Hockey Night In Canada Stanley Cup Playoffs 2011

Thomas not taking anything for granted

Categories: Boston Bruins, VAN vs. BOS, Vancouver Canucks

Story Tools

Boston goalie Tim Thomas, left, has won 9-of-10 playoff games when he’s faced 35 or more shots and he could set records for the most shots saved and faced in this post-season.  (Winslow Townson/Associated Press) Boston goalie Tim Thomas, left, has won 9-of-10 playoff games when he’s faced 35 or more shots and he could set records for the most shots saved and faced in this post-season. (Winslow Townson/Associated Press)
By Tim Wharnsby, CBC Sports

VANCOUVER -- Outstanding Bruins goalie Tim Thomas knows from experience that he can lose his groove just as easily as he comes across it.

As a reminder, all he had to do was peer down at the other end of the rink and watch another fellow Vezina Trophy candidate lose his prowess in Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

After a strong finish to the second-round series against the Nashville Predators, a stingy effort in the West final against the San Jose Sharks, and a keen start to the Stanley Cup Final, Roberto Luongo is searching for his game right now. He has yielded 12 goals on 58 shots in back-to-back losses at TD Garden to enable the Bruins to tie the series 2-2.

Does Thomas have any sympathy for his struggling counterpart?

"Somewhat actually because I've been there and I probably will be there again," he replied.

Thomas entered the championship final after an ordinary third-round effort against the Tampa Bay Lightning, in which he allowed four or more goals in four of the seven games. But he recovered in time for a 24-save shutout in Game 7 and has gone on to block 141 of 146 shots in the final for a .966 save percentage.

Still, there are no guarantees he will continue this impressive display in Game 5 at Rogers Arena on Friday.

"It helps if you're coming off a good game, but it doesn't necessarily mean you will carry it over to the next game," Thomas said.

The Bruins are counting on their MVP to continue his acrobatic and aggressive ways. They simply play like a more confident club when their 37-year-old master between the pipes frustrates the opposition.

"He makes life easier for everyone," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "When he is as hot as he has been as of late, more times than not you're going to have success.

"He's been standing on top of his head, but we've only evened up the series. Nothing has been accomplished. So we're going to have to continue for him to be that good if we're going to have that success."

It seems the busier Thomas has been, the better he performs. He's won 9-of-10 playoff games when he's faced 35 or more shots and he could set records for the most shots saved and faced in this post-season.

"I don't think it matters," said Thomas, when asked if he prefers a lot of action. "I don't approach the game hoping for a lot of shots or a lot early. I approach the game as it develops."

Here is a look at how Thomas' playoff run stacks up:

Most saves, one playoff season


761 -- Kirk McLean, Vancouver, 1994
701 -- Tim Thomas, Boston, 2011
698 -- Ron Hextall, Philadelphia, 1987

Most shots faced, one playoff season

820 -- Kirk McLean, Vancouver, 1994
769 -- Ron Hextall, Philadelphia, 1987
749 -- Tim Thomas, Boston, 2011

Belting Bruins


The stats through four games show that the Bruins have a slim 129-128 margin in the hit department. But it does appear that the Canucks wore down physically in the two games in Boston.

"They're a highly skilled team," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "They need to play with that level. We're probably more of a physical team that has to bring that game. We're built a little differently. It's about bringing your game to the table.

"I think our guys have done a great job in the last couple of games especially, making sure they finish their checks, then they stay involved in the play. We've done a good job of that."

Marchand regrets taunt


Speedy Boston forward Brad Marchand apologized for his golf-swing taunt to the Toronto Maple Leaf bench late in the regular season, and now he's not pleased with himself for skating by the Canucks bench and wiping his hands.

Marchand's latest taunt came late in the Bruins' 4-0 win in Game 4. He picked up six minutes in penalties when he dipped down to avoid a hit from Vancouver's Daniel Sedin, who crashed into the boards.

"That's something I should not have done," Marchand said. "It was a little bit childish. They were yelling at me from the bench and that's how I reacted. I kind of wish I didn't do it."

Home sweet home

It may have something to do with having the last change for matchups or it may have something to with getting a lift from the crowd or even the ice conditions, but this is the third final in a row that the home team has won the first four games of the final.

"I think we're more of a skilled team and we want to possess the puck and be a puck-possession team," Canucks defenceman Andrew Alberts said. "So the more we have the puck, the better off we are.

"So with the fresh ice, I think there is better ice here, we can control the play more. Boston is a hot building, bad ice all game, but it's no excuse. Hopefully things are better tomorrow night."