Thomas looks fine for Bruins

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Thomas looks fine for Bruins

By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
BOSTON -- Whether or not Tim Thomass role changes this season, he looked like the Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goaltender from last season on Saturday night.

Thomass 25 saves against the Tampa Bay Lightning were crucial in the Boston Bruins 4-1 victory -- and their first win of the year.

To me, Timmy looked more like the Timmy we know, coach Claude Julien said after the game. He looked calm, he looked comfortable, and he made things look pretty easy. Even on the big saves, he was challenging well. To me, thats as close to last year as Ive seen Timmy was tonight, and he certainly played a solid game for us.

Thomas felt that way, too.

I feel similar to the way I felt at the beginning of last year, he said. I mean physically anyhow. I feel good, and its good not to be worrying about injuries.

While Tuukka Rask may get the nod soon, Thomas, 37, showed no signs of slowing down against the Lightning. His veteran experience also adds another to his presence between the pipes. When the Bruins and Lightning went scoreless in the first period in spite of 24 combined shots on goal, Thomas knew what he had to do to help his team get ahead in the game.

I realize the reality is when were getting chances and not scoring that the longer I can keep the other team off the board, the more of a chance it gives us because we just need to get that first one and theyll start rolling in, he said. But if you get down a couple while youre waiting for that first one, it gets to be pretty hard. I understand the reality, but I dont feel the pressure. Its the way I think of things.

Even when the Bruins took the lead, he knew letting up on defense was not an option. With a 2-1 lead, Thomas made an impressive save against Teddy Purcell 1:44 into the third period.

He's learned in the past that nothing is guaranteed until the buzzer sounds.

Im not thinking of one big save; Im thinking I have make some saves. Basically you never want to give the other team a sniff, he said. Weve learned our lessons over the years. I remember a game we were up by three goals with three minutes left against St. Louis and they tied it up and won in overtime. So that was quite a few years ago now, but it happened to us last year a couple times where teams came back on us. Weve got to play the full 60 minutes. Thats what we learned last year.

Following the game, Thomass teammates praised his defensive performance.

Timmy made a lot of big saves at the right time, said Brad Marchand. He seems to be great at doing that. He always gives us an opportunity to win. And when he comes up with saves like that, it build a lot of momentum and really gives us a lot of confidence that we can go out and kind of pay him and get a couple of goals and get the lead. If it wasnt for him, we might not have won that game.

Zdeno Chara echoed, Timmy had again a strong game. Especially in the third, he made that blocker save, that was big. Thats what you need, that kind of strong goaltending in crucial times of the game. So he gave us a chance.

Regardless of how many games Thomas starts this season, his teammates know what to expect from him when hes on the ice.

Hes still the same Timmy, said Chara. He competes and hes playing well.

Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

Coyotes hire Craig Cunningham as scout

The Coyotes have hired former player Craig Cunningham as a pro scout, keeping the 26-year-old in hockey after a cardiac episode ended his playing career this season. 

Drafted by the Bruins in the fourth round of the 2010 draft, Cunningham played 34 games for Boston over parts of two seasons before he was waived and claimed by Arizona. He totaled 19 games for the Coyotes, but served as captain of the Tucson Roadrunners, the team’s AHL affiliate. 

Cunningham was hospitalized after he collapsed during pregame warmups on Nov. 19. He was kept alive by continual CPR, but had his lower left leg amputated the next months due to an infection from the episode. 

Known as a high-character player who was popular with his teammates, Cunningham’s transition to scouting lets him further his career after a scary break. 

"I'm very excited to begin the next chapter of my life with the Coyotes," Cunningham said in a statement released by the team. "I'm very grateful to John Chayka, Dave Tippett, the Coyotes and Roadrunners organizations, and all of the great fans across Arizona for the incredible support I've received over the past year. I'm looking forward to helping the Coyotes and I can't wait to get started in my new role."

Said Chayka, the team’s general manager: ”We're thrilled to have Craig join our hockey operations department as a pro scout. Craig was a smart, hard-working player with an incredible passion for the game. We're confident that he will bring those same qualities to the Coyotes in his new role and that he will be an invaluable asset to our organization. We look forward to Craig helping us in several areas and are excited that he is staying with the club."
 

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Morning Skate: Overreacting to the Oilers' window

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while really enjoying what the CW does season in and season out with the Flash.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Don Brennan says that the Senators fans not showing up for Game 6 is their way of sticking it to Sens owner Eugene Melnyk.

*The talk is turning to the next captain of the Buffalo Sabres, and what they can do to help open up communication up and down the roster.  

*A guy that wore a Habs toque on his twitter avatar writes a glowing, praise-filled article about the performance of PK Subban during these Stanley Cup playoffs. He’s undoubtedly been good, but he just might have been wearing his Montreal Canadiens footie pajamas when he wrote this one, and rattling his fist at Habs management all the while.

*Interesting piece by Jason Gregor about the “window to win” for the Edmonton Oilers, and an odd notion that the window will close when Connor McDavid has moved out of his entry level contract. I’d say that’s kind of ludicrous.

*The Colorado Avalanche coaching staff has been let go after last year’s dreadful season, and that’s too bad for a really good guy in former Providence College head coach Tim Army. I’m sure he won’t be out of work long.

*Colin White made his Stanley Cup playoff and NHL debut for the Ottawa Senators in Game 6, and helped push Ottawa to a Game 7. It will be interesting to watch the Massachusetts native and former Boston College standout develop with the Senators as White was one of the players that the Bruins skipped over to instead draft Jake DeBrusk and Zach Senyshyn in the first round of the 2015 NHL Draft. The others, Mathew Barzal, Travis Konecny and Kyle Connor, are all either in the NHL or knocking on the door as well, and it’s going to be a challenging road for both of Boston’s forward prospects to live up the justification of the B’s drafting them first. Granted DeBrusk and Senyshyn are also both doing their thing for the P-Bruins as they push into the conference finals of the Calder Cup playoffs, and they’re both bright prospects in their own right. It’s going to take years to determine the rights and wrongs of that first round, but White getting into the lineup for the Senators is proof of just how high that organization is on him.

*Pittsburgh Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan says that Sidney Crosby handled the targeted abuse well from the Senators in a Game 6 loss that will push to a Game 7 between the Penguins and the Senators.

*For something completely different: A great message from Brookline homey and former Sox GM wonder boy Theo Epstein in his commencement address to Yale University.