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

Khudobin simply ‘has got to be better’ for Bruins

Khudobin simply ‘has got to be better’ for Bruins

BOSTON – There wasn’t much for Anton Khudobin to say after it was all over on Thursday night. 

The B’s backup netminder allowed four goals on 22 shots while looking like he was fighting the puck all night. It was one of the big reasons behind a tired-looking 4-2 loss to the lowly Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

The loss dropped Khudobin to 1-4-0 on the season and puts him at a 3.02 goals-against average and .888 save percentage this season. Three of the four goals beat Khudobin despite him getting a pretty good look at them. The ultimate game-winner in the second period from John Mitchell just beat him cleanly on the short side. 

Matt Duchene beat Khudobin from the slot on a play that was a bad defense/bad goaltending combo platter to start the game and MacKinnon ripped a shorthanded bid past the Bruins netminder to put Boston in a hole against a woeful Colorado team. 

Afterward, Khudobin didn’t have much to say, with just one good performance among five games played for the Black and Gold this season. 

“Four goals is too much. That’s it,” said a to-the-point Khudobin, who was then asked how he felt headed into the game. “I don’t know; too much energy…yeah, too much. I don’t know. I just had a lot of energy and I think it just didn’t work out my way.”

Khudobin didn’t really expand on why he had too much energy, but perhaps it’s because the compacted schedule has really curtailed the team’s ability to hold team practices on a regular basis. Or maybe he was just disappointed it took him a week to get back between the pipes after playing his best game of the season against the Carolina Hurricanes. 

Either way Claude Julien said that the Bruins needed better goaltending on a night where they weren’t at their sharpest physically or mentally, and Khudobin clearly wasn’t up to the challenge this time around. 

“We needed some saves tonight and we didn’t get them. He’s got to be better. A lot of things here that we can be better at and take responsibility [for],” said Julien. “But at the same time, you got to move on here. To me it’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, and we would have had a chance. Now we’ve got to move forward.”

Clearly, the Bruins have no choice but to move on with a busy schedule that doesn’t let up anytime soon, but one of the lessons learned from Thursday night is that the Bruins need to get better backup goaltending from a collective crew (Zane McIntyre and Malcolm Subban included) that’s won just once in eight games behind Tuukka Rask this season. 

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

Julien: 'A lot of problematic things' in Bruins loss to Avalanche

BOSTON – The Bruins simply weren’t ready to play on Thursday night when the puck was dropped against the Colorado Avalanche at TD Garden. 

They fell down quickly by a 2-0 score, had a couple of completely inept power plays in the first period that sucked all the game’s momentum away from them and received some subpar goaltending from Anton Khudobin on the way to a 4-2 loss to the lowly Avs. About the only B’s person above reproach in this one was David Pastrnak after scoring a pair of goals in the second period to get Boston back into the game, but it all fell short in a very frustrating, lackadaisical loss to a Western Conference team that isn’t very good. 


Needless to say B’s coach Claude Julien wasn’t too happy after a loss where the Bruins might have had more success with a smarter approach to holding the puck. 

“There were a lot of problematic things [in the loss]. No doubt that the power play could have helped us in the first period, and failed to do that. They’ve got to be better,” said Julien. “We needed some saves tonight, and we didn’t get them. [Anton Khudobin] has got to be better. 

“A lot of things here that we can be better at, and take responsibility [for]. But at the same time, you got to move on here.  It’s one of those nights that had we been smarter from the get go, we would have had a chance.”

Clearly it was about a lacking group effort when dissecting the loss, and the minus-3 for David Krejci on Thursday night marked back-to-back negative performances from the playmaking Czech center in big spots. The goaltending was shoddy with Anton Khudobin allowing four goals on 22 shots for Colorado, and unable to make plays on a couple of Colorado shots from outside the painted area that built up the Avs lead in the first place. 

But it was also very much about the inability of the Bruins to generate consistent offense outside of David Pastrnak’s offensive burst in the second period, and the complete breakdown of the Boston power play in the opening 20 minutes. The Bruins struggled to enter the zone in their first PP possession of the game, and then allowed a Nathan MacKinnon shorthanded goal after Torey Krug futilely dove at the blue line to try and keep the puck in the offensive zone. 

The Krug misplay at the offensive blue line gave MacKinnon a clear path the net, and he buried a wrist shot past Khudobin to get the one-sided loss rolling. Beyond the costly mistakes that ended up in the back of the net, the Bruins looked sloppy and slow-reacting in their breakouts and more than willing to settle for outside perimeter shots.

That doesn’t exactly make for a winning combo even when it comes against a flawed, underachieving team like Colorado, and especially when it comes less than 24 hours after a hard-fought road game in Washington DC. 

“I think we were still sleeping there early in the game and they were able to capitalize on their opportunities. We couldn’t claw our way back,” said Brad Marchand, who picked up an assist on David Pastrnak’s second goal of the night on a perfect dish for the one-timer. “I think it was definitely a mental [block]. You’re able to battle through that physical fatigue. It was more the mental mistakes and not being prepared right off the hop of the start of the game. Again, that’s kind of where we lost it.”

The sleepwalking Bruins lost Thursday night’s valuable two points as soon as the opening puck was dropped against the Avalanche, of course, and the Bruins never got out of lollygag mode at a time when intensity should have been automatic.