After three games, two goals against and a trio of wins, Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas
has made it clear that the rumors of his demise/departure/demotion were very, very premature.
Thomas, the B's 36-year-old veteran, made 35 saves versus the streaking Capitals and backstopped the Black & Gold to their third straight victory in a 3-1 win over Washington in the District's Verizon Center.
"We did a good job of keeping them from breakaways, odd-man rushes and [having] men all alone in the slot," said Thomas, postgame.
"So, the main battle that I had was seeing through screens, and making sure tips didn't beat me and I didn't give up bad enough rebounds to get scored on.
"That leads to a little bit of the flailing, but sometimes...there's nothing you can do. They get a good tip, you've got to react. You've got to save it somehow," he said.
The difference this season is that Thomas' reactions are spot on. The goalie is displaying no-ill effects from offseason hip surgery, and only allowed one goal to the Caps, who previously enjoyed a four-game winning streak.
"There's definitely a difference in my capability," explained Thomas, pregame. "Now, it's up to me to bring that capability and do the job when I get the chance.
"But at least [now] I am physically capable."
Thomas looked more than capable in each of his three victories this season and now the B's have a good problem -- two world-class goalies and only one goal crease. But going into the game, B's head coach Claude Julien said that was pleased to have to choose between last year's go-to goalie Tuukka Rask
and Tim Thomas
, 2009's Vezina Trophy-winner.
"All I can say is that it seems to be a problem...for everybody but us," said Julien of the B's 'goalie controversy."
There's definitely a difference in my capability. Now, it's up to me to bring that capability and do the job when I get the chance. - Tim Thomas
"But I think I mentioned before that it continues to be an asset.
"What a great situation to be in!" added Julien. "You’ve got two good goaltenders and with three games this week, there’s a real good possibility you’ll see both of them."
But on Tuesday night, it was all Timmy, who before the game was joking that the Caps are possibly a team best enjoyed from the couch.
"Yeah, they are [fun to watch]," said Thomas of the highlight churning style of the Capitals. "You know, I’d prefer to watch them on TV, but...in another way, it’s a real fun challenge."
Not many goalies would say that facing Alex Ovechkin, Alexander Semin and Niklas Backstrom is fun, but Thomas certainly looked like he was having a blast on Tuesday night.
Thomas now stands 3-0-0 on the season with a .67 goals against average and a .979 save percentage. But the goalie points to his defense for a major reason why his net has stayed empty for much of the young 2010-11 season.
"We did an excellent job," said Thomas. "And you know, the times that I gave up rebounds, the D did a real good job of helping me clear them out too.
"I mean, we know they're one of the most dangerous teams in the league on the power play. But, you know, we did a good job not really letting them get set up and you know tic-tac-toeing around us as they have the potential to do if we don't play it right."
Pretty much everything Thomas has done this season has gone right. But going forward, the veteran netminder knows Rask will need to see some time soon.
"I know there's a little bit of a debate going on," said Thomas to bostonbruinsTV on Tuesday morning. "Somebody wrote an article last week saying that a team feels more comfortable with one guy, a number one, this and that.
"I don't completely buy into that," said Thomas. "Throughout hockey history, at different times, you've had some great tandems -- Johnny Bower and Terry Sawchuk.
"I mean Boston had the good tandem with Andy Moog and Reggie Lemelin.
"In today's game, each game is more energy intensive than before they changed the rules for a goalie....So there's room for both of us, is my point," added Tim. "There's work for both of us and I want to do the best that I can, so I can earn as much of that work as I can."
And right now, it looks like Tim Thomas
will be working overtime.