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A Seven Point Lead with Seven to Go

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas watches the puck in the second period of an NHL hockey game with the Philadelphia Flyers, Sunday, March 29, 2009, in Philadelphia. Thomas made 45 saves for his career-high 32nd win as the Bruins beat the Flyers 4-3. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
The Bruins earned a day off on Monday after two big victories and four more points toward an Eastern Conference regular season championship.

“It’s good,” said Tim Thomas to NESN’s Naoko Funayama. “To come home from a road trip with four points is big.

“A couple of weeks ago [we] were struggling, now we’ve put three wins in a row, so that’s definitely a positive.”

Thomas had 45 saves against the Philadelphia Flyers and currently leads the league in save percentage (.931) and goals against average (2.13). And after a week off, Thomas showed no signs of rust going into the clubs final tune-ups before the playoffs.

“I didn’t feel any rust,” said the veteran goalie. “I felt pretty good.

“They had a lot of shots, so that makes it easier to get back into the game.”

That could be said of all the Bruins on Sunday.

“Oh, it was much better. We played a real solid game,” said Bruins head coach Claude Julien to NESN.

Julien said that the Flyers had played a good game as well.

“It was one of those games where I thought that both teams played very well,” said Julien. “We were fortunate enough to come up with the win.”

Each team had five penalties, which put special teams in the spotlight. Boston was 1/3 on the power play and killed off all three of the Flyers man advantages.

“Our guys did a great job – especially on that five-on-three that they had for almost two minutes,” said Julien. “I think that was probably a turning point in the game.

Boston Bruins left wing Milan Lucic (17) celebrates his second goal while Philadelphia Flyers goalie Antero Niittymaki, of Finland, looks back into the net during the first period of an NHL hockey game Sunday, March 29, 2009, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Tom Mihalek)
“If they score on that power play [the outcome] could have been different.”

Julien also told Funayama that he thought his club had handled the time off well.

“Absolutely. I think last night you saw a little bit of rust in our game as far as our defensive assignments are concerned, but [Sunday] was much better,” he said.

“And hopefully [when] we play again on Tuesday we keep getting better and keep building towards the playoffs.”

The resurgence of Milan Lucic is just one of those building blocks and on Sunday the big forward had two big goals and two big hits.

“Both my goals came from turnovers in the defensive zone,” said Lucic to the television audience. “So, we’ve been doing a pretty good job with that.

“We’ve just got to make sure that we are defensively responsible, because when we’re [making them] turn over the puck, that’s when we are getting chances.

“I think when we complicate things we’re just turning the puck over…but when we are making short passes and keeping things simple that’s when we are successful.”
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