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Lions, Goalies and Bears, Oh My!

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
Boston Bruins goalie Manny Fernandez, left, makes a save.

Settling back into the hotel room and thinking about today's practice.

The lineup was like this:

Gold: Bergeron, Kobasew, Metropolit, Murray, Schaefer, Sturm
White: Axelsson, Bochenski, Kessel, Lucic, Reich, Thornton
D-men: Alberts, Allen, Chara, Ference, Stuart, Ward, Wideman
Goal: Fernandez, Thomas

Lions, Goalies and Bears, Oh My!
No word yet about who will take the net for the Bruins Wednesday night in Anaheim.

Sitting back and looking at how Mr. Fernandez and Mr. Thomas ply their trade, I marveled at how consistent they both were at stopping the puck, but I see their billing thusly:

Montreal Canadiens' Saku Koivu, right, tries to get the shot off against Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas .
Manny -- No wasted movement.
Timmy -- Just stop the puck.

I often remember a talk Thomas and I had last year. He said that he wondered if some of the goals that he let in just looked a lot worse than they might otherwise seem, simply because he throws everything at the puck and can sometimes find himself in odd positions after a play.

I think that is very true and you can see it just by watching practice.

Whereas, Fernandez often looks feline in his movements and I often find myself comparing him to a large cat (lion?) playing with a vulcanized rubber catnip toy. There is a quiet calm about him until the shooter makes a move and only then is he on the puck. It is often quite beautiful to watch.

Tim, on the other hand, sometimes looks like the bears he hunts in the off season: rushing out (ferociously) to chase the shooter, other times scrambling on all fours to hunt the puck as if it were a piece of meat or just flashing his claws, er, glove. I think Tim himself would agree that his movements, while effective, and sometimes spectacular, are often not very smooth.

Both guys are a lot of fun to watch in practice and today was no different.

It is a true pleasure to compare and contrast the two men and their styles.

Practice, Practice, Practice...
Today, Our Boys started with 2-on-0's started by a defenseman passing up to a forward, who carried the puck into the zone. Coach Julien's charges moved on to 3-on-1's (two forwards and a d-man against one D).

Then Coach broke the guys into a couple of power play units and the the puck was flying.

5-on-3's were next with both offense and defense forechecking to end up with the puck and either score or clear the zone.

At the end of practice was the aforementioned penalty shot contest and then Metropolit, Krejci, Kobasew, Bergeron and Kessel practicing face offs.

Lastly, there was a drill which put a coach with a puck, behind a shooter. The puck is fed at or near the feet of the shooter and, without knowing where the puck was coming from, the player was supposed to make a quick shot hit the net. Kessel was on fire for most of the drill and Shawn Thornton made the most of his opportunities, as well.

"I was on FIRE," said Thornton afterward.

Hopefully everyone is on fire tomorrow night!
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