Notes: Thomas back on his game after lull


Notes: Thomas back on his game after lull

By Joe Haggerty

PHILADELPHIA Tim Thomas went through a post-All-Star break lull when it appeared his heavy workload was catching up with his 36-year-old body, but that time has past for the All-Star goaltender.

Thomas had energy and spring in his legs as he executed a series of maximum effort saves in a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers Sunday night that saw the talented Broad Street Bullies come at the Bs goalie in waves. An Adam McQuaid gaffe in the defensive zone led to a Kris Versteeg first-period goal that really couldnt have been stopped by Thomas, but he was in complete lockdown mode from that point forward.

Thomas once again leads the NHL with a 2.00 goals-against average and a .939 save percentage, and might just have capped off his second Vezina Trophy-worthy campaign with a dominant performance against the Flyers.

Timmy has been really good for us all year. He had a little time there where he was good, but not great. People expected him to be great every night. Thats just not realistic, said coach Claude Julien. Maybe he was a little bit tired, but Timmy has been never been bad for us. Hes always been good and more so great. He looks like hes feeling really good about his game, and so do we.

He bobbled a few pucks while getting a feel in the first 20 minutes, but the Bruins goalie was on top of his game over the final 40 minutes while turning away Versteeg on a breakaway caused by a Tomas Kaberle turnover.

Then later in the period he turned away an Andrej Meszaros point-blank chance, and then barrel-rolled his way through a series of unlikely saves that started with a Jeff Carter missile. The Bruins outshot the Flyers by a 36-28 margin on the evening, but it was clear that the Boston goaltender was the one peppered with the better chances.

Thomas never blinked once, and for that he earned the 1980s Starter-esque Bruins warm-up jacket thats become a symbol given to the player of the game after a win by the rest of his teammates. The jacket was worn by Milan Lucic after his 30th goal of the season against the New Jersey Devils, and by Zdeno Chara after playing a monstrously good game against the Montreal Canadiens last Thursday night.

They were allowing me to see a lot of the shots . . . almost all of them. I think there was maybe only once where I just didnt see the shot from where it was taken, said Thomas. Were doing a lot of little things right. Were forcing those guys to take that shot just a little bit early which makes it easier for the goalie because they dont have that time to aim and pick a corner.

The jacket was actually purchased by Andrew Ference on E-bay from somebody in Vancouver for 30, and the Bs defenseman had worn it around the locker room a few times as a novelty item before it became a symbol for this years Bruins team.

Michael Ryder was scratched amid an 11-game goal-scoring drought thats seen him take only three shots in the four games. Ryder has disappeared in most offensive situations, and wasnt getting anything done on the power play over the last few weeks while the team sputtered as well.

The winger mentioned the difficulty in bouncing between three different forward lines, and the experiment putting Ryder on the fourth line with Shawn Thornton and Gregory Campbell isnt going to end well if continued.

When hes on top of his game hes skating and winning his battles to get himself scoring chances, and when hes not then hes not a very good player for us, said Julien. Its the one thing about Michael, that consistency thats going to make both him and us a better team.

There are some nights when Michael is playing well and he can be one of our better players. When hes not then it certainly takes away from our hockey club.

The Bruins clinched a playoff berth with their win over the Flyers, and also finished off the regular season with an impressive 3-0-1 record against the Eastern Conferences top dog this season.

Chris Kelly took a nasty Blair Betts leg check and Patrice Bergeron took a Johnny Boychuk slap shot off the foot, but both players managed to remain in the game to help contribute to the win over Philadelphia. Both players appeared to be okay after the game was over.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient


Still looking for first point, Heinen stays patient

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It may be strictly due to injuries or because Ryan Spooner is being moved back to third line center full-time, but Danton Heinen is going to get another top-six look on the wing. The 21-year-old Bruins prospect will be skating on the left wing with David Krejci and Matt Beleskey in Tuesday night’s game against the Minnesota Wild after serving as a healthy scratch last weekend against the Montreal Canadiens.

Heinen has only two shots on goal in the four games leading up to the scratch, and has been quiet offensively after leading the Bruins in goal-scoring during the preseason. Clearly there’s an adjustment to be made there, and it looked like the playmaking rookie winger was starting to develop a little more confidence trying to make plays while skating with Krejci and David Backes in last week’s win over the New Jersey Devils.

