Tim Thomas sent out signals in the regular seasons final few weeks that he was entering the zone that helped Boston win a Stanley Cup last season.
Then the Bs goaltender went out on the ice for Game 1 against the Washington Capitals and served notice that he was in mid-playoff form with six career postseason shutout in Bostons 1-0 overtime win.
It wasnt easy for the reigning Conn Smythe trophy winner, as hed only seen seven shots in the first two periods while the Bruins were peppering rookie Braden Holtby at the other end of the ice. But Thomas was at his best in the third period when the Bruins needed him most in a scoreless duel.
Nicklas Backstrom found Alex Ovechkin open for a screaming one-timer, but Thomas did his trademark post-to-post scramble and kicked away the Russian snipers shot with the toe of his skate. It was the highest degree of difficulty save of the night for Thomas, and it came down to Thomas going through his mental Rolodex on Ovie.
It was a toe save. I know he likes that spot, generally, over there, but hes been changing it up and going to different spots. I didnt even think about Alex Ovechkin until the pass happened. I was focusing on who made the pass, the left-handed guy who made the pass, said Thomas. I was trying to get to my angle to make sure that he couldnt score. But when I did see the pass released in that direction, I very quickly realized where it was going and who it was going to. I thought Id better get over there very fast, and fortunately it hit my toe.
It was good fortune for Thomas and the Bruins in his 17-save nights worth of work, but it also served notice that the Bs goaltender is back to vintage form early on in the postseason against Washington. That was before Thomas denied Marcus Johansson in overtime, and then sent the puck back moving in other direction leading to Chris Kellys game-winning strike.
It was a perfect example of turning defense into offense, and served notice that its going to take something special to get a puck past Thomas. That kind of thing can certainly be a little demoralizing for the Capitals.
I thought Tim did a great job of staying focused and staying sharp. When he had to make those big saves, he made them -- and that was nice to see. Thats Tim. With the experience hes had over the course of his career now, those things are starting to really show, said Bruins coach Claude Julien. I thought he did a great job. It wasnt an easy task for him tonight, and the shutout, although he had 17 shots, was well deserved because he stayed focused through the whole game.
The experience is coming through for a goaltender thats going to turn 38 years old this month, and has now moved into a tie for second place all-time on the Bruins with Cecil Tiny Thompson after collecting his sixth career postseason shutout. Nobody questions the greatness or legacy of Tim Thomas, however.
Its about how much Thomas has left in the tank for another playoff run, and it appears there is still quite a bit at the start of this years postseason journey for the Bruins.