Notes: Thomas earns NHL's second star of October


Notes: Thomas earns NHL's second star of October

By Danny Picard

WILMINGTON -- When the Bruins defeated the Buffalo Sabres in the first round of last year's Stanley Cup playoffs, it was Tuukka Rask who led the way in goal.

Just over six months later, Tim Thomas is Boston's go-to netminder. He's 6-0 with a 0.50 goals-against average and, after his third shutout of the season on Saturday night in Ottawa, earned the NHL's second star for the month of October.

Coach Claude Julien, as usual, hasn't tipped anyone off about his starting goaltender of choice on Wednesday night in Buffalo -- Boston's first rematch with the Sabres since last April's playoff series. But with three days off in between games, and the next set of games (after Buffalo) being back-to-back on Friday in Washington and Saturday night at the TD Garden against the St. Louis Blues, and with the B's already riding the hot goalie, it would seem to make sense to start Thomas on Wednesday in Buffalo and again on Saturday at home, with Rask getting the call on Friday.

Thomas has been getting a lot of attention because of his hot start this season, and it continued on Tuesday with the NHL naming him their second star of the month.

Dealing with all the attention isn't new to Thomas, a guy who usually does a good job of thinking before he speaks.

"I've dealt with it before, and you know, it's something that's sort of the price of doing well," said Thomas about the positive attention he's receiving in the early season. "Realistically, you do have to make sure you keep your head on straight, because when you're talking all the time, some things that come out of your mouth is too much. I prefer to think a little while longer before I talk about everything.

"But in these kind of forums," he said while untying his skates after practice, and the media huddled around his locker, "you have to answer before sometimes you really have the time to think that answer through."

Fortunately, for Thomas, all that positive attention didn't lead to negative questions on Tuesday. That's also the result, or price -- as he put it -- of doing well.

When the Bruins faced the Sabres in last year's playoffs, Buffalo was the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference and the first-place team in the Northeast Division. Boston was the No. 6 seed in the East and the third-place team in the Northeast. The Bruins won that series in six games.

Now, the tables have been turned. It's the B's who are ahead of the Sabres in the standings, and instead of Ryan Miller being the hottest goalie in hockey, Thomas holds that honor through the first month of the NHL season.

The Bruins' coach reminisced, on Tuesday, about what the team learned in that playoff series.

"I don't think it was an easy series by any means," said Julien before the team left for Buffalo. "We always have some tough games against them. There's a certain style that they play, and ours makes it, for the most part, pretty close games. And it's gone back and forth.

"They've got a great goaltender, and when they're healthy, they're a team that, on the attack, is very dangerous. They really collapse and smother you in their defensive zone. So it's never an easy game against them."

Julien also talked about the possibility of instituting a "coaching challenge" in the NHL, similar to that in the NFL.

The Bruins' coach said he's keeping an open mind to the possibility of it, and pointed out a loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets last January, in which Milan Lucic was called for a double-minor for high sticking a player with less than two minutes remaining in the third period, and the Blue Jackets scored on the power play to win the game.

Replays showed that the high stick wasn't Lucic's. It was a Blue Jackets player who hit his own teammate.

"I think before I give my approval on that, I'd certainly have to look at what it's all about," said Julien. "Certainly, you need structure when it comes to that. You can't keep challenging every play you think should be challenged. There's got to be some sort of filter."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while digging the Spider-Man trailer that dropped last night. 

*John Scott has finally called it a day and announced his retirement, and apparently there’s a book of his memoirs also coming out too. I’m predicting it’s not headed for the New York Times best seller list. 

*Winter Olympics participation and the CBA negotiations for the NHL are starting to merge into giant issue.  

*Connor McDavid calls the Flyers' Brandon Manning classless for telling him on the ice that he purposefully tried to hurt him last season. Some players might also take issue with McDavid making public what another player said to him on the ice. That’s kind of a no-no for most hockey players and breaks an unwritten rule that McDavid might think he’s above given his star status. This whole thing isn’t a good look for anybody. 

*Kevin Stevens pleads guilty to federal drug charges in what’s become a pretty sad situation for the former NHL star. 

*New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is beginning to raise questions with his play, and his massive price tag. 

*Youngsters Zach Weresnki and Dylan Larkin took similar paths to the NHL, and are both considered part of the talented young generation full of hockey stars. 

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Carey Price taking a nutty on Kyle Palmieri after the player crashed into his crease last night. Price is being celebrated for sticking up for himself, but if another goalie did that to a Habs player at the Bell Centre, there would already be a warrant out for his arrest. Play it both ways, Montreal!  

*For something completely different: here’s the aforementioned new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that looks pretty darn good. 


Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster.