Tim Thomas comes up big in Game 6
April, 22, 2012
By Joe McDonald | ESPNBoston.com
WASHINGTON -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas normally does not take losing too well.
Barry Chin/The Boston Globe/Getty ImagesTuukka Rask suited up Sunday for the first time since March 3, but Tim Thomas didn't need any backup in Game 6.
Most pro athletes don't.
Thomas is different, though. The reigning Vezina, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup winner always talks about his job of stopping the puck, and as elementary as it sounds, Thomas has turned it into an art form.
“I pride myself on doing the best I can every night and doing the best I can to help the team," he said after Sunday's 4-3 Game 6 OT win over the Capitals. "Our backs are against the wall so I was trying to help them out. Hopefully I did, but [the rest of the team] stepped up and helped us out too -- the whole team did.”
After a Game 4 loss in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals to the Washington Capitals last Thursday, Thomas made some honest comments, saying if his teammates can produce 45 shots on opposing goaltender Braden Holtby then there should be more than only one goal.
Then in Game 5 on Saturday, Thomas took full responsibility for the 4-3 loss, saying he should have made the saves on the last two goals by the Capitals. Those comments were a bit unusual for Thomas and he responded with a 36-save performance in Boston's 4-3 overtime win.
The biggest save of the night came with 9:10 remaining in the second period. It saved the game and possibly the series for the Bruins.
With Boston holding a 2-1 lead, the Capitals had sustained pressure in the offensive zone and were using tape-to-tape passes to elude the Boston defenders. The Capitals' Marcus Johansson had a golden opportunity for a backdoor goal, but Thomas stuck out his stick and stoned him with an incredible save.
"That felt good," he said. "I mean, that let me know that I was really into the game and following the puck well. Last game, the rebound to [Mike] Knuble, I actually got a stick on it but it went in anyways. [Tonight] it felt good."
Bruins coach Claude Julien said he knew right away early Sunday morning that Thomas would respond.
"I thought he played a huge game," Julien said. "I know he's upset after [Game 5] and just by his reaction, I had no doubt in my mind he was going to come up big today because that's the character this individual has. When he's not happy with himself, you can be sure he'll bounce back. He was up early this morning, having breakfast and you could see he was prepared for this game. He did a great job for us tonight."
Everyone should know by now that it doesn't matter what Thomas says or does on or off the ice. As long as he stops the puck he'll always have the support from his teammates.
"I've never worried about Timmy," said assistant captain Patrice Bergeron. "He's a competitor and he's a battler. Everything he's been through to get here tells a lot about him. He's got character and I wasn't worried about him."