It was a night to remember for Thomas

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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

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

Heinen looking to show his offense in his shot on Krejci line

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins mixed things up with their roster a bit on Saturday after dropping a couple of games in a row to Washington and Colorado. 

Fourth-line energy winger Noel Acciari and playmaking forward Danton Heinen were called up from Providence and will be in the lineup against the Toronto Maple Leafs at TD Garden on Saturday night. 
Acciari went to Providence the past couple of days to get some game action in after missing the past month with a lower body injury, but clearly showed he’s ready to go. 

So, Acciari is back to provide the same hard-hitting and energy he showed before he was hurt and Heinen is looking to show off a little more offense than in his first stint with the Black and Gold this season. He’ll be featured in a top role as left wing with David Krejci and David Backes and with marching orders to shoot the puck like he never shot it in his previous stint in Boston. 

For the Bruins, it’s about getting another look at a candidate to play left wing beside Krejci with both Ryan Spooner and Tim Schaller, with limitations to their respective games, unable to fully grasp that same opportunity. 

“My hope is that Heinen can come in and give us some good hockey. He’s a skill player and he’s been down there for a while, and he’s back up again because he’s been playing well,” said Claude Julien of the Bruins rookie, who had four goals and seven points in his past five games with Providence. “Hopefully he can play well here also. It’s about getting some confidence. When he went down to [the AHL] the pace of his game had to get a little bit better, and in the battles coming up with the puck along the walls. Those are the kinds of things we thought he could work on down in Providence.”

Heinen knows he needs to shoot the puck a bit more to show off his offense after a seven-game stint with the Bruins where he went scoreless, was a minus-2 and had just six shots on net.

“Being hard on the walls, playing fast and shooting the puck, those were all things I was working on [in Providence],” said Heinen, who has seven goals and 13 points in 13 games for the P-Bruins after being assigned to Providence. “I was doing what they told me to do [in Providence] and that’s shoot the puck. They were going in, and I was getting some good opportunities on the power play. It’s seriously tough to get chances [at the NHL level], so you can’t pass them up when you have chances. That was kind of my focus down there.”

Fellow fourth-line energy winger Anton Blidh has been shipped to Providence after three solid games with the Black and Gold. 

Julien said Blidh goes back to Providence having adequately shown that he can play in the NHL. He clearly showed the Bruins that he understands his role as a player that stirs things up a bit and gets his nose dirty on a regular basis.

“[Blidh] was fine. No issues there. He does his job. He plays with lots of energy and obviously he’s getting more experience. He’s a lot better at understanding his positioning within the game and what he has to do,” said Julien. “I thought he helped us out for the time that he was here.”

With Heinen and Acciari both in the lineup and Blidh back in Providence, that means Jimmy Hayes will be scratched after dressing for three of the past four games for Boston.

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Saturday, Dec. 10: Vegas, scoring on NHL governors' minds

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while doing some early Christmas shopping ahead of the late rush. 

*Mike Zeisberger sits down with a quartet of NHL governors and discusses a number of hot topics including the Vegas franchise and scoring around the league. 

*Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos has been removed from the NHL Board of Governor’s Executive Committee amid rumors that the Canes might be a prime candidate for relocation. 

*Pierre McGuire weighs in on Connor McDavid’s war of words on the ice and Carey Price losing his mind in the crease against the New Jersey Devils. To that end, Wayne Gretzky liked seeing McDavid get a little combative at such a young age. 

*The New York Islanders signed Cal Clutterbuck to a five year contract extension, and some are skeptical it will turn out well for the Isles.

*David Pastrnak is a premier scoring threat in the league, and Scott Cullen has some details behind that. I will say this: his stock falling in the draft had less to do with his size or heaviness, and more to do with him being concussed for a long stretch of time during the year leading up to the draft. 

*The Florida Panthers are really struggling to stay positive with a 1-5-0 record since the ownership group and management decided to fire Gerard Gallant. 

*For something completely different: Baywatch stars then and now.