Bruins expect Tim Thomas to shake off the rust


Tim Thomas didn’t end things on the best foot with the Boston Bruins, but that doesn’t mean his former teammates lost all respect for his skills. Key Bruins figures effusively praised him in the Boston Herald on Wednesday.

Tuukka Rask mentioned that the two netminders spoke sporadically during Thomas’ sabbatical in 2012-13 and seems to hold the 39-year-old in high esteem.

“I wasn’t ever saying, ‘He’s done,’ or, ‘He isn’t done.’ I always thought he’d be one of those guys who could come back if he wants to,” Rask said. “He’s doing it. Hopefully he’s going to have a good camp, feel good about his game and come back. It is a little unusual that somebody tries to do this at this late age he is. But besides that, Timmy is Timmy. He’s capable of doing many things that people don’t expect.”

Rask, 26, added that you always root for your friends and believes that Thomas’ skill hasn’t “gone anywhere.”

Defenseman Dennis Seidenberg also points out that Thomas seems especially driven when he’s being doubted (which, considering his late-blooming career and unusual style, is a frequent thing).

“If you know Timmy, he likes to prove people wrong — like you saw on his T-shirts,” Seidenberg said. “He’s really competitive. When he puts something in his mind, he can do it. I don’t see why not. A year off is long. But I’m sure he worked out hard the last few months and is ready to go.”

The Bruins might hope that he isn’t too ready to go. The two teams are neighbors in the new edition of the Atlantic Division; they’ll play each other five times in 2013-14, with Thomas and the Panthers visiting Boston on Nov. 7.

(Assuming he makes the Panthers, of course.)

Bruins ‘experimenting’ with Chara in front of the net on power play

New York Rangers v Boston Bruins - Game One

He’s big. Huge, actually. So it would seem to make sense that Boston Bruins captain Zdeno Chara would be placed in front of the opposition’s net during the power play.

At 6’9″ and 255 pounds, he not only provides a massive screen for opposing goalies, but would prove difficult – perhaps impossible at times – for defenders to try and get him out of the way.

“We’re tinkering with that,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien told the Boston Globe.

“We’re going to have a look at that. We have some guys that we feel can shoot the puck from the back-end. Z is probably one of our best guys at screening with his big body.

“We’ve known that for a long time. It was probably what we feel like we didn’t have for the back-end. It’s something we’re experimenting with.”

This isn’t some kind of miracle breakthrough, however.

You’ll recall – and as the Boston Globe’s Fluto Shinzawa reports – Chara was in front of the Leafs net, causing a screen, when Patrice Bergeron scored the game-tying goal in the third period of Game 7 in that first round series.

The Bruins went on to win the series.

Bruins coach Julien conflicted by hybrid icing

Claude Julien

With hybrid icing being tested out during preseason, some coaches are going to find the adjustment to the potential new rule a little tricky. One coach who’s not sure what to make of it is Boston Bruins bench boss Claude Julien.

Joe Haggerty of CSNNE.com hears from Julien and finds the coach dealing with “mixed feelings” on the new rule.

“For coaches, I think [the hybrid icing] is a bit of a mixed feeling. We’re very supportive of it when it comes to the safety of the players,” said Claude Julien. “I think what it does sometimes is take away some of the plays [you can make]. You’ve seen us use at time before, right from inside our blue line we’d rim the puck in and had our fore check just to get the puck in deep.”

Ah, the old “safety vs. strategy” debate. Wait, that’s actually a new one.

Dumping the puck in is nothing new when it comes to strategizing the game and the Bruins can dump-and-chase with the best of them. While Julien’s team might lose out getting to do some of what they want to do, one would have to think being able to keep players off the injured list would be worth the sacrifice.

After what’s happened to Carolina’s Joni Pikanen as well as Kurtis Foster and Taylor Fedun in recent years, getting rid of the race to beat icing isn’t so bad.

Bruins plan to line Iginla up with Krejci, Eriksson alongside Bergeron


The Boston Bruins sometimes-dominant “HuLK line” has disbanded, but their new sets should be pretty impressive in their own right.

Head coach Claude Julien answered a fan’s question on Tuesday, saying that Jarome Iginla will probably line up with David Krejci while Loui Eriksson is expected to skate with Patrice Bergeron.

One would assume that Milan Lucic would slide in with Krejci-Iginla while Brad Marchand may join Bergeron-Eriksson, although you never know. For what it’s worth, Julien said he might give Daniel Paille a more pronounced role, so things could be shaken up.

If that previous assumption is correct, it’s imperative that the hockey world come up with a good nickname for the Iginla version of Boston’s most offensive-oriented line. Here are a few early attempts: “The ILK line” and “the KILl line.” All silliness aside, it’s not outrageous to expect Iginla, 36, to transition smoothly into Nathan Horton’s vacated role.

Eriksson, 28, makes a lot of sense with Bergeron, too. The Swedish winger is noted for his two-way play, as Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli noted, so he could be a great compliment for the Selke-caliber pivot.

It’s important to remember that line combinations can change by the day in certain systems, but one can see the logic behind Julien’s initial plan.

Habs invite former Bruins first-rounder Lashoff to camp

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The Montreal Canadiens are bringing an extra defenseman to training camp this week and, if he doesn’t crack the blueline, could contribute to the city’s thriving music scene.

Matt Lashoff — Boston’s first-round pick at the 2005 NHL Entry Draft — has been invited to Habs camp on a PTO, the club announced on Monday.

Lashoff, 26, spent last season playing for the ZSC Lions of the Swiss league.

A former OHL Kitchener standout, Lashoff spent four years with the B’s organization before being flipped to Tampa in 2009 as part of the Mark Recchi trade. After a brief stint with the Bolts, he was flipped to Toronto in 2010 and 11 games for the Leafs, spending the majority of his time with the AHL Marlies.

Montreal will have 16 defensemen at camp and are loaded with NHL contracts (projected top eight: P.K. Subban, Andrei Markov, Josh Gorges, Douglas Murray, Francis Bouillon, Raphael Diaz, David Drewiske, Jarred Tinordi).

The club is bringing in extras to fill the gap left by the injured Alexei Emelin but, even with that opportunity open, Lashoff will still be in tough to make the team.

But that’s probably OK. In addition to hockey, Lashoff is a budding musician who released his first album, “Living On Heart,” in early 2011.

No word if he passed along his demo tape to Starla at KZOG 530.