By Matt Porter, student correspondent
Ask the Vancouver Canucks what they think of Tim Thomas
, and they might say he left them hungry. That's because last night, Thomas ate up everything he saw.
The Bruins goalie continuously stymied the Canuck offense, turning away 39 shots en route to a 2-0 blanking of the visitors.
"Watching him in the first period, I knew he was in the zone," said Bruins defenseman Jason York. "It was going to be one of those games where nothing was going to get by him."
He stopped Vancouver's Matt Cooke on a breakaway by flashing out his pads, and then he snared Cooke's rising backhand with the glove late in first period. Later in the session, from out of nowhere Thomas suddenly appeared in front of Trevor Linden, who was looking at a wide-open net just a split second before.
Thomas saved his best work for the third period, however, as he turned away chance after chance in a stanza where the Bruins were out shot 14-0.
It was the stalwart goaltender's first shutout of the season, the second of his career, but Thomas is no stranger to the land of zeroes.
In 2004-05, he set a Finnish league record with 15 shutouts -- in only 54 games. He was named the league's MVP after that season.
And Thomas, who has played in 27 out of 32 contests this season, was unquestionably the Most Valuable Bruin last night. He was named first star, but coach Dave Lewis thought the goalie's effort deserved more recognition.
"He could have been first, second and third star," said an appreciative Lewis.
The Garden fans thought so, too.
Late in the contest, after Thomas held the fort against a flurry of Vancouver attacks, fans added the goalie's name to the end of a familiar hockey cheer, sounding their approval of his efforts with a thunderous "Let's Go Thomas" chant.
Thomas admitted he heard the cheering, but the ever-smiling netminder remained modest about the crowd's response.
"We had some great fans tonight. It's gratifying, but it's a little embarrassing too," he chuckled. "It's great to get a shutout at home."
Thomas credited his defense for helping hold down the fort.
"The support was there, so I knew (Vancouver) could shoot and nothing else," said Thomas. "I was perfect tonight, but I've had harder games."
And of course, the B's defense was solid. Canuck blasts caromed off Black and Gold uniforms in spades -- but whatever they didn't block, Thomas gobbled up.
Thomas was fiery, too.
In the second period, as the goalie tried to cover the puck, opposing disturbers Josh Green and Alexandre Burrows were kept poking at the Bruins goalie. Thomas responded with a slash of the goal stick and a couple of jabs with his blocker to the Vancouver forwards.
For his efforts, the goalie didn't escape any post-game ribbing from his teammates.
Although Thomas stands 5-11 and weighs 180 pounds, York said that the goalie played a lot larger than his listed frame.
"I think he had a little extra dessert last night, because he looked extra big in net tonight," he said with a laugh.
And after the game, Thomas was sitting in front of his stall in the Bruins' locker room, pads still half-on, talking to reporters.
Walking by the group, York gave Thomas some advice on how to prepare for the Bruins' next game, this Saturday against Montreal.
"You gotta eat three triple cheeseburgers tonight," he deadpanned.
Safe to say all in attendance last night would agree -- Thomas was huge.
Matt Porter is a student at Emerson College.