Tim Thomas went from being out of the playoff hunt with the Florida Panthers into the middle of a fight for a playoff spot with the Dallas Stars. And that has him excited.
“When the opportunity came up to come to Dallas, I didn’t really expect it but once I thought about it, the excitement started right away,” Thomas said. “Last night I had a little bit of time on the flight and stuff to think about. It is exciting to be with a team in this situation at this time of year.”
The Stars acquired Thomas just before the NHL’s trade deadline on Wednesday for goaltender Dan Ellis. Florida’s acquisition of Roberto Luongo from Vancouver opened the door for the Stars making the deal, but Thomas said he had been talking with the Panthers about possibly going to a team in the playoff mix.
“If anything, [the Luongo trade] might have let Dallas know that I was available,” Thomas said. “My point is I had at least discussed it with the Panthers, the scenario that I’d leave to go to a team that was in the playoffs or pushing for the playoffs. So, circumstances with Roberto did kind of push things along, but it wasn’t the total scenario I guess.”
Thomas skated with the Stars Thursday morning. There were familiar faces in the locker room, including Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley, Thomas’ teammates in Boston when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup in 2011.
“You know that makes it easier, makes it a lot better,” Thomas said. “Erik Cole, I played against him for many years, but we were roommates at one of the World Championships. I met (Ray) Whitney at a NHLPA meeting in the summertime and got to know him a little bit better. So, there’s some familiar faces in here, some I don’t know, but it seems to be a great group of guys and I’m excited to be teaming up with them.”
Peverley said Thomas’ track record speaks for itself.
“He’s won. He’s been a tremendous goalie. He’s won the Vezina Trophy twice,” Peverley said. “He’s an incredibly competitive person, and you could see it in the morning skate already. It’s going to be good for the team. It’s going to be good to have a guy like that around. I know him well and he’s a great guy, too.”
Thomas is expected to back up Kari Lehtonen when the Stars take on the Vancouver Canucks tonight at American Airlines Center. Asked how he sees his role moving forward with the Stars, Thomas said he sees it as pretty simple.
“I’m pretty sure that my role is going to be that when they play me in a game, I stop as many as I can so the team can win. Really I try to keep it as simple as that,” Thomas said. “I’ve got Kari here. I’ve partnered with Finnish goaltenders quite a few times over the course of my career and have always had great relationships with the Finns. I just really get along well with them for some reason. So I’m looking forward to helping him to play his best when he’s playing and him helping me, pushing me in practice and in games.”
Stars coach Lindy Ruff said he is confident that Thomas, who has played 40 games with Florida this season, can be into the net at any time for the Stars.
“We’re just going to look at this game-by-game and we’re going to do whatever it takes to win,” Ruff said. If we feel that he needs to go in next game, he goes in next game, but we’re going to go at this game-to-game knowing that we really believe he can be a difference maker for us.”
Peverley back in tonight
Stars forward Rich Peverley, who missed Tuesday’s game with an upper body injury, will be back in the lineup tonight. Stars coach Lindy Ruff indicated the upper body issue had to do with the irregular heartbeat that kept Peverley out of training camp and the season opener.
“It was, same thing,” Ruff said when asked if it was related to what Peverley went through earlier in the season. “He’s been monitoring it the whole year and this might have been the first or second time it’s come around, but it’s something he has to deal with and it’s something that obviously we’re aware of.”
Peverley is expected to skate on the top line with Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin tonight.
“We’re trying a lot of different things. I think we tried to loosen it up yesterday. There’s no sense of browbeating. There’s no sense of being negative. In these types of situations, it’s tough enough where it’s just not fun. We have to try to get some sort of lightness and some sort of energy in ourselves for us to even have a chance to win a game, so that’s how we’re trying to go about it.”
Canucks coach John Tortorella, whose team is 1-9-1 over the last 11 games
Who: Vancouver Canucks at Dallas Stars
Where: American Airlines Center
When: 7:30 p.m.
TV: Fox Sports Southwest
Radio: The Ticket 1310 AM/ 96.7 FM
Stars projected lineup
Jamie Benn – Tyler Seguin – Rich Peverley
Erik Cole – Cody Eakin – Alex Chiasson
Antoine Roussel – Vernon Fiddler – Ryan Garbutt
Ray Whitney – Shawn Horcoff – Valeri Nichushkin
Alex Goligoski – Trevor Daley
Jordie Benn – Brenden Dillon
Kevin Connauton – Sergei Gonchar
Canucks projected lineup
Alexandre Burrows – Henrik Sedin – Zack Kassian
Chris Higgins – Ryan Kesler – Jannik Hansen
Tom Sestito – Shawn Matthias – David Booth
Zac Dalpe – Jordan Schroeder – Darren Archibald
Dan Hamhuis – Chris Tanev
Alexander Edler – Kevin Bieksa
Jason Garrison – Ryan Stanton
This story was not subject to the approval of the National Hockey League or Dallas Stars Hockey Club. Mark Stepneski is an independent writer whose posts on DallasStars.com reflect his own opinions and do not represent official statements from the Dallas Stars. You can follow Mark on Twitter @StarsInsideEdge.