of the season when he made 32 saves against the Canadiens in a 1-0 victory for the Bruins at the Bell Centre.

Thomas was good throughout, but at his best in the third period when he stopped 14 shots and became Bostons best penalty killer amid a flurry of Habs power-play chances. Guys named Cammalleri, Gionta and Pacioretty were buzzing around all around him, but they were no match for the flawless Bs goaltender.

We played on our heels tonight a little bit, said Claude Julien after watching his Bruins get out-shot by a 32-18 margin. But defensively we werent that bad and Tim Thomas was huge for us making big saves.

It capped off 133:04 of consecutive scoreless ice time for Thomas dating back to a week ago in the third period of a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Guess hes still got it at 37 years old, eh?

Many of us have played with him for quite a few years now, and you get into that rhythm with Thomas where hes stopping pucks and you know where he likes to see the shots from, said Andrew Ference. He looks like hes in that rhythm right now.

There werent any Superman saves with Thomas flying across the crease like a masked superhero, but the 37-year-old was tracking the puck with uncanny precision while plenty of action popped up in front of him.

Thomas was at his best when Montreal sniper Mike Cammalleri tried to find an opening in the third period with the Habs down by just a goal. Thomas stood tall when Scott Gomez attempted to throw a puck into his skates during the first of Benoit Pouliots ill-advised penalties, and he calmly kicked away a Gomez tip of a Cammalleri bomb from the right point.

In the final minute of the third period Thomas swallowed up an Erik Cole shot flipped from the middle slot off a Brian Gionta pass with Max Pacioretty crashing to the front of the net. There was a little bit of luck involved too as Thomas kicked away a bouncing puck in the final seconds with Pacioretty camped out in front of the crease, but unable to control the loose biscuit.

It was all part of Thomas master plan as there were some tough saves sprinkled into his nights work, but he wasnt going to let the Habs see him sweat under his Movember mustache mask. Thomas said after the game hes feeling as good as he has all season, and it looks like hes entering The Zone into which very few goaltenders are allowed admittance.

The Bs goaltender is still fully capable of carrying his hockey club for a stretch at 37 years old, and hes got an offense thats going to get him some ultra-comfortable nights in between the tight, one-goal games.

There were a few through screens that I made look easier than they were, but that was the impression I was trying to give off to Montreal, said Thomas. I wanted to make them feel like they werent close to scoring and it really worked out.

A couple of them ended up in my glove and there was a quick whistle where sometimes they bounce out and it gets a little scrambly. That can get the other team hungry because they feel like theyre close to scoring, but that didnt happen tonight.

With the 32-save shutout in the books, Thomas leads the NHL with three shutouts (hes tied with Jimmy Howard, Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick) and sits second with a 1.77 goals against average and third in the league with a .938 save percentage. He looks every bit like the goaltender that captured the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup for only the second time in NHL history last season, and has only the immortal Brian Elliott and Josh Harding sitting in front of him in the traditional goaltending stat categories.

Its likely that the Habs are sick of seeing this movie with Thomas shutting down a flying Montreal attack and handing the Bruins a victory when players like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand arent up to their normal capabilities. Its the movie that played all last spring to rave reviews in Boston, and it looks there might just be a sequel in the works for Thomas and Co. in Black and Gold.

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

Krug: Bruins collapse 'is not going to happen this year'

BOSTON – Having lost three games in a row for the first time under Bruce Cassidy at time of year when you can’t drop into losing streaks, Bruins fans clearly want some sense of surety when it comes to the B’s making the playoffs.

Well, they got an ironclad guarantee from Torey Krug after he was the best B’s player on the ice in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden. Krug has been a part of the teams that collapsed in each of the past two seasons and the puck-moving defenseman said things are going to be different this time around with nine games to go.

