Patriots

Thomas not a distraction for B's vs. Predators

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Thomas not a distraction for B's vs. Predators

BOSTON -- Nobody asked Tim Thomas about his Facebook page on Saturday.

That's the way it should have been.

The Bruins' 4-3 shootout win over the Nashville Predators at the TD Garden had nothing to do with political views or personal opinions revealed through social media outlets.

This was about hockey, which is exactly what Thomas so adamantly insisted after Thursday's practice at Ristuccia Arena, when he was peppered with questions about his latest Facebook comments on religious freedom.

"That has absolutely nothing to do with the Bruins or hockey," said Thomas on Thursday, before walking away from reporters when asked if he regretted the Facebook comments.

Bruins coach Claude Julien also insisted on Thursday that there were no issues inside the dressing room because of those comments, and that they will never mix politics with hockey.

All of that seemed to prove true on Saturday afternoon, as Thomas made two huge saves in the shootout to help seal the deal on the type of hard-fought win that some -- outside the Bruins organization -- thought the team would have trouble with, because their top goaltender was becoming a "distraction."

There were no distractions on Saturday with Thomas in net, as he picked up his 23rd win of the season.

He allowed three goals on only 22 shots in the win, but his two stops in the shootout helped give Boston two points on a day in which they nearly lost in regulation.

"It probably would have been a real tough loss had we not been able to come out with a win, with the way we played this afternoon," said Julien afterwards.

Thomas first stopped Sergei Kostitsyn on Nashville's first shootout attempt. Kostitsyn decked right at the last second, but Thomas extended his left pad to the left post and stuffed the Predators shifty forward.

Thomas then made a save on Martin Erat on Nashville's second attempt, and never had to make a third, as the Bruins scored two shootout goals to secure the win.

"I got fortunate on the first one, I think, that Kostitsyn couldn't lift it, because obviously I was taking away down low," said Thomas. "And the second one there, I also think I got a little bit fortunate, because the puck kind of bounced on Erat at the hashmarks, right in the area where you're going to decide whether to shoot or deke. And he had no option, really, except for to go with the way the puck went.

"Bergy scoring was huge for me, and then Bergy scoring that second one, so that i don't even have to make another save. I was very appreciative."

Patrice Bergeron scored the game-clinching goal in the shootout. He also scored the Bruins' first goal of the game, with four minutes left in the first period. It was a shorthanded goal. And any goaltender would be thrilled about that.

Thomas allowed a power-play goal in the second, and two even-strength goals in the third. But the Bruins kept the Predators' shot count low, which at times, can make it tough for a goaltender to get into a rhythm. And Thomas admitted that, at times on Saturday, it wasn't easy to keep that rhythm going -- especially in the second period, when Shea Weber's goal 7:32 in, was Nashville's first shot of the period.

"I was doing the best I could to mentally stay in it, like some of the little stuff like when you get out to play the puck can help keep you in the game," said Thomas. "So, I didn't feel that bad actually, through the first period.

"It got harder, as we went on," added Thomas. "We dominated so much in the early second period, that I didn't really get any action. So at that point it got harder and harder to get into a complete rhythm. But I was watching what was going on in front of me, and I was happy to see us controlling the play and getting the scoring chances. So it's fine if I don't get shots. It's my job to be ready when I do get shots."

Thomas' social-media activity in recent weeks has forced critics to nail that point home -- that Thomas' job is to be ready to stop pucks, not to express his opinion on anything outside of the hockey world.

The thought was that Thomas was becoming a distraction.

These Bruins -- with Thomas in goal -- didn't look distracted on Saturday. And they got back to their blue-collar, hard-working, never-say-die hockey to get back back to finding a way to win.

Proving true that Bruins aren't going to mix hockey with politics.

"It's our job to build off this," said Thomas. "I think we played a much better game. And we found a way to win again. Over the past two years, that's what we've been really good at. Most of our wins we've earned, and I think we earned our win tonight. I guess the good part is, we're finding a way to win."

Morning Skate: Golden Knights happy to get Malcolm Subban back

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Morning Skate: Golden Knights happy to get Malcolm Subban back

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while watching old Super Friends episodes with my 4-year-old on a Saturday morning.

*Has anybody ever been as excited to get a healthy Malcolm Subban back in the lineup as the Vegas Golden Knights are this weekend? Pro Hockey Talk is asking the question, and I think I can honestly answer with a resounding “No.” We’ll see if he’s actually worth all the excitement, but obviously, he’s better than what the injury-plagued Golden Knights had in the interim.

*The Buffalo Sabres continue to get very little return for any of the investments they’ve made in the team over the last couple of years.

*Ryan Suter knows what it takes to remain among the NHL defenseman workhorses in the NHL, and he is consistently there year in and year out.

*Dustin Brown has been a resurgent performer for the Los Angeles Kings this season and is one of the big storylines behind their turnaround.

*The Detroit Red Wings are beginning to more openly adopt Jeff Blashill’s speed game, but the question is how much that will pay dividends for them.

*For something completely different: Good piece in the Boston Globe about Danny Ainge’s relationship with recently passed Red Sox great Bobby Doerr.