LOS ANGELES, CA The numbers are indisputable, and the smile on Tim Thomas face is instructive.
The 37-year-old goaltender is feeling it now in a way that he wasnt over the previous couple of months, and has been perhaps the single biggest factor pushing the Bruins back into their winning ways. Thomas stopped 40 of the 42 shots that he faced in his teams 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings at the Staples Center, and played a major role in an important road win for the Black and Gold.
I still think theres some growth that we need to have with eight games left to go in the season, said Thomas. Id prefer the Bruins of a few games ago where we score a few goals early and we have that cushion of a couple goals. But the win is the most important part.
Thomas has a .946 save percentage in his last four games while putting together a 1.50 goals against average and a 3-1 record during that span of good fortune, and hes also got some nifty new equipment. Thomas ditched his old pads and stick after the horrendous trip through Pittsburgh and Florida, and showed up for his home game against the Flyers with new goalie pads colored with black and white shading.
Thomas said his old pads were starting to break down and had been so weighed down with sweat from the games in Florida that he wanted to opt for some equipment with some stiffness.
It looks like the rigid new pads are working out. Thomas has been like himself again over the last two weeks, and was at his best when the Bruins needed him in Los Angeles. He made 12 saves in the first period to match Jonathan Quick, and then Thomas kicked out a strong extended leg save on a Slava Voynov bid with a wide open net on the backdoor.
Thomas lucked out that Voynov flung the puck right back into Thomas leg pads with the while open net to shoot for, and there was certainly luck involved when Mike Richards dinged a slot shot off the left post.
The Voynov stop highlighted the Bs penalty kill efforts to shut down a Los Angeles man advantage with their best PK player, Zdeno Chara, off the ice with a high-sticking penalty.
But Thomas was more good than he was lucky while stopping 17 pucks in the third period. He also got defensive support from Chara with a kicking stop of a Kings shot headed for the back of the net in the final minutes of the third.
Sometimes you do what youve got to do with everybody getting thrown at the net, said Thomas. I was lucky to have a 6-foot-9 giant on my side.
Nearly every stop on Thomas part was a deft, acrobatic stop from a master goaltender, and belied the fact that it was the 15th straight game for the All-Star netminder.