“I haven’t thought about it, I haven’t talked about it. It’s a different feeling this year. [A collapse] is not going to happen this year. I know we’ve got a lot of pride in this room,” said Krug, who elevated his game and scored on a nifty, Bobby Orr-esque one-man rush up the ice in the third period. He also had a team-high seven shots on net and led the B’s in ice time in the loss. “The guys that have been through it. There’s no other option except making sure we stay on course and take care and do our jobs.

“You feel like you played pretty well and things didn’t go your way. You make a big mistake and it cost you. You got to realize what’s done is done, and we have an important task on Thursday [vs. the Lightning]. We’ve got to come to the rink with no other option except winning that game. That’s the mindset we’ve got to have.”

The Black and Gold are still in a pretty good position when it comes to the playoffs, even if their lead over Toronto in the Atlantic Division is precarious right now. But it ultimately comes down to Boston summoning against Tampa Bay and the Islanders what they didn’t, or couldn’t, against Toronto and Ottawa, and making good on Krug’s defiant words following a bitter defeat. 


 

Bruins hope familiar lack of finish isn't cropping up again

Bruins hope familiar lack of finish isn't cropping up again

BOSTON – Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: The Bruins outshot an opponent, lost and then lamented their lack of finish on a bevy of scoring plays while begrudgingly tipping their hats to a hot goaltender.

It was the scenario for many disappointing losses in the first 55 games of the season under Claude Julien, and it was a little too eerily reminiscent in a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators at TD Garden on Tuesday night. 

Certainly it’s just one game and there has been far too much good as of late to believe the Bruins are cannon-balling into a pool of previous bad habits. But giving up a goal in the second period while watching Craig Anderson make 18 second-period saves at the other end of the ice was a stark reminder of the bad old days.

“We struggled up in Ottawa getting through [the neutral zone], tonight I thought we did a better job,” said Torey Krug. “A win against that system is just getting the puck behind them and going in on the fore-check. We’ll take that every time. We did well, but we’ve got to find a way to get more goals on the scoreboard.”

Certainly there some stellar saves: A flashy glove hand on a Noel Acciari backhander from the slot and a couple of stops on Frank Vatrano in tight around the net come to mind. But there were also some light, perimeter play kind of nights from Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak where the turnovers (a combined eight giveaways between the two forwards) and loose play were coming fast and furious.

That’s the stuff that needs to improve after watching Ottawa score on three redirections with bodies camped in front of the net.

“There are some,” admitted Bruce Cassidy when asked about parallels to some darker days earlier in the season. “Some of it you have to give credit to the goaltender you’re playing. Look at his numbers, he’s been very good. I’m not going to look too far back. I think we had good looks off the rush – he [Craig Anderson] made saves. We did have our D come late, get a couple of good looks, and that’s something we’ve really worked on. We had a D join and score. That was actually a nice individual score. So, those parts of our game, I think, it just ebbs and flows over the course of the year where you run into hot goaltending and you have to stay with it.

“That’s when you have to keep the puck out of your net. [In Toronto], we were right there until two minutes to go where even though we weren’t scoring, we were in a position to get points. [Against the Senators] it was a breakdown right after we scored, so I think the focus has to be when you’re having tough luck around the net, you need to get points. And maybe these games end up 1-1, 2-2, they’re going into shootouts or overtime and you accumulate your points that way. I think that’s where the last two games have been disappointing. You know, we should have had points. It may not have been wins, but we should have been there at the end and playing 65 minutes, or whatever it took to finish it.”

The silver lining, of course, is that the Bruins didn't get bogged down in Guy Boucher's 1-3-1 trap and were able to dictate play a bit more while never actually leading in the game. But that does little good when won-loss results and points in the coffers are all that matters in the final weeks. 

Perhaps some of the offensive scale-back in the past few games has been by design after letting up seven goals to Edmonton in the Western Canada road finale, but it’s also about being tougher and more determined around the net.

Ottawa won that net-front battle on Tuesday night and subsequently won the hockey game, so it’s time for the Bruins to do that exact thing if they want better results vs. the Lightning and Islanders later this week.