Notes: Thomas off his game in Game 2


Notes: Thomas off his game in Game 2

By Joe Haggerty

VANCOUVER It was a tough night for Tim Thomas, which usually means a challenging night for the Bruins.

Thomas was solid while stopping 20 out of 21 pucks in the second and third periods of Saturday nights 3-2 overtime loss to the Vancouver Canucks in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final.The Vezina Trophy favorite made 30 saves in the loss, but it was at least two out of the three that got away that bothered him afterward.He missed on a short-side shot by Alex Burrows in the first period that put the Bs in an early hole, and he jumped way out of position in overtime just a handful of seconds into the extra session to set up the Burrows game-winning strike.

Even though it was pretty clear Thomas was way out of position after biting on Burrows' pump fake during his overtime rush to the net, coach Claude Julien wasnt going to tell him to change his style this late in the game.

I think at the stage we're at right now, if I ask him to change his style, I'm not sure that's real good advice, said Julien. We turned the puck over in the neutral zone. I think we tried to chip it in. They intercepted it. Whenever you turn pucks in the neutral zone, they go on the counterattack. I think Zdeno Chara came across.

When Timmy was down, Chara had to go all the way around him. That gave Burrows that extra leverage that he needed to tuck it into the empty net.

Theres little doubt Thomas was unhappy with the outcome as his team dropped to 0-2 against the Canucks in the series, and he was certainly less than enthused about his own performance in a game Boston needed to have.

In reality as I said after Game 1, a loss is a loss. It doesnt matter if its 5-0 or the way that we lost, said Thomas. Losing stinks no matter what. Its not something that you want to do. But weve got to move forward."

Thomas was excellent in Game 1, which was lost when his defense let him down with a turnover turned into an odd-man rush. In Game 2, the 37-year-old deserves more of the blame. The goaltender needs to be a lot more consistent over the next few games if the Bruins are hoping to climb back into a series because he is their most important player.

Mark Recchi became the oldest player in Stanley Cup Final history to score a goal when he tipped home a Zdeno Chara blast from the point during a second-period power play. At 43, Recchi is by far the oldest player to score, blowing away the former record held by then-41-year-old Igor Larionov with the Detroit Red Wings.Recchi also had some pointed things to say to the critics that wanted him off the power play when he hadn't produced a goal in nearly 50 minutes of PP time in the playoffs -- and hadn't scored a power play goal of any kind for the Bruins since January before his Game 2 offensive outburst. "I'm not worried about the critics. I'm worried about my teammates," said Recchi. "Those critics are not in the dressing room every day. They don't know what I bring to the table every day. They can kiss my a--. My teammates, my coaching staff is all I care about." Alex Burrows, in the eyes of many, shouldnt have even been in the lineup for Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Final after biting Patrice Bergerons index finger.

Instead, Burrows avoided discipline (aside from a double-minor penalty during Game 1), and came back to bite the Bruins in Game 2 with a prominent role in all three goals scored by the Canucks.

Burrows set up the game-tying strike with a nifty pass through traffic from the slot area in front of the net, and won the game for Vancouver when he heeded the scouting reports on Tim Thomas, pump-faked to get the Bs goaltender moving and then patiently wrapped the puck around when Thomas was way out of the play.

There is no doubt Burrows will get a villain's welcome when he arrives in Boston Monday night for Game 3. And as much as Boston fans may cry out against the league for not having suspended Burrows, the Bruins werent about to do the same when it comes to his case, which doesn't seem to have any clear precedent in the finals.

No comment. That has nothing to do with that. I never thought about the Burrows decision in that way, said Julien. The NHL made a decision. We moved on. For us, if we start using that as an excuse, we're a lame team. To me, it's not even a consideration in the game.
Give Johnny Boychuk all kinds of credit for dropping a bone-rattling hit on Ryan Kesler in the corner early in the first period that basically took the starch out of the Vancouver center for the rest of the game. Kesler managed a shot on net and a couple of hits, but wasn't anywhere close to the presence he maintained in Game One. Kesler actually left the bench for a stretch in the first period, but returned and finished out the game at much less than 100 percent. Patrice Bergeron looked none-too-pleased about the punk-ish actions of Maxim Lapierre during Game 2 during a scrum in front of the Boston net. As Adam McQuaid yanked on the collar of a Vancouver player and dragged him out of the pile of bodies, Lapierre dangled his fingers in front of Bergeron's face in mocking fashion after the incident with Alex Burrows in Game One. Lapierre did it for a few long seconds before Bergeron swatted his hand away in disgust after looking at the Vancouver forward with equal parts disbelief and derision. It's unfortunate that a classy player like Bergeron has to deal with the dregs of the Vancouver roster during the Cup Finals, but that appears to be the pattern that's developing during the series."I've got nothing to say about that." said Bergeron. "That's the kind of guy Lapierre is, I guess."

Roberto Luongo has been outstanding for the Canucks in the first two games of the Stanley Cup Final, but the Vancouver goalie had his shutout streak stopped at 139:54 when Milan Lucic goal popped in a rebound goal during the second period.

One stat the Bruins cant feel too good about: in the history of the Stanley Cup Finals, when a home team has taken the first two games of the series, that team has gone on to win the Cup 32 out of 34 times.

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

Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins


Backes: 'Time will be the judge' on his long-term deal with Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN – Newest Bruins forward David Backes has heard the trepidation from Bruins fans about the five-year term of his contract, and he’s probably also caught wind of St. Louis Blues GM Doug Armstrong stating publicly that contract length was an area he was uncomfortable getting to on a theoretical extension with his outbound.

The prevailing wisdom is that the decade of rugged, physical play from the 32-year-old in St. Louis will cause him to start slowing down sooner rather than later, and the last couple of seasons won’t be as high quality as the first couple in Boston.

