Washington Capitals v Boston Bruins

Bruins’ Soderberg cleared to play

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Carl Soderberg could make his season debut for the Boston Bruins on Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Soderberg has been cleared to play, after missing every game in the regular season to date due to an ankle injury suffered in the pre-season finale.

“Carl is ready to go,” Bruins head coach Claude Julien said Friday, as per the club’s website. “He’s been cleared so there’s a possibility there.

“I know it’s kind of a question if we feel that he’s going to be in tomorrow; there’s a good chance he will be. He’s been cleared so now it’s up to me to make that decision.”

Originally a St. Louis second-round draft pick in 2004, Soderberg played in a total of eight games last season for the Bruins, including a pair of appearances in the Stanley Cup Final.

Video: Panthers give up late goal as Tim Thomas faces former Bruins teammates

Boston Bruins v Florida Panthers
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Tim Thomas’ first game against his old teammates from Boston didn’t go the way the veteran goaltender may have hoped.

Thomas and the Panthers conceded the Bruins’ winning goal with 59 seconds remaining in regulation, in a 3-2 loss on home ice.

Thomas, 39, got the start against his former team, which he backstopped to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 against the Vancouver Canucks.

Reilly Smith scored the winning goal, as his backhander on a scramble in front of Thomas just trickled by the netminder and into the net.

Thomas, whose animated responses to goals against has been well-documented in the past, emphatically threw up his arms in frustration as he sat on his knees in the crease.

Flyers slump reminds Giroux of 2010 playoffs, pre-comeback versus Bruins

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We already wrote about the importance for the Philadelphia Flyers of tonight’s home game against rival Pittsburgh, but just to add to that, following are a few quotes from various key figures:

Per NHL.com, Penguins coach Dan Bylsma: “I don’t look at the Flyers’ record as an indication of the quality of opponent or what we’re going to see [Thursday] at all. They do have some injuries, but they have key players in, good players in, a special teams that is good and dangerous with what they bring. That’s what we expect from them. Especially early on in the season, when you get off to a 1-3, 1-4, whatever it is, the limelight is on you but I still think they’re a very good team and that’s what we’re focused on, not what their record is.”

Per CSN Philly, Pens captain Sidney Crosby: “You have to prepare even more for a desperate team. You don’t look at the record. You switch scenarios and they could have won five in a row. It doesn’t matter. They are going to come into this desperate. They always start well here.”

Again from CSN Philly, Flyers captain Claude Giroux: “What’s going on right now makes me think of when we played Boston in the [2010] playoffs. We were down 3-0, but we were talking to ourselves and we were like, ‘How the hell are we down 3-0? We should be up 3-0.’ We just stayed with it and came back and won the series.”

That last comment from Giroux, who has just two assists in seven games, was particularly interesting. The Flyers did play a better game Tuesday against Vancouver, but some bad luck…

…and at least one instance of poor defending…

…resulted in a 3-2 loss.

Bruins excited to face their former goalie Tim Thomas

Boston Bruins v Carolina Hurricanes
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It seemed inevitable that when Tim Thomas signed with the Florida Panthers, he’d eventually face his old team, the Boston Bruins.

On Wednesday, it was made official: Thomas, the 39-year-old puck stopper, will start for Panthers when they face the Bruins on Thursday.

The evening event, previous in doubt when Thomas was recently felled by a groin injury, is sure to bring back fond memories for both sides.

Thomas was named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 2011, when he backstopped the Bruins to their Stanley Cup championship over the Vancouver Canucks in a seven-game series.

“As a teammate he was everything you would want as far as coming to play every night, and bringing that competitive edge all the time,” Bruins forward Milan Lucic told CSNNE.com.

“I won’t say anything bad about him. I got to spend five years with him and got to see the best level that any goalie played at in those five years. That’s the most you could ask from your goaltender. He was a big part of us winning.”

For his part, Thomas will not speak to the media until after Thursday’s game.

Tim Thomas to start vs. Bruins on Thursday

Tim Thomas
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Tomorrow night’s Boston-Florida game will be a special one.

The Panthers have announced that Tim Thomas will return from a four-game absence (groin) and start on Thursday against the Bruins, the team he backstopped to the 2011 Stanley Cup.

Thomas, 39, hasn’t played since allowing two goals on five shots in just over seven minutes of action against Philadelphia last week.

He left with a groin injury, sat out the following four games (during which backup Jacob Markstrom went 1-3-0 and allowed 16 goals) but is now apparently fit enough to participate in what promises to be a compelling game.

Thomas appeared in nearly 400 regular season contests and 50 playoff games for the Bruins, emerging as one of the best netminders in franchise history.

He made four All-Star games and captured two Vezinas, a Jennings and Conn Smythe Trophy — joining Bobby Orr as the only Bruin to ever win playoff MVP.

Related: Thomas won’t talk to media ’til after Bruins-Panthers game (Updated)