Rask/By S. Bradley

WILMINGTON, Mass. — Before more than a dozen Bruins players took the Ristuccia Arena ice this morning for the first captains’ practice of the 2010-11 season, goaltending coach Bob Essensa had his pupils on the ice for some work along with some rookie shooters.

Among the group of netminders was veteran Tim Thomas, who is working his way back from offseason hip surgery.

“Today was his first day actually taking some shots in a long while,” Essensa said about Thomas. “To me, he looked fine. He told me he felt fine. As long as we keep him healthy and keep him progressing, it’ll just be up to [head coach] Claude [Julien] and the coaching staff how many games he gets in.”

Thomas will want to get as much playing time as possible during the preseason because that’s the only way he’ll be able to close the gap in the competition with incumbent No. 1 Tuukka Rask. By the same token, Thomas’ presence on Boston’s roster, after an offseason filled with trade rumors, should keep the Finnish phenom from resting on his rookie-year laurels.

“When I watch our guys, I see what areas that teams are trying to exploit and try to address them on a game-to-game basis. For Tuukka, just keeping his thing in perspective, he still has to get a little bit stronger. I’d still like to see him at about 190 pounds, all muscle,” said Essensa with a bit of a snicker. “Over the course of the long season we can constantly improve on certain things other teams are seeing.”