Posted by Fluto Shinzawa, Globe Staff December 23, 2009 11:33 AM
Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice this morning following an optional skate, indicating he will start tonight against the Thrashers.
- Claude Julien on Ilya Kovalchuk (4-6--10 in the last seven games): "He's always been a good player in this league, an elite player. With his speed, his skill level, and his shot that he's well-known for, he's always a threat every game. Everywhere he goes, I'm sure teams pay special attention to that. I'm sure he's one of those guys that every time he plays a team, he sees that there's pretty close coverage on him." Look for Zdeno Chara and Dennis Wideman, the team's top pairing, and Patrice Bergeron to draw regular shifts against Kovalchuk.
- No lineup changes are expected, which means Steve Begin should line up with Marc Savard. Begin and former linemate Byron Bitz have skated with Savard, leaving Shawn Thornton as the only fourth-liner not to play with the skilled centerman. "It's like I'm sewn into the maroon jersey," Thornton said of the fourth-line practice sweater. "I don't know, he keeps talking about how good the fourth line's been. Who's the only guy who's been on that line all year?" When told of Thornton's lobbying for first-line action, Julien cracked, "His turn will come some day when he plays in a garage league."