Commentary

Poise pays off for Thomas

Challenged goaltender stands tall with some help from teammates

Updated: March 27, 2010, 11:31 PM ET
By Matt Kalman | ESPNBoston.com

BOSTON -- Tim Thomas was ready for anything as he prepared Saturday to make his first start since March 15.

He knew there'd be shots coming his way, followed by some Calgary bodies.

"That's what they do," said Thomas, after he drew two goaltender interference penalties and stopped 31 shots in a 5-0 win over the Flames at TD Garden. "We actually saw that in the video before the game. That's what they do, so you're prepared for it. I'm just not going to change the way that I play. That's the worst thing you can do because they'll get goals off of it if you change the way you play. You have to put yourself in vulnerable positions sometimes and that's what kind of happened on that one play."

[+] EnlargeTim Thomas
AP Photo/Michael DwyerTim Thomas blocks a shot by Niklas Hagman in the Bruins' win over the Flames on Saturday.

In the past, Thomas has shown a propensity for retaliating when teams take liberties with him. No one can forget him allowing that goal in the Winter Classic after he cross checked Scott Hartnell. But Thomas, with some help from his teammates, stayed poised throughout the afternoon Saturday.

"My guys went after them and stuck up for me so quick I didn't need to," Thomas said.

Boston managed to avoid a coincidental penalty after the first call on Rene Bourque. Before the man-advantage ended, Zdeno Chara registered the Bruins' third goal of the day. On the second call, Johnny Boychuk was whistled for holding just before Eric Nystrom ran into Thomas. However, Boston stood up for Thomas after the whistle and avoided going a man down.

"When you see your goalie get ran a little bit, you want to take care of him," Boychuk said. "He was playing really good and you don't want to see him lose his cool because we need him back there."

With nothing to worry about but his own play, Thomas was able to bounce back from getting pulled in New Jersey in his last outing. He was tested early on and made short work of some difficult chances, including a blast by Bourque that Thomas grabbed with a glove to prove that he was ready to chase his fifth shutout of the season and finish a game he started for the first time since March 9.

"It was helpful for a couple of the longer shots, to get me into it, and then it was that one drop-pass [by Jarome Iginla to Bourque] glove save that I think really helped my confidence," Thomas said. "I felt like I had [confidence] anyways, but it reinforces that, and it definitely helped."

Thomas' rebound control was near the best it has been during his roller-coaster 2009-10 season. And he was satisfied with the way he was able to find pucks through traffic.

"I didn't want to let one of those seeing-eye pucks go through," he said.

He didn't let anything through, and once again proved that the Bruins have the best goaltending tandem in the NHL. Not many teams can produce two shutouts with two different goaltenders in the same week, but Thomas matched Tuukka Rask's accomplishment from Tuesday night in Atlanta. Those wins have helped Boston grab seventh place in the Eastern Conference.

"He played well and he played the way we know Tim can play," said head coach Claude Julien. "It just gives us so much confidence to know that you've got two goaltenders that stand tall for your team. We couldn't have asked for that type of performance at a better time."

Matt Kalman

Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. He has been on the Bruins beat since the lockout for numerous publications and has been covering the Boston sports scene for a decade.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

EDITORS' PICKS

MORE NHL HEADLINES