It was a night to remember for Thomas

453270.jpg

It was a night to remember for Thomas

By Mary Paoletti
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- "With Tim Thomas, anything is possible."

Bruins captain Zdeno Chara was not exaggerating in his postgame remarks. Boston beat Montreal 2-1 in a double overtime grind and the win was largely owed to the Bruins goalie, who stopped 45 shots in 89 minutes of ice time on Saturday night. Montreal netminder Carey Price upped the ante by making 49 saves of his own.

"I've said before that I'm not really playing against Carey Price so to speak," Thomas said. "Tonight, I was in a game in a way. Whenever he made saves, I had to make sure that I made the saves because it was such a tight game."

Other than a third-period pair that made the score 1-1, nobody could get to the goalies.

But while Thomas's teammates are impressed, none are surprised.

"We wouldn't even be here if it wasn't for him," said Brad Marchand.

That's just Timmy.

Thomas is a Vezina trophy finalist for the second time in three seasons (he won the award in 2009). He is also one year off of hip surgery. The fact that Thomas did not enter this season as the No. 1 netminder now seems only like a bad dream. How? A 2.00 GAA (NHL best), .938 save percentage (NHL best), nine shutouts (one more than Price in 15 fewer games) and 35 wins do well to cloud a sub-par 2010.

So, excuse Thomas's teammates for their shrugs when asked about yet another brilliant performance.

"It's run of the mill, I guess," Andrew Ference laughed. "I mean, really, what do you say? We still get excited by some of the saves, but he does them every game. It's great. It's very reassuring to know that he's back there, to bail you out of some good plays."

That idea of reassurance and comfort rippled all around the locker room after Game 5.

"When you have a goalie who knows he's great -- and we know he's great -- he's going to go out there and give us a chance," said Ference. "It's a good feeling to have a guy like that."

Don't mistake their trust for complacency; the Black and Gold do not take Tim Thomas for granted.

"It's calming to have him behind us," Dennis Seidenberg said. "Having him in the back, always saving us games left and right, is a privilege. "

A privilege they enjoyed for the better part of Saturday night.

Boston matched their blocked shots with defensive breakdowns. Joe Halpren's goal -- the only one Thomas gave up -- was all but a disaster. Tomas Kaberle kicked things off with a soft attempt to clear the puck in the corner. Instead of sending it along the boards, Kaberle shuttled the puck to Adam McQuaid, who was swarmed with Canadiens and under the gun behind the net. Halpren had broken free of Gregory Campbell and intercepted McQuaid's pass. Thomas was left out to dry; Halpren buried one in the back of Boston's net.

The Bruins' lead was swallowed by a 1-1 tie for the rest of regulation.

"It was a matter of not giving up," Thomas said of the extra sessions. "Just staying with it and waiting for opportunities. Hopefully one of those opportunities goes in."

Montreal had a strong chance in the second overtime.

Less than five minutes in, another Bruins misfire turned into an opportunity on the other end. Johnny Boychuk took a shot on Price that sent the defenseman down to the ice. Price made the save and kicked the rebound out to Brian Gionta, which ignited a breakaway. Boychuk raced after the play but couldn't catch up, leaving Andrew Ference to handle a two-pronged attack by Gionta and Travis Moen.

Gionta passed to Moen; Moen got it back to the Canadiens captain.

"As soon as it left my stick, I thought it was going in," Gionta said.

He was stonewalled. Thomas gathered his speed and pushed post-to-post to rob Gionta of the brilliant bid. The save energized a tense crowd in the TD Garden. It also inspired the Bruins.

"We got into it," Ference said. "It was a great, great save. That's a hard save to make."

Nathan Horton's game-winner came less than four minutes later. How's that for a two-way street? Thomas works for his team, and they want to work for him.

"It made us think, 'Okay, let's win it now,'" Seidenberg said. "'He saved us from the loss and let's just do our best and repay him by winning, by scoring the next goal. Thankfully, it worked."

Maybe that's where Thomas finds his own comfort.

Mary Paoletti can be reached at mpaoletti@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Mary on Twitter at http:twitter.comMary_Paoletti

Sweeney on lack of B's deals: "I wasn't trading David Pastrnak"

don-sweeney-bruins-5-20-15.jpg

Sweeney on lack of B's deals: "I wasn't trading David Pastrnak"

BUFFALO – A year ago Don Sweeney traded away one of his talented young players for pennies on the dollar when he shipped Dougie Hamilton to Calgary for three draft picks, and it would appear he’s learned from that experience. While the Bruins general manager admitted he was desperately in search of some defensemen help this weekend, Sweeney said the prices were too high to get a deal done on Friday night at the First Niagara Center.

