This injury to Rask may prove the best thing to happen to the Bruins in a while.

Tim Thomas is now in a battle to regain the confidence of the team in front of him. His numbers have certainly fallen off from last year, but the defense in front of him hasn’t been quite as good. He’s also on pace for more shutouts than he had last season.

What convinces me we’ll see the best of Thomas is:
1) His and his teams backs are against the wall, as they were two years ago down the stretch with Savard out, Bergeron out, and Chara hobbled.

2) Right now Thomas is rested and has been away from the NHL and all expectations for almost three weeks. He’s also fully healthy.

3) Thomas is now focused on the NHL with the Olympics out of the way, and the tons of marketing that was done in the off and preseasons.

4) He’s the last guard at the gate and is not the type to abandon his post. Behind him are Matt Dalton who’s sporting AHL numbers that would get him lynched if he put them up in Boston, and Dany Sabourin whp was Marc Andre Fluery’s backup even when that worthy gent was bad.

If Thomas pulls his game back to Vezina quality going into the playoffs the Bruins have to be pleased as a whole need to be really pleased. If he plays well this spring and summer and manages to steal even a single round against either New Jersey or Washington with the lackluster offensive performance of the skaters in front of him he gets a bit more say in where he spends next year, be it hear in Boston or one of the numerous destinations a goalie of his peak quality would draw offers from.

The Bruins moves probably have most scratching their heads. The defense hasn’t really been a problem this year or last. That said, the Bruins haven’t drafted much in the way of defensemen in the last two or three drafts. And today and yesterday addressed some of that lack of depth by picking up three prospects who they obviously like. Having been at rookie camp this past summer, and having watched the talk at camp this fall, I noticed a lot of talk about anything but young defensemen.  The only guys who get any talk were Yuri Alexanderov, Matt Hunwick and perhaps one or two more.  Those who watched the Bruins signings over the summer and early fall noticed several career AHL defensemen signed to fill out the roster in Providence.

As it stands now, the highest draft pick of the defensemen in Providence is Tommy Cross. He’s had two knee surgeries in the last two years.  After that is Alexanderov who is playing in Russia, and like other Europeans, getting them over even if they profess to wanting to play in the NHL.  So Chiarelli saying during his post deadline press conference that he likes Bartkowski a lot is indicative of his overall mindset. Chiarelli also stated that of all the guys available, that none would provide more than an incremental improvement over the guys on the ice now. Chiarelli went on to say that it was expected that Seidenberg or The Good Dennis, will be playing with Chara, a yet further indication of how far Widemans stock has fallen.

Former Bruins moved around:

Andrew Alberts will be skating with Real American Hero Ryan Kesler in Vancouver at the price of a third round pick.

Aaron Ward is now a member of the Ducks for what may be a steal.

Stephane Yelle is back in Colorado, the franchise he spent the first seven years of his career with.

Milan Jurchina is once again a Washington Capital, I wonder if he can get his old home back?

More on the rest of the league and the day as a whole next.

I’m a firm believer that some players are only as good as their ability to tolerate the market they are in, and the support they are getting from the bodies around them.

That said, an interesting trade that might spark the reemergence of two talented 30 goal scorers would be between Boston and St Louis.

I personally don’t think that Michael Ryder is able to stand the scrutiny in a top tier hockey market like Montreal or Boston. I think in a place where the fourth line guys are as well known to the fans as the second line guys in major markets. Brad Boyes has played in Boston, has his two former linemates still on the team in Patrice Bergeron and Marco Sturm, and has just short of died this season for all the relevance he’s had on the ice.  Their cap hits are about the same, although there are two more years on Boyes deal and just one on Ryders.

Derek Morris has been traded to Phoenix. Bruins dump the remainder of his $3.3 million cap hit, and pick up a 4th round pick for 20

Bruins have been linked to Ray Whitney, Joe Corvo, and others this morning. The Tim Thomas rumors have surfaced again.

Derek Morris was second for scoring in defensemen in scoring on the Bruins despite spending 1:46 less per game than Dennis Wideman.

