At the start of every season, in every sport, much ado is poured into the newspapers, radio waves and Interwebs about the dreaded post-championship hangover. The post-title sickness has plagued many a team as it sets its sights on repeating.
If the Bruins manage to celebrate next summer like this past one, it’ll be because they did what many haven’t –– sip champagne from Lord Stanley’s storied Cup without feeling the ill effects the next day.
What metaphorical brew have the Spoked Ones conjured up to keep their repeat hopes hydrated? A get-up-and-go attitude to keep the team fiery and sharp?
Nah, not really. At least not according to Tim Thomas.
“When you compete as hard as we did for as long as we did under as much pressure as we did, it’s going to take you a while before you get to where you really want to up your competitive level because, I mean, this is the third day of camp. It doesn’t mean anything.”
That much was made evident Monday at the TD Garden. Coach Claude Julien wrapped up the early practice session with a 25-minute scrimmage, which ended in a 3-3 tie. The players opted to snap the tie with a sudden-death shootout. After stalling Russian rookie Alexander Khoklachev with a sprawling pokecheck, Thomas decided he’d had enough.
When Calle Ridderwall followed Khoklachev with a chance to win the scrimmage, Thomas essentially stood still in the crease, barely flinching as Ridderwall slid a fairly straightforward shot past Thomas’s skates. Thomas’s lackadaisical nature even seemed to surprise a few of his teammates.
“You can’t be in battle mode constantly,” Thomas said. “I think it’s important to take this break until we get back to the regular season.”
The idea that Thomas is channeling his inner Jackson Browne and Taking It Easy in camp this fall probably isn’t what those in the Big and Bad Bleachers might expect.
It isn’t norm for Thomas, either. A year ago, the Boston backstopper came to camp fresh off a hip surgery.
“In the year before, I had plenty time to mentally rest when I was on the bench,” Thomas said, referring to the postseason starts that went to Tuukka Rask instead of Thomas. “I had a little bit longer break, a lot longer break. And last year I was dealing with physical issues, coming off the hip surgery. I found out fairly quickly that I felt pretty good, but I didn’t know how I was going to feel coming into camp.”
This year is a very different story. Thomas is coming off a season in which he made 82 starts, a career high.
“It’s different because of how long last season lasted,” Thomas said. “I worked out this summer to prepare myself for this season again so I could get through it injury free and to be able to keep a high level through the season.
“If anything, you know, mentally, you have to get ready to do it again. But because it’s the third day of camp, you don’t have to do that yet. I think you take your mental breaks when you can get them, just like anybody in any job that they have. In the end, that’ll be the hardest thing.”
Others echoed Thomas’s feeling, pointing to a needed balance that drives closer to all-out competition as the season opener approaches.
“It’s a little bit of both,” defenseman Andrew Ference said. “Obviously, you don’t want to get into cruise control during training camp. But it is true you have to build up to the home opener, and at the end of the day, that’s exactly what you’re getting ready for.
“You can’t be too frustrated with yourself if things don’t go perfect right now, and you also can’t be too nonchalant about it as well. You find that right balance. As long as you’re building to that start of the regular season, you’re in good shape. He does make a good point, you can’t just go 100 miles per hour from here on out. You’ll just frustrate yourself.”
Julien: Chara ‘Day-to-Day’
Bruins captain Zdeno Chara left Monday’s practice and did not return after taking a cleared puck off his left knee.
Coach Claude Julien said Chara suffered a contusion where the puck and knee connected. Though Julien expects Chara will be fine, it may cost him a day or two of camp, which might include tomorrow’s Black and White scrimmage in Providence and possibly Wednesday’s exhibition contest against Ottawa.
“We’re going to evaluate as we go along,” Julien said. “It is training camp, if he needs an extra day, we’ll give him an extra day. If he’s OK tomorrow, he’ll go tomorrow.”
Hamilton making strong impression
Bruins 2011 first-round pick Dougie Hamilton has turned a few heads with his play early in camp, and earned some high praise from Julien during the coach’s press conference today.
“We did some one-on-one’s today with some backward skating, and certainly, he’s a strong backward skater,” Julien said. “He’s capable of putting on a little more muscle and a little more weight, and it certainly won’t really affect his game. He’s already a good, smooth skater. He sees the ice well. He moves the puck well.
“He has a bit of a [Nicklas] Lidstrom quality of making easy passes and seeing the ice well and making it look easy.”