So what does the actual player think about any questions surrounding his five year, $30 million contract?

The 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes confidently said that concerns about his age, or him slowing down demonstrably in the last few years of his new contract, are “a bunch of malarkey” to borrow a favorite phrase from Vice President Joe Biden.

“I’m 32, not 52. Time will tell, but I feel really good and I take care of my body. I lay it all on the line, but when I’m not at the rink I’m resting and recovering for the next time I have to pour it all into a game,” said Backes, who logged 727 hard-hitting games all with the St. Louis Blues organization over the last 10 seasons. “Time will be the judge, but I feel like [after] five years I’ll even have a couple more [seasons] after that.

“I don’t think this is going to be end. That’s my plan. I’m still going to get better over the next five years, and hopefully have a couple of opportunities to hoist that big trophy I’ve been chasing around for the last 10 years.”

One area of concern from last season: the 21 goals and 45 points in 79 games for the Blues were Backes’ lowest totals over a full season since his first few years in the league. It might be the first signs of decline in a player that’s logged some heavy miles, or it could be a simple down season for a player that’s always focused on setting the physical tone, and defense, just as much as his offensive output at the other end of the ice.

As Backes himself said, “time will be judge” of just how well the five year contract turns out for a natural leader that will undoubtedly give the Bruins a boost as a hard-nosed, top-6 forward as he moves into the Boston phase of his NHL career.

Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?


Thursday, July 28: Will the Bruins end up with Jimmy Vesey?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading after a pretty amazing, on-point succession of speeches by Joe Biden, Michael Bloomberg and Barack Obama at the Democratic National Convention last night. It was quite a contrast to the absolute circus sideshow that went on in Cleveland last week.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynksi chronicles the Jimmy Vesey Sweepstakes, and the late entry of the Chicago Blackhawks as a suitor. Wysh still feels, as I do, that the Bruins end up getting this talented player at the end of the day.

*The details of the charges levied against Evander Kane paint an ugly picture of a hockey player doing a lot of the wrong things.

*PHT writer Mike Halford says that the Carolina Hurricanes might be ready to snap their playoff drought after extending head coach Bill Peters.

*John Tavares tells the Toronto media not to count on him ever pulling over a Maple Leafs jersey amid post-Stamkos speculation.

*Well, would you look at this? The Nashville Predators are providing salary cap and contract info on their own team website. What a concept!

*The Edmonton Oilers say they will have a new captain in place by opening night, and it will be interesting to see if they go the Connor McDavid route.

*Brian Elliott is thrilled at the opportunity to be “the man” between the pipes for the Calgary Flames this season after splitting time in St. Louis.

*For something completely different: a great feature on Howard Stern, and his transformation from shock jock to master interviewer.

Joe Haggerty can be followed on Twitter: @HacksWithHaggs

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

Bergeron and Marchand convinced Backes to join Bruins

JAMAICA PLAIN -- For those excited about the idea of an intense, hard-hitting David Backes in a Bruins uniform for the next five years, you have Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand to partially thank.

Backes, 32, didn’t know either of them all that well prior to this summer, aside from his experiences on ice against them. But Bergeron and Marchand called Backes multiple times while recruiting him to Boston, and it was a major factor in the former Blues captain signing a five-year, $30 million deal with the B's.

“Being an outsider, we need to have a little bit of confession here that Marchand is the kind of guy that gets under everybody’s skin. I was no different,” said the 6-foot-3, 221-pound Backes, who has 206 goals and 460 points in 727 career NHL games, all with St. Louis. “But then talking to him a little bit in the interview process prior to July 1, I hung up the phone and had to take a deep breath and say to myself, ‘That little disturber, he’s actually a pretty good guy.’ Those guys end up being the best teammates.

“A guy like Bergeron, when you play against him [he's] always in the right spot, and is never making mistakes. Those types of guys, again, are guys you want on your team, and guys you want to go to war with. They’re All-World players, Bergeron is an All-World player. But he’s also a down-to-earth guy that puts his work boots on, takes his lunch pail and plays his butt off. He’s nice to the young kids, and he’s nurturing in helping them come along. I think you’ve seen in the NHL that you need a few guys on entry-level deals, or a few guys to outperform their contracts, in order to have success in the salary-cap era. That nurturing and mentorship can really foster those kinds of performances.”

While Backes went on to mention Zdeno Chara as another highly respected, formidable opponent with whom he’ll now share a dressing room, it was interesting to note that players who currently have letters on their sweaters, like Chara and David Krejci, didn’t play a part in the recruiting process. Instead it was the next captain of the team (Bergeron) and a player (Marchand) currently in the middle of negotiations entering the last year of his contract.

“I talked to both Bergeron and Marchand twice before July 1," said Backes. "Just the way that they spoke about their team mentality, and teaming up together and sharing the load of hard minutes that need to be played, and also sharing the load of the offensive necessities that a team has . . . those things just rang true to my beliefs of a team.

“You’re all equals whether you’re the top-paid guy, or the top-minute guy, or the low-minute guy, or the guy that’s playing every other game because you’re the healthy scratch in the other games.

“We all needed to be treated equal, and do whatever we can to support the next guy. When the next guy has success, we have to be just as happy as if we scored the goal. That’s the type of thing where, when you get that from the full 20 guys on the ice, it’s so tough to be beat. Those are the teams that win championships.”

It will be interesting to see just how much involvement Backes has with the Bergeron and Marchand combination. He could very easily be a right-wing fit with those two dynamic forwards next season, or he could be a third-line center behind Bergeron and Krejci and give the Bruins elite depth down the middle of the ice.

True to his team-oriented nature, Backes said he’ll be happy to play at either position and do whatever Claude Julien feels is best.