Bruins

Thomas continues domination of Flyers

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Thomas continues domination of Flyers

PHILADELPHIA Tim Thomas is officially in the heads of the Philadelphia Flyers.
The last time the 37-year-old was at Wells Fargo Center, he made 52 saves in an overtime victory in Game 2 of their playoff series last season. And there was no drop off in his return performance Saturday.
Thomas made 31 stops en route to his 30th career shutout with the Bruins in the 6-0 beating of the Flyers, which improved Thomas' career record against Philadelphia to 11-3-2.
Tims a battler," said coach Claude Julien. "He needed to battle tonight because they had a lot of pucks in the crease area and even though they didnt score at all -- they do a very good job of getting pucks there. He stood in the battle to make the big saves, and he didnt allow them to score to get any life.
The Bruins had suffered some defensive slippage in the last week or -- and allowed the Senators to fire 49 shots against Thomas only a few days prior -- but Thomas enjoyed a little defense renaissance with the return of Zdeno Chara.
"We had a well-rounded game today and we started well, which put the momentum back in our favor," Thomas said. "We were up 4-0 and I knew the game was in our hands. How the rest of the game would go, if we got overconfident or lazy and let them back in the game, that's something we talked about a little bit in between periods.
"Our goal was not to get lazy. We were happy to take that early lead. We didn't plan it, but the important thing is how we reacted to it. We kept playing hard."
The goaltending tandem of Thomas and Tuukka Rask put on a show during the week; the two stopped 119 out of 121 shots over three wins against the Kings, Senators and Flyers. That amounts to a .983 save percentage in the three Boston wins, and is another important facet of a Bs hockey machine that can beat opponents in a multitude of ways.
Thomas was lucky at times against the Flyers, such as when Wayne Simmonds lifted wobbly wrist shot that flicked off the left post and then dropped in front of Thomas in the crease area. He hopped onto the puck for a whistle, but then was quickly pushed over the goal line while sponging up the puck. It was never called a goal on the ice and a review revealed that Thomas was indeed shoved over the goal line.
Daniel Briere and Jakub Voracek conjured up some quality scoring chances while the game was still in the early stages, but it turned into an easier task once the Bruins offense had built up a four-goal bulge in the first period.
Over the last couple of months weve won quite a bit and weve done it in a lot of different ways, obviously, said Thomas. This is one where we can pat ourselves on the back a little bit more than before because we played a complete 60 minutes.

Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

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Inconsistent Bruins hope to settle in at home

BRIGHTON -- The Bruins' actual 2-3-0 won-loss record isn’t particularly terrible, especially when you consider they were without Patrice Bergeron and David Backes.

But they've been wildly inconsistent within those first five games, playing a couple of very good games against the Predators and Coyotes while suffering three ugly, non-competitive losses to Colorado and Vegas. The Bruins are 20th in goals scored (2.8 goals per game) and 22nd in goals allowed (3.6), and their special teams have been average at best in a soft part of the schedule that should have allowed them to get off to a good start.

The Bruins have looked sloppy much of the time with chaotic breakouts, far too many breakdowns in defensive coverage, and goaltending has been average at best.

As a result they're scuffling in the Atlantic Division as the Lightning and Maple Leafs have sprinted out to strong starts. Clearly it’s still early -- nearly the entire season is in front of them -- but there’s also no illusion about the need for a quick turnaround in what’s going to be a competitive division.

That's why the next four games, all at TD Garden, are so important.

“We’ve been inconsistent in our game. We’ve been good and we’ve been not good, so hopefully being home will allow us to get back into form,” said coach Bruce Cassidy. “We knew going in with a youth movement that we’d had some ups and downs. We’ve had both. We’ve had some really strong games and we’ve had some other games where there’s a learning curve.

“As good as [our] prospects are, it falls on the core group to be solid and consistent every night. Then you lose a bit of your core group [to injuries] and you need your support players that aren’t your core group -- but aren’t kids, either -- to contribute. So we’re battling through all of that, and it’s up to us to put in a game plan that gets us through it. We haven’t achieved the level we’d like. We aren’t hiding behind that. We’d like to be better than we are right now, and we’re facing it head on every day.”

Clearly there are plenty of players in the “support player” category referenced by Cassidy who haven’t performed to date, and that also explains some of the Bruins consistency issues. Matt Beleskey, Ryan Spooner, Frank Vatrano and Riley Nash have a combined two assists and a combined minus-5 rating through those first five games, and are among the players that need to step up and perform if the Bruins are going to start achieving the consistency that Cassidy is actively seeking right now.

Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

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Rask helped off ice at Bruins practice after collision

BRIGHTON, Mass – Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice Wednesday when it appeared rookie Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. 

Coach Bruce Cassidy didn't have much in the way of an encouraging update on Rask following practice: "He left early. We had a line rush drill where there was obviously contact around the net. He's being evaluated. Hopefully, he's fine, but we don't know anything until he gets checked out."

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Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

The Bruins continue to look for the right mix of players at the start of the season and they’ve called up a couple of forwards off to hot starts in Providence for a look.

Big, skilled Slovakian winger Peter Cehlarik and AHL scoring champ Kenny Agostino have both been called up while it looks like some struggling NHL veterans, perhaps Matt Beleskey and Frank Vatrano, might be hitting the pine.

The two call-ups, along with Jakob Forsbacka Karlsson were off to a red-hot start in Providence: Agostino leads Providence with two goals and five assists for seven points (tied for third in AHL) with a plus-four rating in three games this season. Cehlarik is second on the team with two goals and three assists for five points with a plus-three rating in three games with Providence.

Patrice Bergeron was again wearing the maroon no-contact jersey at practice on Wednesday while participating in line drills, and it would appear it’s going to be a stretch for him to be available vs. the Canucks. Adam McQuaid returned to practice on Wednesday, so Ryan Spooner was the only injured Bruins regular that wasn’t able to suit up and practice with the team.

Tuukka Rask had to be helped off the ice midway through practice when it looked like Anders Bjork crashed hard into the Bruins No. 1 goaltender in a drill. Rask never returned in what looked like another streak of bad luck for the B’s. Rask is off to a slow start at 1-3-0, with a 3.30 goals-against average and .882 save percentage, but Boston can ill afford to lose their top goalie right now.

Here are the line combos and D-pairings from Wednesday afternoon’s practice with it looking like David Backes might be up for a possible return on Thursday:  
 
Marchand-Bergeron-Bjork
DeBrusk-Krejci-Pastrnak
Schaller-Kuraly-Backes
Cehlarik-Nash-Agostino
 
Beleskey-White-Vatrano
 
Chara-McAvoy
Krug-Carlo
Miller-Postma
McQuaid
 
Rask
Khudobin