Heinen actually looked reminiscent of Krejci on a couple of plays, pulling back the puck after entering the zone and catching a trailing B’s teammate with a perfectly executed lead pass on the offensive rush. That effort plus a trip to the ninth floor press box last weekend seemed to reinforce just how much time he has to make plays, and that should be a benefit for both Heinen and his linemates.

Sometimes getting that first NHL point is the hardest part when a player breaks into the league, and it’s been that way for the young winger through his first four games.

“[Krejci] is such a good player, and I just try to complement him any way I can,” said Heinen. “You never want to be up in the press box, but it gives you a different perspective on the game. It’s a different angle. From up there it looks like you’ve got way more time. I definitely think I can be more patient with the puck, and make some smarter plays.”

Heinen started to do that in his best NHL game to date prior to being scratched against New Jersey, and it resulted in greater offensive possession and a couple of potential scoring plays getting created for the B’s second line. Unfortunately it didn’t lead to actual goals, and Heinen knows that’s what needs to happen through him if a player like him, with an offense-minded reputation from his University of Denver days, is going to stick top-6 in Boston.

“You can’t rely on the [top] guys every night,” said Heinen, who watched the Habs beat the Bruins on Saturday night while essentially shutting down Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak. “When we’ve been out there we’ve kind of been getting some chances, but we’ve got to bear down.

“[Krejci] likes to play with the puck a lot, so you just get him the puck, go in hard on the forecheck and try to get open because he’s a good distributor.”

It sounds like a simple plan that might be a very good thing for young Heinen, who needs to start breaking through offensively if he wants to stick around in Boston for the long haul. 

Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban


Khudobin out three weeks as Bruins turn to Malcolm Subban

BRIGHTON, Mass. -- It could get a little dicey for the Bruins over the next couple of days.

Both Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin were missing from Tuesday’s morning skate at Warrior Ice Arena, and instead rookie Malcolm Subban will get the start for the Black and Gold against the Minnesota Wild at TD Garden.

Rask hasn’t been on the ice since last Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils when he re-aggravated a lower body injury and Khudobin will be out three weeks with an upper-body injury suffered at Monday’s practice. It appeared the B’s backup suffered a right hand/wrist injury in the early moments of the practice, and Subban was left as the lone goaltender until Boston brought up Zane McIntyre on emergency recall Tuesday morning.

Julien said the Bruins have confidence in Subban’s ability to play a great game for them, but he’s struggled so far in Providence while getting yanked from two of his four AHL starts this season.

“I just want [Subban] to go in tonight and play a really solid game because we know that he can. He’s a good goaltender, so just because he had a bit of a rough outing [in the AHL] doesn’t mean he has to have one tonight. This is an opportunity for him to play well, and to demonstrate that he’s ready to play in the NHL,” said Julien. “We have bad games and we tell our players ‘Let’s not live in the past, let’s think about what we have to do to rectify it and play better in the next game.’ So I think our goaltender is in the same situation.

“Our game plan is about playing good defense with Tuukka or without Tuukka. That doesn’t change. We understand that some of the teams that we’ve played lately (Montreal and New Jersey) are very stingy, so we have to give up the least amount of goals we can because we’re not going to score a ton against those teams. When you put a system together you believe in it, and you go out and play your game. You don’t adjust your game for other teams, and adjusting for injuries isn’t quite what we’re looking for. We’re looking for a solid performance from our team, and that will trump any injury that we have.”

Oh by the way, the Bruins also have a road game at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday in a back-to-back situation that’s less than ideal with injuries piling up. In addition a Subban/McIntyre tandem in goal, the Bruins will also be without David Backes with what Claude Julien termed “a minor issue” that also has him day-to-day.

In the good news department, Adam McQuaid will make his season debut after missing the first five games of the season with an upper body injury. Rob O’Gara was sent to the Providence Bruins to make room for him coming off injured reserve. Here are the projected line combos and D-pairings for tonight’s game vs. the Wild with Joe Morrow as the healthy scratch on the back end:







Liles-C. Miller