Thomas in a groove after preseason action

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Thomas in a groove after preseason action

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
Tim Thomas was glad to get that last one in.

After feeling like a stranger in a strange hockey land in his first exhibition game against the Islanders after the summer layoff, he faced a measly 20 shots in a preseason loss to Ottawa last week. It made the 37-year-old goalie feel better that he finished off the preseason with a 3-2 win over the Isles Saturday night.

Better than the victory, Thomas finished with 25 saves against many of the Islanders regulars including John Tavares, Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo among others and didnt allow a single goal in the final two periods. The action got hot and heavy around him for the first time, and finally made him feel like he was again stopping pucks for the Bruins.

It was a little bit easier to be busier than I was in the last two games," Thomas said. "Its tough when you go from the playoffs where youre really busy to the first couple of preseason games where youre like a goalie for the Red Wings in the early 2000s when they were dominating and seeing 20 shots or whatever. It was better to get a little bit more action.

Thomas was forced to scramble into action on several occasions with Tavares crashing in toward the net, and looked much quicker with his glove hand when Streit and Co. started bombing shots at the Boston cage from the outside. It was a marked improvement over the first couple of games, but the three appearances in preseason also allowed Thomas to charge up his batteries after an extreme workload.

Thomas played in 66 regular season games during the 2006-07 season with the Bruins and a combined 65 games (regular season and playoffs) during the 2008-09 season that registered as the highest workloads of his career. But that was before the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup all happened last year and Thomas played a combined 82 games (regular season and playoffs) while carrying his hockey club to Stanley Cup immortality.

So Thomas, as much as anybody, seems to know that selective rest during the season is going to help him be all that he can be once the postseason grind begins anew. The Bs goaltender was hesitant to proclaim himself ready for opening night even after getting into the winning feeling against the Isles last weekend but he did admit that a few practices at the beginning of this week should put him into his happy puck-stopping place.

Feeling like he was entering the regular season on a preseason winning note and playing in back-to-back games both seemed to put Thomas mind at ease that hed be ready when the real shots start firing Thursday night against the Flyers.

I think I would have been fine no matter what. But getting the winning feeling before the preseason ends certainly helps. Its a lot better than the losing feeling, Thomas said. Im right on track, but Ive still got a few days left before the season starts. Hopefully well be ready to go because I think Thursday is going to be a fun night raising the banner. Not only that but weve got a game against the Flyers too.

That will start a whole new journey.

Thomas and the Bruins have to hope this years journey has the same kind of happy ending as last years Stanley Cup story.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Saturday, Jan. 21: McKenzie on Julien's job security

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while proud of my wife and daughter participating in today’s Women’s March.

*This is from a few days ago, but Bob McKenzie weighing in on the prospects for Claude Julien and his job security is always worth checking out.  

*The New York Rangers have themselves a rookie named Pavel that’s doing a pretty darned good job for the Blueshirts.

*What should the St. Louis Blues do with Kevin Shattenkirk as the trade deadline approaches and the seven-year, $49 million contract waiting for him in free agency is pretty daunting?

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Kevin Allen has a list of underperforming NHL stars, including Jamie Benn and Jonathan Toews, that may have been impacted by the World Cup of Hockey. Certainly Patrice Bergeron could have made this list as well.

*Blackhawks backup goalie Scott Darling may be earning some more playing time after the way he performed against the Bruins, according to Pro Hockey Talk.

*Good news with Ottawa Senators goalie Craig Anderson set to return to the team in a couple of weeks after tending to his wife in a battle against cancer.

*The struggles of Anthony Duclair with the Arizona Coyotes mirror the team’s issues this season as well. It’s interesting that Duclair has popped up in trade rumors with the Desert Dogs this season.

*For something completely different: the final Wolverine movie with Hugh Jackman is going to be extremely emotional with its characters.


 

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

Both Millers missing from Bruins practice, but trending toward return

BRIGHTON, Mass – While both Kevan Miller and Colin Miller were missing from Bruins practice on Saturday morning, both injured Bruins defensemen could be rejoining the team soon.

Colin Miller skated on his own prior to Saturday’s team practice at Warrior Ice Arena for the second or third time since suffering a lower body injury in the win over the St. Louis Blues. Claude Julien said his presence on the ice was proof that the puck-moving defenseman is “definitely on the mend”, and could be nearing a return to practice soon with Sunday marking the sixth straight game that he’ll have missed.

Kevan Miller is out with a concussion suffered last weekend in the win over the Philadelphia Flyers, and the B’s current three-game losing streak has coincided with his absence from the lineup.

Julien said Miller has actually been away from the team for the last couple of days while dealing with a virus, and that his recovery from the concussion symptoms was good prior to being knocked down by the illness.

“Kevan was actually feeling really well and then he got hit by a virus that’s kept him in bed for the last two days,” said Julien. “It’s nothing to do with his original injury. There was a possibility he could have been ready very soon, but that’s set him back a bit.”

Both are obviously out for Sunday’s matinee against the Penguins, but a return to practice at some point next week seems like a good bet for both players. Here are the line combos and defense pairings from Saturday’s practice with the Bruins focusing on getting a good result in Pittsburgh with the hockey club on a “mom’s trip” with 22 of the players’ mothers traveling with the team to and from the game:

Marchand-Bergeron-Vatrano

Schaller-Krejci-Pastrnak

Spooner-Nash-Backes/Hayes

Blidh/Beleskey-Moore-Czarnik

 

Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

Morrow-Liles

 

Rask

McIntyre