Tim Thomas, Phil Kessel

Boston could struggle keeping Thomas to 55-game plateau

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According to CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty, the Boston Bruins have a specific number in mind when it comes to Tim Thomas:

55.

That’s the maximum number of starts they want the 37-year-old goalie to have. GM Peter Chiarelli has often said 55 is the “money number” of yearly starts, with stats to prove it — Thomas won the Vezina in 2008-09 after starting 54 games and again in 2010-11 after starting 55.

Clearly, there’s an emphasis on not overworking Thomas, which explains the consternation over Tuukka Rask’s injury. Rask will be out 4-6 weeks with groin/abdomen injuries, Thomas has made 42 starts already and there are 18 games left in the regular season.

Because of this, the Bruins were forced to sign Marty Turco from the Austrian League — and are now praying Turco’s capable of carrying the load, even though he’s coming up on the one-year anniversary of his last NHL contest (Mar. 17, 2011.)

“It’s an unfortunate injury at a really bad time of the year. We hope to have Turco with us by tomorrow,” said Claude Julien. “He’ll give us the experience and the type of backup goaltender that we need here going down the stretch.”

Because Rask struggled in February, Thomas started 10 of 13 games last month — meaning Boston was already off-course in the “Timmy 55” plan. The plan was for Rask to pick up the slack in March and April, but that’s not going to happen.

Compounding matters is that Boston doesn’t technically have Turco yet. He still needs to clear waivers and, as the Boston Globe suggests, a rival team (*cough* Ottawa *cough*) could put the screws to Boston by making a claim.

Add it all up, and Boston’s in a bad spot. Simple math says Thomas should start a maximum 13 of Boston’s final 18 games, meaning Turco would get five…that’s potentially 10 points at stake the Bruins, who are only three up on Ottawa in the Northeast Division.

If you’re wondering what Bruins coach Claude Julien thinks about a possible Thomas-Turco split, stop wondering. He’s not looking that far ahead.

“I just go day-by-day,” he said. “I’ve always said that and we’ll see how things turn out. We don’t know whether Marty is going to be with us or not.”

Sam Gagner has been ‘a great story’ for the surprising Blue Jackets

ANAHEIM, CA - OCTOBER 28:  Sam Gagner #89 of the Columbus Blue Jackets celebrates his second goal of the game for a 4-0 lead over the Anaheim Ducks during the first period at Honda Center on October 28, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
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The Columbus Blue Jackets just keep on winning, remaining one of the big surprises so far this season — provided their last two performances were against the Arizona Coyotes.

We’ve seen the emergence of Zach Werenski. And Alexander Wennberg continues to impress.

But what about Sam Gagner? At 27 years old, he’s another interesting story on this early-season surprise of a team. Signed by the Blue Jackets at the beginning of August to a one-year contract worth only $650,000, Gagner is off to a very strong start with his new team.

For the Blue Jackets, they have received tremendous bang for their buck with this signing.

Gagner scored twice in Monday’s 4-1 win over the Coyotes, giving him 10 goals this season. He also had two assists. Again, this is against a young, rebuilding Arizona team, but still, Gagner has provided Columbus with additional offense, with 17 points in 23 games.

He has already eclipsed his point total from last season, basically in half the time. He had 16 points with the Flyers — in 53 games.

“He’s applied himself,” coach John Tortorella recently told FanRag Sports Network. “When I had him at center, for some reason, it wasn’t working. When we moved him to wing, things started happening for him. He seems more comfortable on the wing and he can play both sides, too.

“He’s scored some big goals for us and helps us on the power play. He knows that this is probably his last kick at the can, and it’s amazing what it does for athletes [who are] thinking ‘man, this is where I’m at right now.’ I think he has done some soul-searching and to me, right now, it’s a great story.”

He’s part of a Columbus team competing right now for top spot in the Metropolitan Division. In December.

That’s a pretty good story, too.

Potential No. 1 overall pick Nolan Patrick to miss World Juniors

KELOWNA, CANADA - OCTOBER 25: Rourke Chartier #14 of Kelowna Rockets faces off against Nolan Patrick #19 of Brandon Wheat Kings during the first period on October 25, 2014 at Prospera Place in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Marissa Baecker/Getty Images)
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Nolan Patrick will miss the upcoming World Juniors due to an injury that has kept him out of game action since mid-October.

Hockey Canada made the announcement Monday evening.

Patrick is a potential No. 1 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft. He was recently named to Canada’s selection camp, however the 18-year-old forward has only played in six games with the WHL’s Brandon Wheat Kings this season.

He has four goals and nine points, his season reduced because of this upper-body injury. Per Hockey Canada, Patrick hasn’t been medically cleared to attend the camp, so therefor he will miss the entire tournament.

Patrick has already missed the annual series last month between Canada and Russia. He also underwent sports hernia surgery in July.

Related: Pre-game reading: Some advice for Nolan Patrick

Video: Luongo denies Spooner with spectacular glove save

SUNRISE, FL - NOVEMBER 8: Goaltender Roberto Luongo #1 of the Florida Panthers skates prior to the game against the Calgary Flames at the BB&T Center on November 8, 2014 in Sunrise, Florida. The Flames defeated the Panthers 6-4. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)
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Roberto Luongo was on his game in the first period versus the Boston Bruins on Monday.

The Florida Panthers goalie was called upon to make 14 saves in the opening 20 minutes, and none better than this glove stop on Ryan Spooner.

Spooner appeared to have the wide open net on a cross-ice pass, but Luongo threw up the glove in spectacular fashion to deny the Bruins forward less than three minutes into the game.

Flyers’ Read out four weeks with reported oblique muscle pull

PHILADELPHIA, PA - APRIL 02:  Matt Read #24 of the Philadelphia Flyers takes the puck in the second period against the Ottawa Senators at the Wells Fargo Center on April 2, 2016 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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The Philadelphia Flyers have had their share of good news lately. They’ve won five in a row and goalie Steve Mason has been solid in that span, being named on Monday the NHL’s first star for the week.

But it hasn’t all been positive.

Forward Matt Read is out of the lineup for at least four weeks with an upper-body injury, the Flyers announced Monday. The injury occurred during Sunday’s game against the Nashville Predators.

It’s been reported the injury is an oblique muscle pull.

With Read out, the Flyers have recalled Taylor Leier from the American Hockey League.

Leier has been very productive in the minors. In 22 games this season with the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, he has six goals and 20 points.