Thomas deflects Vezina talk; Julien backs Ference


Thomas deflects Vezina talk; Julien backs Ference

By Danny Picard

BOSTON -- The Bruins didn't practice on Friday, but several players, along with coach Claude Julien were available to the media, a day after their dramatic come-from-behind overtime win in Montreal that evened their playoff series at 2-2.

The two biggest stories of the day were Tim Thomas receiving a nomination for the Vezina Trophy, and Andrew Ference's 2,500 fine for pointing his middle finger to the Montreal crowd after scoring Boston's second goal on Thursday night.

Thomas was asked about officially being a Vezina Trophy finalist, and after losing his starting job to Tuukka Rask last year, his response was just as expected.

"Very happy to hear that, obviously," said Thomas inside the Bruins locker room at the TD Garden on Friday. "After last year, wasnt quite sure if Id ever hear that again. And so obviously very happy."

Thomas will be a favorite to capture the award, over Roberto Luongo and Pekka Rinne, but with the timing of the announcement coming right in the middle of a crucial playoff series with the Canadiens, Thomas was asked if talk of the award will be a distraction.

"Only if you make it," said Thomas. "Its weird timing, that we happen to be in the middle of a very tough first round series. So its really, to be honest with you, its an honor. And I could talk about it right now but my focus will immediately go back to the playoff series. I wont be thinking about the Vezina later today."

Distracted or not, everyone in the organization feels he's worthy.

"I think its pretty obvious to me, and Tim is very deserving of that nomination, and obviously I am a big fan of what he has done this year," Julien said on Friday. "And if you ask me he certainly deserves it and Im sure that would get some arguments from other places. But Im certainly going to support Tim for the season hes had. Especially what he went through last year and to bounce back this year and have that kind of season, he is certainly very deserving. So I wish him all the luck and hope that he wins what he deserves."

Julien also commented on Ference's hand gesture to the Montreal crowd, saying that all he plans on doing is backing his player.

"With Andrew, I think hes been pretty open at what he thinks of the situation and his comments were pretty clear," Julien said. "And Im going to support my player. Thats my job, to support and believe your player and thats what I am going to do."

A day later, Ference was sticking with his story, that the finger in his glove got stuck, and that all he was doing was giving a fist pump.

"I talked to Mike Murphy of the NHL this morning and explained the same thing that I told you guys last night," said Ference. "He said the same thing, that it looks awful, obviously. And with this series, the whole year, how it is between the Habs and the Bruins, the fine was acceptable.

"I was pumping my fist," added Ference. "Im not giving anyone the bird or anything like that. Like I told them, it was an unintentional bird. I obviously apologize for it, it wasnt meant to insult anybody, especially a whole row of cameras in the Bell Centre and the fans sitting there. Thats definitely not the intention."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on

Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment


Friday, Oct. 21: Pee-wee push-ups draw coach’s punishment

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while anxiously awaiting a Cleveland/Chicago Cubs World Series showdown with all of the Red Sox subplots that could be involved.

*A peewee hockey coach in Quebec has been given a season-long suspension for punishing his players with hundreds of push-ups.

*The NHL game has changed radically over the last 11 years as Henrik Lundqvist has been a fixture for the New York Rangers.

*A lot has changed since Jaromir Jagr scored his first goal in 1990 and this article is worth it for the Jagr mullet picture alone.

*PHT writer and FOH (Friend of Haggs) Jason Brough says that a healthy Brandon Sutter has been a difference-maker for the Canucks.

*Carey Price is back in net for the Montreal Canadiens, and that makes the Habs a new team as they prepare for the Bruins on Saturday.

*This is what it looks like when you’ve completely given up on just about everything else except for being a hockey fan. So very gross.

*For something completely different: The Doctor Strange cast is being forced into answering some tough questions at the premiere of what is essentially a comic book movie.



Rask status in question vs. Canadiens with ‘general soreness’


Rask status in question vs. Canadiens with ‘general soreness’

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Tuukka Rask has been outstanding through his first three games this season after stumbling out of the gate last year. The .947 save percentage and sub 2.00 GAA are all the more impressive for Rask when also accounting for a lower body issue that’s been nagging at him since the opening night win a little more than a week ago.

Rask stopped 28 of 29 shots against the New Jersey Devils Thursday night in a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden, but it was also clear on a couple of stops that he was feeling discomfort in his lower half as he extended into the full butterfly. 

That was confirmed by Rask following the win when he admitted he was dealing with “something” after the game, and by his absence from the practice ice at Warrior Ice Arena on Friday morning.

“Uh-huh. There’s always a little something-something,” said a smirking Rask, when asked if he’s playing through something physically.

Instead, Babson College goalie coach Mike Ronan was called into emergency duty, and took the practice ice along with Bruins backup netminder Anton Khudobin.

Claude Julien said following practice that Rask was dealing with the same “general soreness” that last week pushed him out of a scheduled start against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and it’s uncertain whether he will make the start against the Montreal Canadiens on Saturday.

“The general soreness he had last week is still there,” said Julien. “[The medical staff] will see tomorrow how he's doing.”

Rask also missed a Bruins practice with soreness last Friday in Toronto, and wasn’t able to play the next night in the loss to the Maple Leafs. Injuries aside, Rask has been brilliant against both New Jersey and Winnipeg and was solid over the final 40 minutes against the Blue Jackets in an opening night win to start the season.

“Tuukka was outstanding in Winnipeg and he was good again [vs. New Jersey],” said Julien. “So, there are no issues with Tuukka. I think he’s giving us the hockey and the goaltending that we are looking for.”

Well, maybe there is one slight “issue with Tuukka” if a nagging lower body issue starts keeping him out of Bruins games and practices on the regular.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings at Friday practice:









Liles-C. Miller