Boston, MA –
It’s no secret that B’s goaltender Tim Thomas
is off to a much stronger start this season as opposed to last, and has returned to a form that reminds many of his 2009 Vezina Trophy winning performance. However, Habs goalie Carey Price has been making similar headlines of his own this season and should the two veterans face off against each other tonight, the game could set the stage for a battle between comeback kids.
|Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, left, checks Buffalo Sabres right wing Patrick Kaleta (36) while clearing the puck during the third period of an NHL hockey game in Boston, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010.(AP Photo/Charles Krupa) |
“I mean, it’s nice to see those kinds of duels,” said head coach Claude Julien of the possible Thomas-Price matchup. “We’ve had a few of those lately, whether it’s been [Ryan] Miller-Thomas over a week ago and now you’ve got another goaltender, I should say, that is playing extremely well for his team.
“Goaltenders have off-years like other players have off-years and you know, you’ve got a player scoring 40, 50 goals, next year he doesn’t score as much, so I think goaltenders are probably entitled to have that as well.”
Coach Julien added that while everyone may be permitted to have a less than satisfactory year every now and again, what those players do upon their return is much more significant.
“What you like to see from them is how they bounce back and I think, speaking of our goaltender, I think he’s done a really good job of bouncing back and finding the game that we saw in him a couple years ago,” Julien said.
While Thomas, a 14-year pro, agrees that getting the start would, of course, make him a part of tonight’s narrative, he does not feel that he and Price should be the only focus of the contest.
“Well, you know, it is part of the story, but the overall thing is it’s team vs. team. I bet you Carey [Price] would agree that if the team doesn’t play well in front of you, it makes your job that much harder, so going into tonight with two teams that are close to the division leaders in our conference, it’s basically me and Carey are part of the story, but the way each team plays is the bigger part,” Thomas said.
Thomas explained that he and Price, currently in his fourth season with the Montreal Canadiens, do have some history together.
“We did a goalie camp in Calgary a few years ago. It was actually me, Tuukka [Rask] and Carey, so we got to know each other a little bit there,” said the Davison, Michigan native. “We went out to dinner. Then I saw him at the All-Star Game and talked to him a bit there, but hockey is a busy game and sometimes you just fall out of touch with people you’ve met.”
But have the two goalies become close enough over the years for Thomas to root for his friendly foe when they are not playing against each other?
“You want me to be honest? As a competitor in this league, I don’t root for any of the other goalies, at least if their team is in a playoff spot,” Thomas chuckled.
“But if their team’s out of the playoffs, then maybe.”--- Ashley Robbins