After practice today, Claude Julien weighed in on the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"I think when you are talking about the Leafs, you are talking about a team that has a lot of confidence,right now," said the Bruins head coach. "Their work ethic is creating situations where they are in every game.
"There's been many times this year when they've been down, early, in the game and have battled themselves back into it.
"They don't quit," he said.
Again, Julien emphasized the importance of a 60-minute effort.
"Tomorrow, we have to understand that we need to be ready for a team that is going to come out hard and compete hard from start to finish," he said. "This is where we have to be willing to push back and at least match, if not surpass, their work ethic and their intensity.
"That's probably the biggest challenge we have for tomorrow.
"It's not so much about systems and everything else, it's just being ready to battle against a team that will come out hard at you," he said.
Mark Stuart was also missing from the skate -- he was feeling a little under the weather. According to Coach Julien, Stuart and Hnidy are day-to-day.
The Bruins are on the ice in Wilmington and the only missing faces that I have noticed, are that of Vladimir Sobotka, who was sent to Providence on Tuesday, and Shane Hnidy, which I will check on.
In any case, as I posted this morning’s video clips of Tim Thomas
’ two saves in the NHL’s “Saves of the Week” on the front page, I said to myself, “Well, these things have a way of working themselves out.”
Last year, “these things” was code-speak for Thomas’ not being named to the All-Star ballot, and then being included as an injury replacement.
As you know, Tim participated in the NHL Skills Competition and played in the third period of the NHL's Midwinter Classic and, thanks to a well-timed goal by teammate Marc Savard
(an All-Star snub in 2007, by the way), “The Tank” earned the “W” for the Eastern Conference.
This year, well, who knows how “these things” will turn out, but here’s hoping that in addition to the three deserving Bruins chosen to represent Boston on the All-Star Ballot (Patrice Bergeron
, Zdeno Chara
and Marc Savard
are on there this year) at least one more member of the Black & Gold gets consideration for the trip to Montreal.
Post lockout, Thomas has been a constant positive for the Bruins.
Last season, Tim won 28 games, finished fourth in the NHL save percentage (.921) and helped the Bruins make the playoffs for the first time since 2004.
This season, “The Tank” has picked up where he left off and then some.
Thomas posted a 3-1-0 record with a 0.99 goals-against average and .970 save percentage in four games last week and two of his saves are included in the NHL's "Saves of the Week". As of this morning, Thomas is first in save percentage (.944), second in goals against average (1.83) and is tied for second in shutouts with two.
Sure, there’s always ways that Tim could make the team and, knowing Mr. Thomas, the competitive streak that Tim wears as a badge of honor just got bigger.
But here’s hoping that this coming January “these things” work themselves out, yet again, and Tim joins several teammates on the ice in the Bell Center.More from practice in a bit...JB