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.”