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

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally


Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious. 

Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy


Sweeney: 'Helpless feeling' hoping World Cup players return healthy

BRIGHTON, Mass. – It’s a bit of a helpless feeling for an NHL general manager watching their star players participate in an intense hockey tournament like the World Cup of Hockey that doesn’t directly benefit their respective teams.

Not helpless because of the tournament’s outcome, obviously, but helpless because players could return from Toronto dinged up, or even worse significantly injured.

Aaron Ekblad had to shut it down for Team North American with what many speculated was a concussion, and Pittsburgh goalie Matt Murray is out a month, or more, with a broken hand sustained playing for the same young guns team.

So, it certainly must have been an uneasy few moments for Don Sweeney when Brad Marchand was pulled from Team Canada’s last game for the concussion protocol after a nasty-looking collision with Team Europe forward Marian Hossa.

Marchand went through the testing, and ended up returning to the game no worse for the wear. But it could have been a lot worse for a Bruins team that can’t afford to be missing Marchand, Patrice Bergeron or Zdeno Chara, who are still playing for teams alive in the semifinal round of the tourney.

“I would expect all of us to have been in a similar situation. For everybody - any general manager, coaches, staff, you're concerned about [injuries],” said Sweeney, talking about the World Cup and Marchand’s close call. “I mean, especially when you realize the stakes are going to go up as the tournament goes along. The pride involved - it's a risk. There's no question, it's a risk.

“But you also want to see them play their best hockey and they're not going to hold back. Yeah, it's a definite concern. You've got your fingers and toes crossed.”

David Pastrnak and Tuukka Rask have already returned to Boston fully healthy. David Backes should be joining the team anytime now after Team USA’s rude dismissal from the tournament. But Sweeney and the Bruins still have their sensors out for the three B’s players taking part that aren’t quite out of the woods yet before returning to B’s camp in one piece.