Bruins

Bruins respectfully move on from Tim Thomas era

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Bruins respectfully move on from Tim Thomas era

Its safe to say the Bruins players had turned the page Bob Segar-style long before Thursdays deal that sent Tim Thomas to the New York Islanders.

Its a paper transaction as far as Im concerned, said Bruins enforcer Shawn Thornton matter-of-factly of the deal that sent the former Bruins goaltender to the Isles in exchange for a second round pick in either the 2014 or 2015 NHL draft if Thomas ever reports to New York for goaltending duty.

Certainly there was still an appreciation for a Bruins goalie who made four All-Star appearances during his career in Boston, captured a pair of Vezina Trophies and led the Bs to an unforgettable Stanley Cup title in Conn Smythe style. No matter what Thomas believed politically or what he might have deigned to post on Facebook, his teammates supported him as long as the best goaltender on the planet was his closing act.

He was a great goaltender and I definitely appreciated what he did for this hockey club. You look at the solid five years that he put together was probably better than any other goalie in the league from 2007-08 to last season, said Milan Lucic. Obviously he was a big part of the team winning a Stanley Cup here and things didnt end off the way everybody had hoped. Its time for everybody to move on. But youve got to appreciate the effort he put forth for this hockey club because he did give it his all . . . hes got two Vezinas and a Conn Smythe to show for it.

Most teammates echoed Lucics sentiments about respect for Thomas contributions and perhaps a slight tinge of lament at the way things ended for him in Boston. Bruins coach Claude Julien stressed the respect word when speaking about Thomas, and the way he performed during the coachs five years managing the goaltender with the eccentric personality.

I have a lot of respect for Tim Thomas for what hes accomplished, said Julien. As a player: a two-Vezina Trophy winner, a Stanley Cup champion and an MVP of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Hes done a lot. Even for those that view him differently as a person, I never had an issue with Tim. He had his own thoughts and ideas as a player and you run into that all the time as a coach.

There are different personalities in that dressing room that you deal with, and you learn as a coach that you have to respect them for who they are. It doesnt mean there arent times where you talked about the differences, but you always worked it out.

Tim wasnt a bad person and Ive been very clear on that. Hes a person that was pretty strong in his own views at times, but was never a bad person. Thats why we never viewed his as a distraction at times. He was a guy that thought differently. Guys said all the time that as long as he stops pucks then were okay with it.

The trade to the Isles became necessary when Thomas decided he no longer wanted to stop pucks for the Bruins, and instead opted to focus on faith, friends and family while putting Boston in a bind. The Bruins, in essence, were just happy to have the 5 million cap liability lifted from their books.

A year ago a Tim Thomas trade would have yielded much more than a conditional second round pick for the Bruins organization, but his value plummeted once he announced his NHL sabbatical.

But thats now the challenge for Islanders GM Garth Snow and the Isles players should Thomas ever show up at Nassau Coliseum with his goaltending gear ready to continue his NHL career.

The window has closed on his time in Boston, and everyone at TD Garden has respectfully moved on with their hockey lives.

Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

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Only five games into season, Bruins already sending off bad vibes

LAS VEGAS -- Even though it's only five games into a new regular season, it feels like the Bruins are in danger of going off the tracks.

They finished their three-game Western road swing Sunday with an aimless 3-1 loss to the expansion Golden Knights, which came on the heels of a wretched defeat in Colorado and a victory over the winless Coyotes. Sunday was particularly disheartening, as they never tested their ex-goalie, Malcolm Subban, putting only 21 mostly harmless shots on net against a player they gave away on waivers just a few weeks ago,

They may only have three losses in five games, but it sure feels like there's trouble starting to brew in Bruins land.

“It could be a lot of different things,” said Brad Marchand about the loss to Las Vegas. "We may not have been as mentally prepared for that game as we thought we were. They wanted it more than we did. They out-battled us in a lot of areas and they were the better team. We were making it hard on ourselves. We were trying to do too much with the puck, and not directing enough of the pucks toward the net. You can’t get rebound and you can’t get bodies there if the puck isn’t going there.”

That is a lot of different things. A lot of different problems:

-- They couldn’t fight to get to the front of the net against a rugged Vegas defensive group that was going to make them battle to get there.

-- Once again they had too many passengers along for the ride, with both Ryan Spooner and Frank Vatrano failing to even be a blip on the game’s radar screen. Spooner suffered a lower body injury midway through the game, but while he was out there he was a non-factor once again. 

