BOSTON -- Tim Thomas was not available to the media Saturday to respond to comments from Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo, but his Boston Bruins teammates and coach were quick to defend him.
Luongo said after Game 5 that the goal allowed by Thomas in a 1-0 victory Friday night would "have been an easy save for me" because of the way he positions himself in comparison to the more aggressive Boston goaltender. The Vancouver goalie tried to soften his stance on the issue Saturday before his team boarded a plane for Boston, but Luongo also said, "I've been pumping his tires ever since the series started. I haven't heard any one nice thing he's had to say about me, so that's the way it is."
"[Thomas] is playing so well right now, and that's just how they've decided to go about things with what they're doing," Brad Marchand said. "Obviously both teams go about things in a different way, and that's one way they react to things. ... It is disappointing that he would and go say something like that, but we're just going to worry about what goes on in this room."
Added Shawn Thornton: "Whatever, man -- people go about things one way and we go about it another. It is unfortunate, because I think Timmy has been our best player definitely throughout the whole and through the playoffs. I love the way he plays. I think he's only allowed [six] goals this whole series. He's been unbelievable for us. Comments are comments -- some people make them but we choose to go the other route."
Thomas has been fantastic for the Bruins in the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. He's allowed 6 goals in the five games, and has stopped 165 of 171 shots for a sparkling .965 save percentage.
He also leads all goaltender during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a .937 save percentage and a 2.07 goals against average. The case can be made for him to be leading contender for the Conn Smythe Trophy -- whether his team wins the Cup or not.
"Let's put it this way, I don't think Timmy is going to make much of that comment," Boston coach Claude Julien said. "I think [the media] are making more out of it than Timmy will. Either way, his stats, you know, are proof itself. He's given up 6 goals in five games. The guy that made the comment, I'm not quite sure how many he let in. I think [the media] have a good idea, so I don't think he's going to lose sleep over that."
Luongo has allowed 14 goals in this series, but 12 of them came in Games 3 and 4 here at TD Garden. He is only the second goalie in League history to have a pair of 1-0 victories in the Cup Final and the first to do it in 66 years. Like Thomas, Luongo is also a finalist for the Vezina Trophy for his work during the regular season.
This is not the first time Thomas has been the focal point of comments from the Vancouver dressing room. Canucks players took issue with Thomas initiating contact outside the blue paint of the goalie crease earlier in the series.
"To be honest with you, I only find out those things through [the media]," Chris Kelly said. "I tend not to bother with those things; the mind games or whatever you want to call them. I think at this point of the year, our job as to play hockey and do it to the best of our ability. I think you have to put the other stuff aside and just focus on the task at hand.
"They are going to say what they want. All we know is that Timmy has been unbelievable for us. We wouldn't be where we are without Timmy. And that is all that matters is what we think in this locker room."
Added Julien: "To be honest with you, this series has been a lot about that, and I know [the media] are probably loving it, but we're down to the wire here and have to focus on our game and what it means, a lot more than what is being said. Everybody is entitled to their opinion. Anybody can say what they want. Right now my focus is on getting this team back in this series."
I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.
— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round