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Bruins Notebook

Offense in doubt, not Thomas

With the Bruins' offense faltering, Tim Thomas has to keep a close watch on nearly every shot. With the Bruins' offense faltering, Tim Thomas has to keep a close watch on nearly every shot. (MICHAEL DWYER/Associated Press)
Email|Print| Text size + By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / November 11, 2007

After last night's 2-1 victory over Buffalo, the last seven of Tim Thomas's starts have been one-goal decisions. Nine of his 12 total starts have been decided by one goal.

So it wasn't surprising that Thomas was a little testy.

In the first period last night, Thomas delivered whacks to Buffalo forwards on three occasions - twice to ex-Northeastern standout Michael Ryan and once to Jason Pominville - to respond to what he believed were after-the-whistle jams.

"Carryover from the last couple games," said Thomas. "I've been whacked a couple times."

But Thomas (season-high 45 saves) kept his cool when he needed to, although he was called for roughing when he went after Pominville.

"He was great," said Marco Sturm. "He's been outstanding all season long. We don't want to give up that many shots. But he was outstanding."

During this seven-game stretch of one-goal decisions (he's started eight in a row), every save has been a potential game-breaker. But Thomas, whose teammates haven't been able to give him the goal support he deserves, doesn't like to think that way.

"It's still about bearing down," Thomas said. "You're still trying to stop every single shot. But you can't think that the ultimate end goal is, 'Oh, I've got to get a shutout.' That kind of stuff will make it never happen. It's like guys on a point streak. He's at 97 and somebody points it out, sometimes they have a hard time getting to 100."

With Manny Fernandez (2-2-0, 3.93 GAA, .832 save percentage) on injured reserve (left knee strain), coach Claude Julien has leaned on Thomas to make the majority of the starts.

Ward on the mend
Aaron Ward, who missed his first game last night after suffering a concussion against Montreal, has passed two of the tests that are required for players who have sustained head injuries, and believes he can play on Thursday against Toronto.

Despite his recovery, Ward's still not happy that defenseman Francis Bouillon, who delivered the hit, was not disciplined.

"In my past dealings with the National Hockey League, I've learned to set my expectations low. They met them," said Ward. "It was a cheap hit. I've seen the video. The puck is 140 feet away. It's not even in the zone. It's inexplicable. But I'll deal with it and move on."

Yesterday morning, Ward passed what is called the exertion test. A player must first be symptom-free, then complete the exertion test. According to trainer Don DelNegro, it involves five minutes on the bike, then pushups, situps, and high steps to get the player's heart rate over 140 beats per minute, and he must be symptom-free after the test.

Young guns
With Ward, Andrew Ference (upper core), and Bobby Allen (arm) out of action last night, the Bruins turned to young defensemen Matt Hunwick and Matt Lashoff, who made their season debuts.

Hunwick, who was mostly paired with Zdeno Chara, skated 22 shifts for 15:37 of ice time, including 44 seconds on the power play and 1:31 on the penalty kill.

Lashoff played mostly with Mark Stuart on the third pairing. Lashoff played a total of 9:26, including 2:39 on the power play. Both recorded one shot.

"They had a [heck] of a game," Chara said. "It's not easy for guys like that to come up and play games. But that's the way it is and they did really well."

Thomas said perhaps the biggest challenge of playing behind Hunwick was the awkwardness of calling him by his nickname.

"The hard part was not calling him, 'Hunny," Thomas said with a laugh. "One time the ref came by and said, 'What did you just call him?' I think I might have to call him, 'Wicker.' "

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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