Bruins

Thomas focusing on the small picture

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Thomas focusing on the small picture

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- It looks like Tim Thomas is going to take his time with bold predictions and grand pronouncements.

The 37-year-old goalie had some fun with the season ticket holders during the State of the Bruins last week by stridently dedicating this season to repeating as winner of the Stanley Cup, Vezina Trophy and Conn Smyth Trophy for a second consecutive year.

"I won the Cup, the Conn Smythe and the Vezina, said Thomas. The conclusion I came to this summer is that I have no choice but to shoot for it again this year.

The confident Thomas played to the crowd with his certainty and brought down the house with fan applause and hollers once he finished up his sentence.

That version of Thomas had left the building on Saturday morning for the first day of camp. Instead, the Bs goaltender was more worried about tweaking his equipment than winning a triple crown of NHL goaltending awards during the month of September.

I talked about season goals before, but I dont think the first day of camp is the right time to talk about what you think is going to happen this year, said Thomas, who set the modern NHL record with a .938 save percentage last season. Id rather focus on the immediate that its the first day of camp and a small step forward. I just want to focus on getting better every day -- and the smaller picture -- rather than to get into that kind of stuff right now.

Thomas didnt need to be reminded about the whopping number of regular season and playoff games (82) he skated in last season. Thomas knows that many are expecting a physical letdown after his heavy workload last year, but the Bs goaltender said any offseason recovery was much more mentalemotional in nature rather than physical.

Hes not coming off hip surgery and Thomas was able to work out this summer as he always had in the past.

But Thomas has also never been quite as comfortable with his hockey station in life as he is right now after winning every award imaginable in one of the best NHL goaltending seasons in the modern era of hockey.

I actually feel good. Last year I was coming off that hip surgery and I wasnt even allowed to be on the ice until the first day of camp. If anything Im in better all-around condition than last year. At this point I dont feel the 82 games from last season anyway, said Thomas, who knew the exact number of games played off the top of his head. Physically I dont feel too bad. Mentally and emotionally you give so much energy that those are the harder parts to deal with.

Youre in battle mode for two months straight because thats what the playoffs are. Plus the whole season youre kind of in that mode, but it gets stepped up in the playoffs. To have it suddenly be over that was harder than the physical things for me anyway.

The only remaining vestige from Thomas playoff performance from last season: the handlebar mustache still on the Bs goaltenders face.

But even Thomas championship facial hair has no guarantee of making it to the regular season this year.

That would be part of the Bruins 'big picture' that Thomas isnt touching at this point in training camp.

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

'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

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'I definitely wasn't mad at our team,' Rask says of Vegas postgame comments

BRIGHTON, Mass – Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was acting a bit out of character after the Sunday night loss to the Vegas Golden Knights when he said he wouldn’t be commenting on team performance outside of his own goaltending. 

Clearly, it was a tense atmosphere in the Bruins dressing room following an extremely bad road performance and it would seem very likely there’s probably been some friction in the past between Rask and positional players over his postgame candor.

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That was the backdrop for Rask keeping it laconic, and saying on Sunday night: “I just try to go out there and give us a chance to win every night. That’s what I’m focused on. 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.”

It would seem that some fans and Bruins observers took that to mean Rask was pissed off at his Bruins teammates after a few breakdowns defensively, and a total non-performance at the offensive end of the ice.

Taking all that into account, Rask clarified his comments a bit after practice Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and said it’s all about focusing on his own performance rather than taking issues with any of his teammates.

“You lose games and you’re not happy with your performance. Somebody just told me that I guess it got spun the wrong way that it was me mad at my teammates or something. That’s definitely not the case,” said Rask, whom at 1-3-0 with a 3.30 goals-against average and .880 save percentage this season, is clearly in need of some improvement as well.

“You lose games and you definitely hold yourself accountable and you want to talk about your performance and what you need to do to get better," Rask said. "So, that’s where I was coming from. I definitely wasn’t mad at our team. I was more mad at myself, so that’s that.

“You always try to give a fair assessment about the game, but I think the biggest thing that I need to worry about, and what everybody else needs to worry about, is how they get better themselves. You start from that, so that’s where I was coming from.”

The prospect of getting Patrice Bergeron and David Backes back healthy would go a long way toward improving the Bruins play on the ice and stabilizing things defensively for Rask and the rest of the Black and Gold. That’s really what’s needed at this point to improve a situation where the B’s are 23rd in the NHL, averaging 3.6 goals allowed per game, and real, rather than figurative, fingers might start getting pointed all around if it doesn’t start looking better in short order.  

Morning Skate: Shawn Thornton brightening hospitalized kids' days

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Morning Skate: Shawn Thornton brightening hospitalized kids' days

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while back in the good, ol' Eastern Time Zone.
 
*Really nice piece from Shawn Thornton in the Players' Tribune about the inspiration provided by his “Nanny” and how he’s come to truly love the community service and hospital visits while involved with professional hockey. He’s always been one of those athletes that just stops by children’s hospitals for a visit without needing the attention for it, and that is a credit to his great generosity and empathy for those brave kids.

 *You want a Stanley Cup made out of bottle caps? Well, the world will certainly provide a Stanley Cup made out of bottle caps.

*Defenseman Connor Murphy hasn’t been the player that the Chicago Blackhawks expected him to be since arriving in the Windy City.
 
*The Colorado Avalanche are adding a fancy stats and video man to their management group as they seek to keep improving the NHL product.
 
*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Eddie Olczyk is returning to the NBC broadcast booth as his health will allow as he continues to battle cancer. Good to see you back, Edzo!

 *Erik Karlsson is finally set to debut for the Ottawa Senators after offseason foot surgery, and it will be a case of the strong getting stronger for a Sens team off to a pretty decent start.

 *For something completely different: Just in time for Halloween, Jennifer Tilly releases all of the behind-the-scenes secrets of working with Chucky.