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Thomas rolls with it

Goalie is ready for more duties

WILMINGTON - Late in practice yesterday at Ristuccia Arena, with Milan Lucic, Jeremy Reich, and Shawn Thornton lurking around his net during a three-on-one drill, Tim Thomas rolled out one of his classic acrobatics routines.

Thomas dived, flopped, and practically performed cartwheels while trying to keep the puck out of the net - a familiar sight the two previous years but not as common through his six starts this season.

"We've played such good D that I don't really have to play that way," said a grinning Thomas. "But it's good to know that I still know how to do it."

Thomas might have more opportunities to strut his sometimes scrambly stuff. Manny Fernandez, who strained his left knee Tuesday when he stepped on a puck, remained off the ice yesterday and most likely will not be in uniform tonight against Buffalo.

"Just a little bit of prevention there," said coach Claude Julien. "According to what the doctors have said, another couple days of rest is what he needs."

Thomas (4-2-0, 1.34 goals-against average, .957 save percentage) is in line to start his third straight game tonight. Thomas allowed two goals on 28 shots last Saturday in a 2-1 loss to Philadelphia. He had won his three previous games.

Fernandez is considered day to day, but considering the injury (he sprained the same knee last season) and his early struggles (2-2-0, 3.93 GAA, .832 save percentage), Thomas might be getting the bulk of the starts during a nine-game stretch against Northeast Division opponents.

Last season, Thomas appeared in a career-high 21 consecutive games, the longest stretch by a Bruin since Byron Dafoe was between the pipes for 25 straight in 2000-01. Two seasons ago, Thomas saw action in 18 straight from Jan. 10 to March 1, 2006, then appeared in 17 consecutive games from March 14 to April 15.

"I've never done it before, right?" joked Thomas, when asked if he could string together consecutive starts. "We've got a lot of games coming up. I'll do my best to prepare myself to play all the games that are needed."

Help in goal

Jordan Sigalet, recalled from Providence Tuesday, took Fernandez's spot in practice. The 26-year-old Sigalet will serve as Thomas's backup tonight.

"I got a surprise call," said Sigalet. "It's always exciting to get the chance to come up. It's always unfortunate when it's due to an injury. But I'll come up, enjoy the experience, and work hard in practice."

Sigalet had appeared in one game for Providence, stopping 27 shots in a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Phantoms Oct. 20. Hotshot prospect Tuukka Rask has received the rest of the starts, with Sigalet's full understanding.

"Tuukka's a great goalie," Sigalet said. "He's their No. 1 prospect right now, so they're going to develop him. He's a great kid. He's a really talented goalie. I'm there supporting him 100 percent and taking advantage of it when I do get to play."

Sigalet went 15-5-2 with a 2.39 GAA and .915 save percentage last season in Providence. Sigalet has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, but he takes three weekly injections of a drug called Rebif, which helps decrease the frequency of relapses, and makes sure to rest when he can.

"The fact that it's been so mild the first three years is a positive outlook for me," Sigalet said.

Bergeron's recovery

According to Julien, Patrice Bergeron is suffering headaches from the Grade 3 concussion he sustained last Saturday. "I think right now it's about giving him some space and a little bit of rest," Julien said. "Hopefully in the next few days, we'll start seeing some positive signs of a guy getting better." . . . If Julien keeps his current lineup intact, Peter Schaefer will be on the third line tonight, playing with Glen Metropolit and Brandon Bochenski. Schaefer (1-4 -5) most likely will remain on the top power-play unit. "I'll pretty much play the same," Schaefer said. "I'll probably take more shots." . . . Red Sox owner John Henry and chairman Tom Werner will participate in tonight's ceremonial puck drop. They will bring the World Series trophy.

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