Despite being a rookie, Rask has been able to step into the starter role recently and help the B’s earn four wins on the road while Thomas, who suffered an undisclosed minor injury (and is listed as day-to-day), concentrated on healing.
“I think we are fortunate with having two goaltenders that play like number one’s and that certainly brings a lot of confidence to the team and to the organization,” said head coach Claude Julien after morning skate on Saturday.
As for tonight’s game versus the Ottawa Senators, Coach Julien hasn’t made his final decision as to who will be in net.
“[Thomas] has been getting better and been raring to get in there,” said Julien. “I think that is exciting for anyone who has been injured and hasn’t played in awhile so hopefully he will be ready to go tonight.
“I told both goaltenders to be ready for tonight and I will make my decision a little bit later here.”
However, based on the importance of the goaltender in any game, Julien knows better than to make decisions too soon – never mind trying to figure out their psyches.
“Goaltenders are pretty special,” said Julien with a chuckle. “I will leave that one to Bob [Essensa, goaltending coach].
“I don’t toy with their minds too much. I just need to know if they are ready or not.
“That is something that you will learn along the way that goaltenders are of a special breed,” he said with another chuckle.
For his part, Thomas is looking forward to his first game back, whenever that may be.
“Yeah of course,” said Thomas. “But it has made it easier the way the team’s been playing, and the way Tuukka’s been playing.
“Ask anybody who’s had an injury, you always want to get back to it, but if the team’s playing really well then it makes it easier to take your time to heal correctly.”
Thomas gave Rask good marks on his recent play.
“I thought he’s played excellent,” said Tim of the rookie. "He’s played very in control and he’s helped us through [a tough time], and he’s helped us to get into a good spot for the playoffs.”
The team has not walked away from a game without at least one point since November 16th and currently rank second, behind Ottawa, in the Northeast Division.
A win against Ottawa tonight will propel the Bruins to first in the Northeast.
No matter what Coach Julien’s final decision about tonight’s starter may be, Thomas isn’t concerned with competing against Rask for playing time once his injury is healed.
“I don’t look at it like that because we’re teammates,” he said. “Is [Red Sox pitcher] Tim Wakefield thinking when [Jonathan] Papelbon is winning ‘Oh, I got to get a win tonight.’
“[No] It’s, ’We need wins.’
“We need everybody to play well when they get the opportunity, whether it’s Tuukka [Rask] or Vladimir Sobotka or Johnny Boychuck…I’m just happy that the team’s been putting themselves in a better spot.”