BOSTON — Former Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, the two-time Vezina Trophy winner who returned from self-imposed exile at the age of 39 to sign a one-year contract with the Panthers, is scheduled to be in goal tonight when Florida hosts Boston, according to a Tweet from the Panthers Wednesday.
Thomas, who twinged a groin muscle 10 days ago against Philadelphia, returned to practice Monday but did not travel with the Panthers for a game Tuesday at Nashville. Reportedly, he looked fine in practice and could play tomorrow night against the B’s.
Thomas’ contract includes a $2.5 million base plus up to $1.25 million in bonuses. He has had a rough start to the season, with a 1-2-0 record, 5.05 goals-against average and .850 save percentage.
“I haven’t gotten the report on him, but he’s fine out there in practice,” Florida coach Kevin Dineen said. “His first skate with the group in a week, he looked fine. I’m sure that the report on him (will be) that he is making good progress. Another skate (today) and I’ll make a decision on what we’re going to do against his old team (tomorrow).”Meanwhile, general manager Peter Chiarelli didn’t look too happy Monday as he exited the Garden following the Bruins’ 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings. But he is not overly worried about where his rebuilt team is two weeks into the season.
“I’m OK,” Chiarelli said. “Five games in and were 3-2. We’re squeezing our sticks a little bit. (Monday), defensively on those three (Red Wings) goals I didn’t really like our mid-ice fight in the defensive zone. But it’s a work in progress.”
A good B’s effort went to waste against the Red Wings, who had few quality scoring chances but took advantage of just enough mistakes to earn the two points. Clearly, there are things to like about this Bruins team, but there’s also plenty of room for improvement.
“I thought we actually played a hard game,” Chiarelli said. “Defensively we’ve got new bodies on three lines; you can see some of that filter into the play defensively. But I’ve liked the effort. The result could have been better, but I’ve liked the effort.”
The Bruins, who had a pre-scheduled day off Tuesday despite their flawed showing a day earlier, have scored just 12 goals in five games. Few if any of the key offensive players have found any sort of groove.
“Again, I think we’re squeezing our sticks,” Chiarelli said. “If you look at our shots and chances, maybe not Saturday (in Columbus), and (Monday), the Tampa (Bay) game, the Colorado game, we’re getting a lot of chances. Our scoring will come. On the power play, we had a lot of control and good (puck) movement. We just have to finish. (Against Detroit), when you’re 0-for-4 (on the power play), with a long 5-on-3 and you don’t score, you don’t feel great about it. But we are getting a lot of good looks. We’re missing the net a lot. We’re not making the plays we should be making.
“But I like the personnel and I like the puck movement. I like the spread (setup) and I like (defenseman Zdeno) Chara in front of the net. That and everything else on the offensive side will come when we start hitting the net in the right spots.”
Patience with Iginla
A spotlight has been understandably focused on new first-line right winger Jarome Iginla, who has been held without a goal and contributed just one assist. Iginla leads the B’s with 19 shots and fired off seven more that missed the net. Chiarelli isn’t too concerned.
“He’s done everything we’ve asked except score,” Chiarelli said. “He will score. He’s squeezing the stick a little bit. But he’s having good looks and firing a lot of pucks. He’ll come around. He’s always scored over the years. He’ll score.”
A mini-slump is nothing new for the 16-year NHL veteran with 530 career goals.
“Unfortunately I’ve been here many times,” Iginla said. “It’s all part of the game, and you just try to work hard and keep going and keep getting the chances and always keep saying that the next one is going to go in. Krech (David Krejci) and Looch (Milan Lucic) have been playing great and working hard and I’m trying to work hard with them. And like I’ve said, I’ve had really good chances for a number of games.”
“Whenever you win, you never feel as bad; you just shrug it off and say, ‘Next time.’ But whenever you lose by a goal it always feels a lot worse when you know that one of those could have made a difference. But (you) keep going, and like I said, I’ve been here before and you just keep working through it and stay positive and keep trying to get open. Keep believing the next one goes in.”
The B’s will charter this morning to Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and practice this afternoon in Sunrise, where they will face the Florida Panthers tomorrow night. Then it’s on to Tampa to face the Lightning on Saturday.