Notes: Thomas comes up big when it matters most


Notes: Thomas comes up big when it matters most

By Joe Haggerty

BOSTON Peter Chiarelli invoked the name Grant Fuhr at the end of the Bruins' series against Montreal, and he meant it as a great compliment.

The Bruins GMwas talking about the former Edmonton Oilers goaltender when looking at the way Tim Thomas was performing in the playoffs, praising Thomas for his Fuhr-like ability to be at his best when it mattered most. Thomas might give up a goal or two in these playoffs and he might not end with the gaudy .938 save percentage he brandished during the regular season -- but Thomas is consistently rising to the occasion at the right moments during the postseason.

This was true Tuesday night, even though on the face of it -- five goals allowed -- it wouldn't appear Thomas played a big role in the Bruins' 6-5, Game 2 victory that evened the series at 1-1.

But though his leaky defense had a lot of issues in front of him, Thomas hung in and made 36 saves for the win. And he was at his best while making 13 show-stopping saves in the third period.

He made two textbook stops against former teammate Marty St. Louis, and had Marc-Andre Bergeron snapping his stick out of frustration with another save. That one came with roughly four minutes to go, and came one period after Thomas' big breakaway stop on Ryan Malone that immediately turned into a Tyler Seguin sniper goal at the other end of the ice.Given the troubles that guys like Johnny Boychuk (minus-3) and even Zdeno Chara were having in front of Thomas on Tuesday night, the performance between the pipes was every bit as noteworthy as Seguin's scoring binge in the second period. Though it was ruled a goal given the NHL's rules that play continues on scoring chances even if a goaltender has lost his mask -- as Thomas did when he collided with Adam McQuaid in front of the net -- the image of a bloodied Thomas tracking a puck after he was drilled with a Dominic Mooreshot when his mask came off is the epitome of playoff hockey.

I think experience helps in those situations, said Thomas of hanging tough despite the high number of goals allowed. Experience helps you to learn that each time a goal goes in, youve just got to put it behind you. Youve got to start focusing on the next one. If you start thinking about the goals that just went in, its going to lead to other goals, and its not going to be helpful.

With our big second period there I knew we had a big lead going into the third period, and the plan wasnt to let them get close at all. But when it gets to be 6-4 and 6-5, when youre a younger goaltender, it might be hard for you to keep your focus."

Dennis Seidenberg was quietly brilliant as he put together a pair of assists in 31:25 of ice time and managed a great pass on David Krejcis goal in the second period. Seidenberg led all Bs in ice time, picked up an assist on Bostons first power-play goal of the series, and was consistently taking good offensive chances in the attack zone.

Hes a solid defenseman. When you look at the end of the game, we probably used him a lot because of the way the score tightened at the end, said coach Claude Julien.

Julien wasn't altogether pleased with his team's performance, as the five goals allowed would attest.

Just because we won the game tonight doesnt mean were happy with it," he said.

"I thought we did a lot of good things without Patrice Bergeron, who missed his second game because of the mild concussion he suffered in Game 4 against the Flyers. Our faceoffs were much better tonight, we played with the puck a lot more . . . In the first couple of periods we were putting a lot of pressure on them in their own end.

"But then again, I dont think anybody in that dressing room is extremely happy with our game because we got sloppy at times. And we turned pucks over and werent strong in the third period. Theres no doubt we were hanging on. And thank God time was on our side and we came up with the win . . . We didnt do a very good job in the third period, but those first wins in the playoffs in every series are always the toughest. And we got that under our belt now and hopefully we get better . . .

"So we need to regroup here, take the win for what it is in the playoffs, and know that we got to get better."A rough night for Boychuk, who was directly responsible for three of Tampa's five goals on the ice and never looked like he recovered after being slow to react on Adam Hall's first goal just 13 seconds into the game. Boychuk needs to be better against a team like Tampa that can hurt you once they get rolling.

The Lightning scored the first goal for the seventh straight game, but fell to 8-1 when scoring first in the playoffs.

Bruins center Marc Savard, who missed most of the season because of post-concussion syndrome, watched the game from a luxury box with his two sons. Bergeron sat with them for a large portion of the night.

Patriots coach Bill Belichick smiled and waved to the crowd when shown on the video screen beside girlfriend Linda Holliday.

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

Tuesday, Sept. 27: Jumbo Joe energizes Team Canada


Tuesday, Sept. 27: Jumbo Joe energizes Team Canada

Here are the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while wondering exactly what “semi-exact” means.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Josh Cooper has a piece on Jumbo Joe Thornton bringing an ageless energy to Team Canada.

*If you’re wondering where former B’s farmhand goaltender Jeremy Smith ended up, he’s now with the Colorado Avalanche.

*The Hockey News believes that the Bruins will be back in the playoffs this season after a two-year absence.

*While I appreciate the Hockey News linking to my work, I feel like it’s a key piece of info that I’m the Bruins Insider for CSN New England and not NESN.

*Is Team Europe coach Ralph Krueger the man with the plan to defeat a Team Canada juggernaut in the World Cup of Hockey.

*Dustin Byfuglien had an interesting take on the World Cup after flaming out with Team USA: “It is what it is. I didn’t really enjoy it.”

*For something completely different: this is not your father’s Converse, but it’s a sleek look that the kids are gonna love.



Young Bruins ‘acquitted themselves well’ in preseason debut


Young Bruins ‘acquitted themselves well’ in preseason debut

BOSTON – It was an excellent night for the many varied Bruins prospects in the preseason opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets. The B’s eventually dropped the game in a 3-2 shootout loss at TD Garden, but not before some of their young players showed exactly what they can do.

“For sure it’s a lot of fun. Coming in here everybody’s a little nervous, but it was, once you’re out there, it’s just fun. It was good to see the young guys out there,” said former University of Denver standout Danton Heinen, who scored the tying strike in the third period on a redirect. “It was definitely adjusting. You don’t totally know what to expect and then once the game went on I kind of felt a little more comfortable. We started playing better as a team.”

Former first-round pick Jake DeBrusk set up the B’s first goal with Jimmy Hayes by executing a nifty give-and-go at the Columbus net, and young skaters Jakub Zboril and Austin Czarnik made the initial transition passes that led up to the goal. In the third period Danton Heinen redirected a Brandon Carlo point shot from the slot area, and scored in his first career game played at TD Garden in an impressive show of hand-eye coordination.

Carlo, Czarnik, DeBrusk, Zboril and Heinen all had strong performances on the score sheet and at both ends of the ice, and that’s exactly what the Bruins coaching staff wanted to see with NHL jobs potentially up for grabs in main camp.

“A lot of young players in the lineup, I won’t go through all of them, but I thought quite a few of them acquitted themselves well,” said Bruins assistant coach Bruce Cassidy. “They were given opportunities to do that. I think some of them certainly took advantage of it, and did a nice job.”

It was good that the young players stepped up and made a nice impression in the preseason debut because the veteran players will cut into their opportunities once the World Cup of Hockey crew gets sprinkled into the mix starting this week.