Coach: Bruins have 2 No. 1 goalies

BOSTON -- At any point during the course of a season, Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien gives his standard line when asked who the team's No. 1 goaltender is.

So with the start of the 2011-12 season only days away, he's sticking to his philosophy that the Bruins have two No. 1 goalies in Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask.

Thomas won the Conn Smythe and Vezina trophies last season and led the Bruins to a Stanley Cup title last June. Due to the length of last season and the short offseason, Julien admitted during the team's annual media day on Tuesday at TD Garden that he would try to incorporate rest when possible to all his players this season, including Thomas.

"I think a lot of it is just like last year. We started off with two guys that we called No. 1 goaltenders and they're still in my mind, (both) No. 1 caliber goaltenders," Julien said. "But as you saw Timmy just took off and you have to ride the hot hand. The same thing happens this year; we've got two goaltenders that are, in my eyes, No. 1 goaltenders."

Because of his success last season, Thomas, 37, enters this season as the Bruins' top goaltender, which is a first for his career in Boston. But Julien will use the tandem as he sees fit in order to give the team the best chance to win.

"We're going to have to see as time goes on and the one thing that's pretty obvious is that with the amount of games that we played last year and where Tim is in his career, you have to think about making sure he gets the proper rest if we want to get the same performance from him," Julien said. "So Tuukka will play a bigger role. But it's not going to take anything away from the strength of our team. If anything, it'll only make it better and give us some durability."

Thomas agrees that the Bruins have a better chance of repeating as champions if both goalies have success in the upcoming season.

"There are two goalies on a team, and we don't think of ourselves in terms of No. 1 and No. 2," Thomas said. "I guess it's traditionally talked about, but in today's NHL it's different. We're just two goalies and teammates but of course both of us want to play."

Time will dictate who does.

Meanwhile, the Bruins handed out their Stanley Cup rings at a private party in downtown Boston on Tuesday night.

"It's pretty incredible," said Bruins president Cam Neely, who helped design the ring. "Winning the Cup in Vancouver was amazing, but when you actually have the ring it's pretty special."

The ring is 14-karat white gold and contains 35 custom-cut princess diamonds, 11 princess-cut diamonds and 256 round diamonds. Each ring has the player's name and jersey number on one side, and the six years the Bruins won the Cup on the other side. The inside of the band features the team's 2011 playoff slogan -- "Full 60-plus to history" -- along with the logo of each playoff opponent.

The cost of the ring was not disclosed.

"It's very beautiful, obviously, and they put a lot of thought into it," Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. "It's very generous and it's a special piece and we are all very thankful. It's a great piece of memory and jewelry."

As the party ended and players slowly began to file out, the consensus was one of awe and disbelief by the size and beauty of the bling.

"Better than what I expected, to be honest," forward Milan Lucic said. "I didn't expect anything like this. They went above and beyond my expectations. I'm obviously very thankful to receive something like this."

All of last year's players who are still with the team, plus
Michael Ryder, Mark Recchi and Shane Hnidy attended the event.

"It came out better than I thought it could be," forward Brad Marchand said.

Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.