Always one to draw a large crowd in the Bruins locker room, goalie Tim Thomas spoke to a large national media contingent yesterday afternoon via conference call. The affable goalie spoke about his goaltending style and playing possibly the most unique position in all of hockey.
The B’s netminder has garnered comparisons to Dominic Hasek for his seemingly unconventional acrobatics in net. Thomas praised the veteran NHL goalie for his good hand-eye coordination and ability to anticipate the shot.
As for his own style, “I’d have to say it actually leans towards the butterfly style,” said Thomas. “But even my style, it’s constantly evolving, depending on the situation, where I’m getting scored on recently.
“And I just try to be kind of unpredictable. I think that’s necessary. If you become predictable in this game, especially at this level, somebody is going to figure it out.”
Every goaltender, Thomas said, has to “use their strength” and find a style that’s best for them, “not just totally rely on technique.
“I see young goalies nowadays at some hockey schools, and they’re being taught totally the butterfly technique only,” he said. “That might work for the kids that end up being 6’2, but what about the kid whose full height only ends up being 5’8 or 5’9?
“If they don’t learn to play a different style, they aren’t going to be successful at the higher levels.”
Thomas said his personal style hasn’t changed from last season, crediting any noticeable changes to the B’s stellar defense.
“I think a lot of it is just team-related,” he said. “We are playing better defense, and you don’t have to make as many strong saves.”
The in-net rotation of Thomas and Manny Fernandez during the first half of the season has also helped. With the two netminders splitting net time fairly evenly before Fernandez was injured for about a month, Thomas has felt much less worn down.
“I’ve played a lot of games over the past three years, and…I definitely believe it helps keep you fresher,” he said. “Most goalies want to play a lot, and I do, too, don’t get me wrong, but having said that, I respect the coach’s decision and the playing time this year, because it has paid off.
“It feels like, you know, a December, just because of the lack of wear and tear.”
Playing a near-full season, and then being expected to perform well in the playoffs, just isn’t possible in today’s NHL, said Thomas.
“Each game takes more energy than it used to, compared to the old NHL, just because of the style of play,” he said. “I think the days of goalies playing 70 games should be over.”
As far as his own NHL career goes, Thomas is hoping to keep it going for a while.
“I plan on playing as long as I possibly can,” he said. “I love the game.”
In fact, for being one of the older goalies in the league, Thomas feels like a youngster.
“I don’t know what a 34-year old is supposed to feel like, but I don’t feel 34, if it’s supposed to feel bad,” he said. “I feel pretty much the same way I did when I was 27.”