This one has me scratching my head since the Bruins have been searching for a puck moving defenseman since Chiarelli rolled into town, and then they go and trade one.  Possibly this is for a move on defense, or to create room for a scoring winger.

Wow, two and a half reasonable to good periods followed by ten minutes of beer league play. The final ten minutes held not one twentieth of the quality of play of the first fifty minutes.

Ference who I generally defend looked particularly out of place. He cleanly lost his man twice. Hunwick who seems only to reflect the quality of play of his partner was little better. Rask just lost the puck on two of the goals in the third after making a dazzling glove save earlier in the game. All night though the Begin line was severely subpar at best and atrocious the rest of the night.

Old friend Glen Metropolit was again a Bruins killer potting one goal and setting up another.

I nearly got to be in the middle of a fight between two guys each with a Napolean complex early in the third as a mid twenties Bruins fan and a mid fifties Habs fan exchanged threats and insults for about five minutes.

Stuart looked decent all night, with less rust to show than oe might expect.

Having lost this game the Bruins have twenty-one games to achieve the ninety three to ninety five points they will probably need to get into the playoffs.

As pointed out earlier, the Bruins moves today are useful for next season since it will provide a bit more depth on the blueline. It also clears a superfluous forward from the organization.

The Habs started the period on a carryover power play and did little with it. Over all the Bruins played better in the second than in the first (a rarity this season) and helped themselves out by keeping the puck in the offensive zone more and outshooting their opponents on the period.

Sobotka had a good period with a couple nice defensive plays, a scrum along the net and a quality shot on net from the slot.

The Garden is still packed and unlike in certain arenas it should be noted that the fans here stood, sang and cheered both anthems.

After the first period its one zip Bruins. Marco Sturm reached around Carey Price and tucked home a puck that was snoozing in the blue paint after Marc Savard tore it off the boards, and dished it to Zdeno Chara who tossed the puck on net from the blueline through traffic.

Over all an ok period for the Bruins.

They got the power play working again. With Ryder, Ference, Chara, Sturm and Savard on the scoring unit.

They kept most of Montreals shots from the outside.

Several sloppy breakouts.

They got penned into their own zone for several long stretches.

It should be noted:
That a Habs ‘fan’ started calling Halak’s name after the one goal allowed.

And one of the best jokes over heard was:
Q) Why did LeBlanc go to Harvard this year instead of playing in Montreal?

A) He wanted better linemates.

More after period two.

The bright among you will notice I’m live at the game. For the curious look in section 15.

For those living under a rock the Bruins have made two trades so far today.

Matt Marquart (F) was shipped off for a defenseman. And a conditional 4th round pick was promised for 2007 4th round pick and Michigan player Kampfer.

With the (tentative) addition of Kampfer and Cody Wild, the Bruins make a much needed step towards addressing the organizations lack of depth on the blueline.

Price and Rask led their squads on to the ice.

As always there are a lkot of red jerseys, surprisingly there are even respectable ones like Richard and Lafleur.

More later.

Damn what a game Adrian Dater @adater tweeted “That third period should be immediately sent to the Hockey Hall of Fame. Unreal. Best period I’ve seen in years.” And no one will make a saner statement about it.

Three Stars:
#3 Ryan Kesler. Mr Hustle-Muscle was everywhere he needed to be all night doing the job he was brought to do. Great in all three zones and chased down a Canadian player to pot an ENG at the end. He just put himself on the map as the third forward to know in Vancouver.

#2 Ryan Miller. Wayne Gretzky and Bobby Orr never really had the chance to pass the torch while they played, I think its fair to say that Martin Brodeur will look back at today and realize he did pass his torch. Miller out played him with the puck, in the crease and out of the crease. Forty two saves and cooler than a the ice flows in Thunder Bay.

#1 Brian Rafalski. The best two way defenseman in the tournament continued to be the catalyst for the men beneath the star spangled banner, he got it done in all three zones, scoring goals, stealing pucks and never letting anyone refer to him as “the old man” without all the respect he deserves.

Best Canadian players:
Eric Staal, Drew Doughty.