-- It felt like there was no flow at all to Boston’s game, with breakouts dogged by sloppy passing and players who weren’t hard enough on the puck.

-- When they did get a chance to create something they either missed the net with their shot, or opted not to even take the shot in the first place. 

-- They lost 67 percent of the 57 draws taken during the game, and saw Spooner, Riley Nash and David Krejci and Ryan Spooner go a combined 8-for-29 in the face-off circle.

-- They chased the puck for long stretches and certainly didn’t ever put together anything approaching a consistent, driving pressure in the offensive zone.

Missing stalwart veterans like Patrice Bergeron and David Backes certainly isn’t helping. It makes the Bruins a much smaller group up front that can be pushed around by bigger, stronger defensive units.

But even so, there’s a sense the Bruins can’t consistently bring their 'A' game to the rink with them and don’t seem to have much fight when they fall down by a couple of goals. Trailing by just two goals going into the third period, the Bruins had four shots on net for most of the final period until a late flurry produced a score by David Pastrnak.

Perhaps of more concern, though, is the growing feeling that the Bruins aren’t all on the same page.

Marchand vaguely referenced that the Bruins weren’t prepared to play Sunday, and Tuukka Rask said he’ll no longer comment on anything except his own goaltending. Rask has always been candid and willing to be frank about any shortcomings after Bruins losses, but it appears that’s not something that is any longer welcome inside the B’s dressing room.

“I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on,” said Rask. “I’m not going to comment anymore on team play that much. We can just talk about goaltending. That’s just the way it is. Sorry.”

Meanwhile, Krejci was similarly short in his postgame thoughts and started talking about avoiding pointing fingers after a frustrating loss.

“There’s no reason to point fingers," he said. "Yeah, we lost a game and it was a frustrating loss. But it’s just the fifth game of the season, so we don’t need to make a big deal out of it. We’re going to back to Boston, we’re going to work hard in practices and we’re going to get ready for the next game.”

Clearly, the fact this stuff is coming to the surface just five games into the season is a cause for concern. But it makes sense, given the way the Bruins are letting an easy portion of the season slip through their fingers.

In their first 10 games of the year, they're facing only one team that made the playoffs last season and they've got plenty of spaced-out stretches in the schedule to get off to a strong, healthy start. Instead they’re losing to subpar teams and highly unproven goalies, and doing so with a real lack of energy or purpose on the ice.

Certainly management would be smart to think about shipping underperforming players like Vatrano back to the AHL in place of Peter Cehlarik or Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson. And a few more games like Sunday’s snooze-fest could advance trade talks for a player like Matt Duchene.

But there aren’t going to be any easy answers. It comes down to hard work and hunkering down together as a team, and Sunday’s pitifully inept loss in a very winnable situation was yet another sign the Bruins aren't even close to being there yet.

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

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Spooner, McQuaid injured in Bruins' loss to Golden Knights

LAS VEGAS -- The Bruins are already missing a handful of players to injuries, and they may have lost a couple more in Sunday’s loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

Ryan Spooner was knocked out in the second period with a lower body injury, and Adam McQuaid was lost in the closing seconds of the third period when he was hit by a Colin Miller rocket from the point in his leg. McQuaid had to be helped to the dressing room after staying down on the ice for a few long moments, and the hope is that it’s the same kind of mostly harmless “dead leg” hit that allowed Kevan Miller to bounce back immediately from his Friday incident in practice.

McQuaid was spotted up and walking around in the visiting dressing room area postgame, so hopefully it’s nothing serious with one of the few Bruins giving everything he has on the ice each and every night.

Spooner finished with just eight shifts and 6:42 of ice time while failing to generate much offense, and went 1-for-4 in the face-off circle before getting shelved for the rest of the game. He just has a single point and is a minus-3 in four games this season and is once again has been pretty hard to notice on the ice during 5-on-5 play. It perhaps wasn’t a huge loss for the Bruins, given how much Spooner has been struggling to find baseline consistency, but the Bruins can’t continue to sustain injuries to their center men without those missing bodies beginning to take a toll.

The Bruins already have Paul Postma on hand if they take any injuries on the back end, but any more losses up front could mean the B’s dip into Providence where Peter Cehlarik, Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson and Kenny Agostino are all off to hot offensive starts.