The Bruins ended the first half of their season on a down note, dropping a 5-3 decision to the Capitals — the day after Tim Thomas’ controversial decision to skip the White House ceremony honoring the 2011 Stanley Cup title.
The Bruins would love to have the same problem to contend with next year — regardless of who invites them to the Rose Garden. With 64 points, the Bruins are second in the Eastern Conference and tied for third overall in the league. Here’s three things to keep in mind in the second half of the season:
Thomas’ White House snub stirred passions and generated hot debate this week. It also masked an uncomfortable truth about the 37-year-old goaltender: The ceremony was just the latest thing Thomas missed in January.
After standing on his head the first three months of the season, Thomas has looked rather pedestrian leading up to the All-Star break this weekend, allowing at least four goals in the last eight games, after not allowing more than three in any of his first 23 games.
Keeping Thomas fresh for the postseason has always been the goal for this Bruins squad. Getting him back on his game is of equal importance.
The Bruins avoided any serious absences from their key players in the first half, instead dealing mostly with suspensions to the likes of Brad Marchand and Andrew Ference and minor injuries to David Krejci, Rich Peverley and now Nathan Horton, who gets five days during the break to recover from a concussion.
Only the loss of Marchand seemed to have any tangible effect on team play, as the emergence of Tyler Seguin and Benoit Pouliot has given the Bruins quality depth.
The Bruins were the hottest team in hockey in November and December. But their play leading into the break has been spotty, much to the consternation of head coach Claude Julien, who has been verbally stoking the fire for two weeks.