Boston, MA --
|Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, left, makes a save on a shot by Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Phil Kessell during the first period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Thursday, March 4, 2010. Thomas, a U.S. Olympian, back from Vancouver and back from a slump that sent the reigning Vezina Trophy-winner to the bench, made 24 saves in regulation and overtime and added three more in the shootout Thursd |
As Tim Thomas
removed his goalkeeping equipment on Thursday night the veteran Bruins goalie talked about the B's 3-2 shootout and the simple relief he felt was obvious.
"I’m not going to lie, it feels really good right now. The first win I’ve had in a long time, the first win we’ve had at home in a long time, first win we’ve had at home in a shootout in a long time," he said. "So for a number of different reasons, I feel pretty good right now.
"The whole team feels good. I’ve said before, you probably feel better about yourself in a shootout [win] more than you should and worse about yourself in a shootout loss."
Thomas had every reason to feel good after the Bruins win over the Maple Leafs, with 24 saves and all three stops in the shootout, Thomas was directly responsible for the win.
"Outstanding," was Bruins head coach Claude Julien's assessment. "For a guy that hadn’t played in a month, for him to come in and do the job he did tonight, we needed him.
"There’s no doubt. He deserves a lot of credit for this win tonight."
Captain Zdeno Chara
saw the same thing.
"He probably saved four or five pretty much goal chances for them," said Chara. "He saved all those and was the main difference in the game. Obviously in the shootout he stopped all three shooters and I think that we are all happy for him that he’s on top of his game again and that’s what we like to see.
"He’s just such a fighter that you can see it in practices and in warm-ups, he plays ‘til the last puck and that’s what you want to see in your goalie and he does it every day.
"Timmy came up big," he said.
"My confidence going into it was pretty good," explained Thomas. "I felt real good in practice. There’s a couple things that happen in games that you can’t really practice.
"That put me on my heels a couple different times. For the most part, I felt real good the whole way through."
Thomas, who had been praised for his attitude and work ethic by his Olympic teammates and coaching staff, credited the Vancouver Games for helping him find his game.
"The Olympics helped a lot," said Thomas. "I came back this week in a more mentally relaxed state because of the great experience I just had with the Olympics.
"I didn’t really feel all that much pressure going into tonight’s game. I was kind of more chomping at the bit for the opportunity.
"I just wanted it to turn out with a good ending and it did."
Julien said that the team's confidence in their veteran goalie was always there.
"You know, Timmy was probably being a little hard on himself," said Julien. "And that’s fine. He had the right attitude and the right approach.
"When I talked to him the other day...I said, 'You’re a Vezina Trophy winner. You don’t go from being a great goaltender to being a bad goaltender. The whole organization here—your teammates, your coaching staff, upper management—we all believe in you. You just have to go out there and have fun playing again and doing the job that you’ve always done.'
"So it was nice to see him respond well. Tonight I felt that he knew that he played a great game."
Julien also felt that Thomas' time at the Winter Olympics helped Thomas regain form.
"I think I saw him more at ease, but I also saw him eager, wanting to play and everything else," said Julien. "Even, I talked him about that half-period he played at the Olympics.
"I saw him really calm, I saw him confident. And the goal that scored was obviously deflected and he didn’t have a chance at all, so I liked the half-period that he played. I was kind of hoping, and that’s why I wanted to get him in there early, so he could follow up and he did."
Thomas said he just tried to stay prepared.
"You’ve got to be ready for everything as a goalie, anything that’s thrown your way," he said. "I didn’t go into the game thinking what the game might be like, I was just going to react to whatever happened in the game and do the best I could."