WILMINGTON - Any sunshine in New England Tuesday was put to shame by the bright gold pads strapped around Marty Turco’s legs. Turco, who had been wearing copper pads from his Dallas days, was on the Ristuccia Arena ice to break in his new gear.
“Put on your shades,’’ Turco cracked as he entered the dressing room after practice.
Turco may get a chance soon to test his new equipment in a game. The Bruins kick off their three-game California road swing Thursday against San Jose.
Tim Thomas is coming off an 8-0 shutout over Toronto and has won his last two starts. But Thomas has appeared in 13 straight games. With San Jose and Los Angeles fighting for playoff spots and Anaheim out of the postseason picture, getting Turco his second start and Thomas a breather might be a priority for the coaching staff.
Thomas felt far more comfortable in his last two starts. But the Bruins are wary of riding him too hard in fear of slippage in the playoffs, when Tuukka Rask (abdomen/groin strain) may not be available to serve as a first-round safety net.
Turco didn’t give his bosses much confidence in his first start. On March 13, Turco allowed four goals against Tampa Bay and was replaced by Thomas.
“As much as I’d like to make an excuse for the Tampa Bay game in the beginning, I probably feel better-conditioned now,’’ Turco said. “Not much has changed. I just keep getting caught up in the speed of the game. These guys get on you. I think that’s the main thing.
“As much as I’d love to change stuff from that game and really produce, I know how good I felt. Just have to tighten up a few things.’’
Turco’s biggest challenge has been adjusting to how rapidly plays unfold in the NHL compared with Austria. A breakout suddenly becomes a two-on-one rush. Once a defenseman locks and loads a wrister, the shot is sneaking through traffic and bearing down on goal.
In each practice and morning skate, Turco has tried his best to acclimate himself to NHL tempo. Goaltending coach Bob Essensa spent most of Monday’s practice working with Turco.
“When he’s been facing the kind of shots he’s been facing now for an extra week, he just keeps getting better,’’ said coach Claude Julien. “I think that’s why he’s putting in the extra time.
“He wants to get his timing on. The timing here versus the timing where he was is not the same. You’ve got the best shooters in the world playing in this league.
“That’s something he’s willing to do. He’s got a great attitude. He’s not afraid to work. He’s not afraid to put the extra time in. That’s huge for us. We’re probably going to need him down the road here.’’
The Boston chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association nominated Johnny Boychuk for the Masterton Trophy Monday.
The Masterton is awarded annually to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey. Boychuk spent five full seasons in the AHL before getting his break with the Bruins in 2009-10.
Boychuk was originally Colorado’s second-round pick in 2002. At times, the Avalanche wanted Boychuk to play forward. There were games when he played both forward and defense. The Bruins acquired Boychuk from Colorado for Matt Hendricks on June 24, 2008.
Boychuk has been Zdeno Chara’s partner for most of this season. He has 5 goals and 10 assists in 69 games while serving as Boston’s No. 3 defenseman.
“At one point, it looked like he was going to be that minor leaguer who was going to be an All-Star there and spend most of his career in that league,’’ Julien said. “He got an opportunity with us. He took full advantage of it.’’
Phil Kessel was the last Bruin to win the Masterton, in 2007 after he beat cancer.
The Bruins traded defense prospect Yury Alexandrov to the Islanders for future considerations. Alexandrov was the team’s first of two second-round picks in the 2006 draft. Milan Lucic was the other. Alexandrov played for St. Petersburg SKA and Omsk Avangard of the KHL this season after playing for Providence in 2010-11. The 23-year-old defenseman had fallen on the club’s depth chart and did not figure in the organization’s plans.
Alexandrov becomes the third fringe prospect to head to Long Island. On Feb. 27, the Bruins traded Yannick Riendeau and Marc Cantin to the Islanders for Brian Rolston and Mike Mottau.
Rich Peverley (knee sprain) will travel to California along with his teammates. Peverley has been skating since last Wednesday but has yet to participate in a full-contact practice. Presuming he takes some bumps and responds well, he could see action this weekend against Los Angeles or Anaheim . . . Joe Corvo should be a healthy scratch against San Jose for the third straight game. Greg Zanon has been solid alongside Adam McQuaid on the third defense pairing. “When it comes time to battle in the corners, he’s a pretty sturdy individual,’’ Julien said. “His battle level is good. His awareness on the ice is good. He’s keeping his game a simple game. With Adam, I think they’ve made a pretty good pair.’’ . . . Nathan Horton (concussion) will stay in Boston. Horton continues to go through off-ice workouts. He hasn’t started skating and there is no timetable as to when he might return . . . The Bruins recalled Trent Whitfield from Providence. He will serve as the extra forward during the road trip . . . Max Sauve was reassigned to Providence.