Thursday, October 28, 2010
Tim Thomas continues hot streak
By Joe McDonald ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- When Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was a kid, he would sometimes change into his equipment in the family's car on the way to the rink, while eating bologna sandwiches and Doritos.
Nowadays, his pregame routine and meal are quite different, but his enthusiasm is almost equal to those days when his dad would carry him piggyback from the car into the rink for a game or practice.
Thomas is playing with a youthful passion and the results have been outstanding, as he posted his second shutout of the season and finished with 20 saves to help Boston to a 2-0 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night at TD Garden.
Tim Thomas had 20 saves in his second shutout of the season Thursday night.
"Solid again," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "We can't say enough about the way he's played."
It's not that the 36-year-old netminder ever lost his excitement for the game, but now that he's healthy again (thanks to offseason hip surgery), Thomas is back at his best. His league-leading goals-against average dropped to 0.60, and his save percentage is up to .980. His win streak this season stands at 5-0-0.
"I feel good," Thomas said. "It's fun to play. The reality is we had a 2-0 lead, and I couldn't afford to give Toronto a goal because you didn't want to let them think they're in it and let them back into the game. It was easier to focus on the shutout because it was necessary for the win."
As well as Thomas is playing between the pipes, his teammates are playing just as well in front of him. The reason he saw only 20 shots against the Leafs was because his defensemen were blocking shots, especially Dennis Seidenberg, who recorded six of them.
"I feel I'm playing well," Thomas said. "The team is playing well in front of me. They're helping me out with rebounds, screens and blocking shots. Seidenberg had as many saves as I did tonight, and that's making it very helpful."
Seidenberg was doing it all Thursday night. Not only was he helping out Thomas, but he also assisted on Tyler Seguin's goal in the second period to give Boston a 2-0 lead. As satisfying as it is for a player to add his name to the score sheet in the offensive categories, Seidenberg's defensive prowess was key for Thomas.
"It's great to see him bouncing around the net," Seidenberg said of Thomas' play this season. "Hopefully he can keep it up. There's nothing better than to see a guy have success. We rally behind him."
Presently, the Bruins are 5-2-0 and playing some of their best hockey in a long time. Respectfully, the organization wanted to recognize the past and used Milt Schmidt Night as motivation against its Northeast Division rivals.
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The Bruins honored the former player, coach and general manager prior to the game, and the 92-year-old served as inspiration -- especially for Thomas, who is a student of the history of the game.
The longest winning streak by a Bruins goalie to start the season is 6-0-0 and is held by Tiny Thompson, who was one of Schmidt's teammates during the 1937-38 season.
"The best thing we could do for [Schmidt] was to get a win," Thomas said. "We were trying hard to get a good result. Just listening to the accomplishments that man has had as part of the Bruins' organization, he deserved the win tonight. We were focusing on that."
When Thomas arrived at training camp last month, he said he was motivated and focused on the upcoming season. He wanted to compete for the starting job with fellow netminder Tuukka Rask. Julien has said repeatedly the team has two No. 1 goaltenders and he will ride the hot hand.
Thomas is smoking right now.
"When you've got a goaltender playing that well, it really gives you a great chance to win hockey games," Julien said.
It might not be bologna sandwiches and Doritos these days, but whatever Thomas is eating for his pregame meals, he should stock up on it. Either way, he's having a lot of fun right now.
"Whenever you're winning, it's a totally different atmosphere than when you're losing," Thomas said. "We've started off the season probably better than we all hoped. It was certainly the way that we planned. We have a good chemistry in this locker room, and it started early in the season. Sometimes it just clicks, and that's happening for us. Now, we need to keep having the success on the ice, so we can keep building confidence."
Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.