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Notebook: New York vs. Boston

by Angela Latona / Boston Bruins
We are the Champions

With today’s 1-0 shutout win over the New York Rangers, the Boston Bruins are officially Eastern Conference champions, clinching home ice until the Stanley Cup Finals.

With only four games left after this afternoon’s tilt, the Bruins “lucky” number to clinch the conference’s top spot was one point: a win or an overtime loss.

“It’s great,” said goaltender Tim Thomas after the game. “Last game, we were able to get to where New Jersey couldn’t catch us, and with Washington getting only one point last night, we had a chance to close them off tonight, so it’s great. It’s another accomplishment.”

Timmy’s Here to Stay
Thomas, who was just re-signed to the Boston squad yesterday, also had a few accomplishments between the pipes, registering a shutout by stopping New York 31 shots.

He also added to his penalty minute total for the season when he was given two minutes for roughing at 14:36 of the final period. While stretching between the face-off circles during a TV timeout, Thomas found himself victim of a stick to the back of the helmet courtesy of Sean Avery.

Thomas, convinced it was no accident, raced after the innocent-faced Avery, but when he could find no resolve he instead went after nearby Fredrik Sjostrom as the rest of the B’s entered the off-air scuffle.

“It’s an unwritten rule that basically nothing happens during a TV timeout,” Thomas said after the game. “I’m stretching there, and Avery comes by, and I get hit in the head with a stick. You look up, you see who it is, and you’re like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’”

Avery, who instigated the so-called “Sean Avery Rule” after taunting New Jersey goaltender Martin Brodeur during last year’s Stanley Cup playoffs, appeared to have no idea he even hit the Boston netminder – but Thomas was not buying it.

“You look up, and he’s like…’Yeah, sure, I did it on accident,’” Thomas said. “The battling during the game and stuff, I have no problem with that. I actually like the way he plays around the net: He’s tenacious, he gets in right around the crease, but he’s not actually doing anything illegal.

“I have no problem with that, but there’s lines that you can cross, and he seems to have a hard time figuring out what those lines are.”

Forward Patrice Bergeron, who entered the scuffle with little idea as to what prompted it, said Thomas is not the type of goaltender players should try to mess with.

“That’s Timmy,” Bergeron said of his teammate’s gusto. “It’s always been his character; that’s why he’s here, that’s why he’s playing so great. He’s faced so much adversity in his career, so I don’t think he’s going to take anything from anyone – even Avery.”

And the Winner is…
Before this afternoon’s puck drop, six awards were presented to five different Bruins for solid workmanship and teamwork, both on and off the ice.

As the season’s no. 1 star, Marc Savard brought home one of the Bruins Three Stars Awards for his top performance at home games in 2008-09. Zdeno Chara took the no. 2 spot with the recently re-signed Tim Thomas coming in with the third slot.

Savard was also awarded the Elizabeth Dufresne Trophy, voted on by the New England Professional Hockey Writers Association, for the numbers he posted during home games. He has had 12 multi-point home games this season and contributed 14-31-45 totals in 39 games. He tops the Bruins roster with 24-58-82 totals and has played in all 77 games this season. Savard has now won the award two times; the first was in the 2006-07 season.

Milan Lucic was awarded the Eddie Shore Award for his “exceptional hustle and determination.” The B’s defenseman has registered 114 penalty minutes this season, including 10 fighting majors, and is currently sixth in the league for hits (249). He has reached career highs in all three scoring categories, making his totals 17-24-41 in 67 games this season.

The John P. Bucyk Award is given to the player who has made the greatest off-ice charitable contribution, so it was no surprise when Aaron Ward, who works with “Cuts for a Cause,” “Seats for Soildiers,” “Toys for Tots,” and the “Turkey Drive,” was called out to receive his trophy.

Everyone’s a Winner
Today’s game also featured “awards,” so to speak, for the biggest supporters of the Bruins organization: the fan.

“Fan Appreciation Day” looked to give fans a little pat on the back, and a shirt off of the backs of the players as they said thanks for continued support throughout the season.

During the game, prizes were handed out to fans in selected “winning” seats, and immediately afterward the Bruins remained on the ice to throw T-shirts to lucky fans.  They also handed out game-worn, autographed jerseys – the “Shirts Off Their Backs” – to the 24 fans chosen at random in an on-ice meet-and-greet ceremony.

First Time’s a Charm
The Boston Bruins did not have a shot on goal for nearly 10 minutes into today’s game against the New York Rangers And when they found the net, they found it but good.

Blake Wheeler ripped what can only be described as a monstrous shot from the far point to put one past Rangers goaltender Henry Lundqvist with 10:56 remaining in the first period. The shot, which was passed back by P.J. Axelsson, was the left winger’s 21st of the season.

The 1-0 win gave the Bruins the one point they needed to clinch the conference title, officially making them no. 1 in the East.

The win also puts them (you guessed it) within one point of the West’s San Jose bring them back to the league’s top spot and a shot at the coveted Presidents’ Cup for the NHL’s best overall regular season record.
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