A source indicated to CSNNE.com earlier on Friday that All-Star defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk would end up with “the Bruins, Flyers or Rangers” this season, but it sure sounded like the St. Louis Blues were pricing themselves out of making any deals. According to Sweeney, other team’s managers were asking him to include both of his 2016 first round picks and more to swing a deal for a defenseman, and that young right wing David Pastrnak’s name kept coming up in these discussions.

That was far too steep an asking price in the rightful minds of Sweeney and Bruins management, so there were no defensemen that ended up getting moved on Friday night. Unfortunately, other NHL teams will keep asking about the emerging Pastrnak knowing full well that the Bruins are in a desperate position to repair their personnel on the back end. 

“In all honesty it would have taken both first rounders and then some…the acquisition cost was high. We want to continue to improve our hockey club with whatever we have to do, but it’s not unlike last year when it would have taken all three first rounders [to get a deal done]. There’s a balancing act there,” said Sweeney. “There was not a lot that moved around today. People have been laying foundation [for trades] for quite some time, but there are players that we’re just not comfortable putting into deals. I’m going to defend that. I’ll be honest with you that I just am.

“We’ve taken a position where we’re going to build this the right way. We want to be competitive and improve our team, and we’ll be active in the free agent market to fill holes while allowing our young players to push through. But I wasn’t trading David Pastrnak. We’ve been criticized, and rightfully so at times, for being impatient with our younger, skilled players. This represents a good opportunity that we don’t want to do that.”

Instead the Bruins selected Charlie McAvoy and Trent Frederic with the 14th and 29th overall picks in the first round, and they’ll start at the drawing board on Saturday while hoping to build toward a deal for a top-4 “transitional defenseman.” They’ll also do it knowing they made the right call in protecting the 14th pick where they selected a future transitional defenseman that will perhaps be a younger, cheaper version of Shattenkirk three years down the road. 

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Bruins select center Trent Frederic with 29th pick in 2016 NHL Draft

screen_shot_2016-06-24_at_11.10.21_pm.png

Bruins select center Trent Frederic with 29th pick in 2016 NHL Draft

BUFFALO – The Bruins went off the board to make their second choice in the first round, and selected big, gritty center Trent Frederic from the U.S. National Team Development Program.  Frederic was ranked 47th among North American skaters by the NHL Central Scouting Bureau, and is ultimately viewed as a solid bottom-six two-way center with limited offensive ability.

A nice Bruins-style player to be sure, but also the kind of player that can easily be picked in the second, or third, round rather than with the 29thpick in the first round. It’s pretty clear the B’s were hoping to package up the 29th pick along with a prospect to acquire a top-4 defenseman, and that they didn’t have many designs on actually choosing a player.

That led to a surprised Frederic, who was happy to be a first round pick if not a little blown away by his good NHL fortune.

“I guess I was a little surprised. If you could hear my whole family's reaction then you get the gist of it,” said Frederic, who listed David Backes and Justin Abdelkader as the NHL players he most models his game after in his career. “They were pumped, and I am pumped. As a player I’m a two-way physical player that’s good with the puck.

“I’ve had some tournaments in Boston, and some family vacations there. I visited Boston University when I thought about going there, and I’ve been to Fenway Park and TD Garden. It’s one of my favorite cities.”

The Frederic pick might have been off the beaten path a bit, but it was a pretty special selection for a number of other reasons: Frederic was the record-setting 12th US-born player taken in the first round, and the fifth player taken in the 2016 first round from the St. Louis area. The Bruins have to hope that he develops into a more dangerous, effective player during his college hockey days at Wisconsin, and that he feels a little less like the Bruins reaching for players in the first round for the second draft in a row. 

Photo via Joe Haggerty

Charlie McAvoy tweeted he hates the Bruins 'so much' in 2013

screen_shot_2016-06-24_at_9.40.24_pm.png

Charlie McAvoy tweeted he hates the Bruins 'so much' in 2013

Tweet hunters dug up an old message from a Charlie McAvoy proclaiming his hatred for the Boston Bruins. McAvoy, of course, was drafted 14th by the Bruins in the 2016 NHL Draft.

The tweet read, "I hate the bruins so much" before it was quickly deleted.

I'm sure this will go over well for Bruins fans, even though you really can't blame McAvoy. He was just 15 at the time and a fan of the Rangers, who went down 3-0 in the playoffs against the Bruins.

As fans, we can all relate to that feeling.