Bruins

Notes: Thomas shrugs off domination of Canucks

191545.jpg

Notes: Thomas shrugs off domination of Canucks

By JoeHaggerty
CSNNE.com

BOSTON Tim Thomas has enjoyed the best regular season in the NHL's modern era of goaltending, stolen games for the Bruins during their playoff run, and journeyed deeper into the postseason than ever before.

And now, believe it or not, things are looking up.

The Canucks may have a high-powered offense, ready to strike at any time, but Thomas has owned them in his career. In three regular-season games against Vancouver, Thomas has stopped 97 out of 98 shots for a .990 save percentage. He has a perfect 3-0 record and boasts a pair of shutouts against the lineup featuring the NHLs wonder twins: Henrik and Daniel Sedin.

Thats as close to utter domination as a goaltender will ever achieve over one team, and it provides an interesting little sidelight heading into the Finals.

Thomas backstopped the Bs to a 3-1 win over the Canucks at Rogers Arena in February during their seven-game winning streak, and continued an impressive string of dominance against one of the NHLs best teams over the last five years.

As one might expect, Thomas isn't buying into any of the hype. After all, the regular-season games against the Canucks are one-shot deals during the season without the gravity of the playoffs.

The factors involved dont exactly give the proper reading on what will happen once playoff intensity and a chance at the Stanley Cup entered into the mix.

It really has no relevance," Thomas said. "Its kind of like, why did I have pretty good success against Ottawa? . . . . You know theres no rhyme or reason to it, it just happens to be the way its worked out.

There is no use dwelling on the success youve had before . . . What success you can have moving forward here over the next couple of games is whats going to be important.

Certainly, though, there's confidence in that he's enjoyed success against Vancouver and tasted victory in their building a pair of things that not every Eastern Conference netminder can say.

I havent thought about it that much, said insisted. I played against this team this year once. The other two times Ive played against Vancouver, its not even worth really comparing because they were a different team and we were a different team. I know the one game that we did win this season, it wasnt an easy game, and basically we had a one-goal lead for, you know most of the time.

I think we ended up getting a two-goal lead near the end. But it was a very tight game, so you can take a little bit of confidence that you won that one game. But it only goes so far.

Thomas might take a little confidence from the fact hes utterly confounded the Canucks during his head-turning run in Boston.

But you certainly wont hear him guaranteeing anything this time around.

Approximately 1,000 fans showed up at TD Garden Monday afternoon to cheer the Bruins as they departed via bus for their flight to Vancouver. Johnny Boychuk, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton stopped to sign autographs for fans, shake hands and take in the send off from adoring fans on their way out of Boston.

Thornton skated with the Rich PeverleyGregory CampbellDaniel Paille line during practice, and donned a gold jersey in the process. Coach Claude Julien anticipated the question about Thorntons switch in practice, and said it amounted to a few more reps for the Bs enforcer after sitting out the entire Tampa Bay Lightning series.

Well, I knew that question was going to come up and I even said it before practice, Julien said. I said, Four golds, somebody is going to ask me about it.

"They dont get the same amount of ice time those others do. And with Thornton not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. I wouldnt read more into it than it was.

Peverley spent time skating with the Brad MarchandPatrice Bergeron line, and alternated reps with Mark Recchi as hes done in the last few games.

Julien said he's seen the Stanley Cup during trips to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, but never had his picture taken with it.

All I said is, the day that I even get a picture or touch it will be the day Ive earned it, said Julien. Thats been my philosophy throughout my career as a coach.

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

Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

bruins-tuukka-rask-032316.jpg

Rask recovering from concussion, may be ready to play on Saturday

BRIGHTON -- Tuukka Rask is quickly making his way through the concussion protocol and may return to action this weekend.

The Bruins netminder skated with the other injured players ahead of Monday’s main team practice at Warrior Ice Arena, and is on track to rejoin the team at regular practice on Tuesday barring any setbacks in his concussion recovery. That would leave Rask with just a couple of games missed after getting trucked by Anders Bjork at practice last week, and it would give the Bruins back their No. 1 goaltender after Anton Khudobin let in five goals vs. the Sabres on Thursday night.

“He’s in the protocol and progressing well,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “He’ll probably join us [on Tuesday] for the next step if there are no ill effects from today. That’s a positive. If there are no setbacks, I think Saturday is a more realistic [timetable for a return].”

The hope would be that Rask could start elevating his game when he does return, and play better than the goalie that’s posted the 1-3-0 record, 3.30 goals against average and .882 save percentage thus far this season. But first things first with the recovery to his first career concussion as an NHL goalie, and the set of hurdles that must be passed before Rask is again allowed to jump back into game action as early as this weekend.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Bruins practice with Rask, David Krejci and Noel Acciari all skating prior to practice, Patrice Bergeron staying off ice with a maintenance day and Kevan Miller skating in main practice with a maroon, no-contact jersey:

Marchand-Schaller-Bjork
DeBrusk-Backes-Pastrnak
Agostino-Nash-White
Beleskey-Kuraly-Vatrano

Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma

Khudobin

Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

bruins_tim_schaller_030817.jpg

Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.