Tim Thomas, expected to start in net tonight for the Bruins, was among only 12 Black-and-Golders who took the ice this morning for an optional workout at the Wachovia Center.
With a record of 22-5-5, Thomas has a shot at a 40-win season, a plateau he has never reached in the pros, be it in North America or Europe. Overseas, he set his all-time career high at 34-13-7 with Jokerit (Helsinki) in 2004-'05 (the year of the NHL lockout). On this side of the Atlantic, his best was his 30-29-4 with the Bruins in 2006-'07.
Manny Fernandez, still gaining strength and stamina after missing much of January due to a wonky back, worked long and hard at practice, remaining on the ice with Petteri Nokelainen.
The other nine skaters at the workout: Shane Hnidy, Mark Stuart, Blake Wheeler, Byron Bitz, David Krejci, Aaron Ward, Andrew Ference, Milan Lucic and Michael Ryder.
The front page of today's USA Today carried a picture across the top that showed a long line of customers making their way into a Denny's restaurant Tuesday in Saginaw, Mich., taking advantage of the eatery's free ''Grand Slam'' breakfast. A visitor to the Bruins dressing room noted to Thomas, a proud Michigander, that he identified at least three of the customers to be among Thomas's many friends.
''I think you're right about that,'' said Thomas, playing right along with the visitor's joke, ''of course, they did spend $10 in gas to get themselves a $5 breakfast.''
''And that's why they are your friends,'' noted the sarcastic wag.
''Exactly!'', said the goalie.
The only other time Milan Lucic played at the Wachovia Center, early last season, he paid the price for one of his aggressive forechecks, stumbling around the goal line and hammering face-first into the rear boards, smashing his nose across the top of the dasher.
''Oh, do I remember it,'' said the hulking left winger, wincing over the memory. ''Blood everywhere that day...and it didn't stop bleeding, either.''
In fact, said the 6-foot-4 Lucic, his nose continued to bleed for the better part of three days after the nasty collision. He opted not to have surgery for the broken nose, and noted, while manipulating it with thumb and index finger, it remains slightly out of line from the nasty collision.
''Not bad....but it's just not right,'' said Lucic.
A legendary snorer, even before he broke his nose, Lucic still rooms alone on roadtrips, while the majority of his teammates share hotel digs. But Lucic was assigned a single room less than two weeks after making the varsity, his roomates complaining that they couldn't sleep because of his thunderous rhinoblasts.
Ex-Bruin Andrew Alberts, on target to be an unrestricted free agent July 1, has enjoyed his stay on the Flyer roster and would like to extend his deal here.
''Yeah, I like everything about it here,'' said the former BC Eagle. ''I'd love to stay here. It's a great place to play. They've got a lot of money committed [in salaries] for next year, so there's no way of knowing how all that works out. But, like I say, it's a great place to play.
Matt Hunwick, hindered the last week-plus by flu-like symptoms, is expected to work out today at Wilmington under the watch of John Whitesides, the club's strength and conditioning coach. Coach Claude Julien said it's possible that Hunwick will make the trip to Ottawa for the game there Thursday night...Julien hopes to see some improvement tonight on his club's power play. The Bruins have been blanked on the man-advantage (0-for-12) over the last three games. ''We went through a similar dip around the same time last year,'' recalled Julien. ''We have to move the puck around a little more.''....Mike Leggo and Brad Meier are tonight's refs, with Steve Barton and Greg Devorski working the lines.