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

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that. 

 

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

Chara ‘feels better’ as he closes in on return, but won’t play in Buffalo

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Zdeno Chara said he is “feeling better” after going through a full practice with the Bruins, but the captain won’t be making the one game road trip to Buffalo for Saturday afternoon’s matinee game vs. the Sabres. 

Chara was going through line rushes and battle drills with the rest of his teammates while practicing for the second day in a row, but made it clear that his lower body injury hasn’t been cleared for game action yet. 

“It’s day-to-day. It feels better…yeah. But it’s still day-to-day,” said a rather laconic Chara when it came to questions about his injury. “It would feel much better [to play] than it feels [not playing].”

Claude Julien said his 39-year-old defenseman has moved into true “day-to-day” status as he nears a return after missing what will be his sixth game in a row on Saturday afternoon, but that he isn’t quite ready to go just yet.

“[Chara] and [Noel] Acciari won’t be on the trip,” said Julien. “I think [Chara] is getting pretty close. When you see him at practice things are going pretty well for him. I think that the term day-to-day is fitting for him right now. A lot of times when we say day-to-day we don’t know whether it’s going to be two days, three days or even a week. But in his case I would say that day-to-day is really day-to-day now with him.” 

One thing the Bruins can be heartened by is that they’ve managed to survive without Chara: the B’s have gone 2-2-1 and allowed just nine goals in the five games since their No. 1 defenseman went down. They have been able to continue collecting points in sometimes ugly, workmanlike fashion. 

That gives the Bruins the luxury of not rushing their D-man along before he’s ready and gives some of their other defensemen added confidence that they can effectively do the job with or without their 6-foot-9 stopper.