Thomas responds with huge save

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Thomas responds with huge save

WASHINGTON It wasnt quite the Tim Thomas save on Steve Downie from last years conference finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning, or even the post-to-post majesty that was his stop against Brian Gionta during last years Game 7 thriller against the Montreal Canadiens.

But Thomas rose to the occasion in Game 6 against the Washington Capitals at the Verizon Center in DC after he was visibly disappointed in faltering during the third period of a Game 5 loss at home. The Bs goaltender had let in a couple of soft-toss goals in that game, and that hardened into steely determination that he wouldnt go out of this years playoffs like that.

Instead he authored another trademark Thomas save that helped backbone Bostons 4-3 overtime win: this time it was Nicklas Backstrom feeding across the ice to Marcus Johansson right by the doorstep of the goal. Thomas needed to author one more Superman leaping save and he just got a piece of the shot with his stick that like it was going to be tucked right inside the left post.

It was one of 36 saves for Thomas in a game where the Capitals needed bounces, deflections or an Alex Ovechkin bullet right off a face-off if they hoped to beat him.

"I thought Thomas played a huge game," said Claud Julien. "I know he was upset yesterday after the game and just by his reaction I had no doubt in my mind he was going to come up big today. Thats the character that this individual has. When hes not happy with himself you can assure he is going to bounce back. He was up early this morning having breakfast and you could see he was prepared for this game. He did a great job for us tonight."

For a guy that teammates say was blaming himself and upset after the two goals in the third period of Game 5, the Thomas defiance in Game 6 was a reminder of how much resiliency the 37-year-old goaltender has in his possession.

Its part of what has made him great when everybody doubted him earlier in his pro career, and its what has allowed him to reach the Conn Smythe, Vezina Trophy and Stanley Cup heights that hes attained in recent years.

I pride myself on doing the best I can every night and doing the best I can to help the team, said Thomas. Our backs are against the wall and hopefully I helped them out, but they also stepped up and helped themselves out. The whole team did it.

The whole team did it, but they cant win unless Thomas is playing like the elite goaltender that he is on most nights. Game 6 was one of those nights for the Bs goaltender, and the decisive Game 7 will have to be as well if the Bruins hope to advance.

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

Blakely: Thomas isn't a starter, but new All-Star voting is an improvement

BOSTON – There’s certainly some disappointment among Celtics Nation that Isaiah Thomas just missed out on being an All-Star starter in the East.

But one thing we can certainly see with the new voting system … it works way better than the old way of choosing starters.

This was the first year that the NBA decided to allow current NBA players as well as a select panel of media choose who the starting five in the Eastern and Western Conferences would be.

The fan vote would count for 50 percent while media and players would each represent 25 percent of the final tally.

From there, the players would receive a fan ranking, a media ranking and a player ranking.

Because of the aforementioned breakdown – fans count for 50 percent while media and players represent 25 percent of the vote – the fan ranking would be counted twice while the media and player rankings would be counted once.

Let’s look at Isaiah Thomas’ situation which ultimately came down to him and Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan for the final starting spot in the backcourt.

Thomas was fourth in the fan voting, second in the player voting and first among guards in the media voting. So when you add the fan voting (4 *2) + player voting (2 *1) + media voting (1*1), you get a total of 11 which is then divided by 4 to arrive at a score of 2.75.

Now let’s look at DeRozan.

He was third in the fan voting, third in the player ranking and second in the media voting among guards. So his score when you add the fan voting (3*2) + player voting (3*1) + media voting (2*1), you get a total of 11 which when divided by 4 brings you to a score of 2.75 – same as Thomas.

The tiebreaker was the fan vote which meant DeRozan and not Thomas, would get the starting nod in next month’s All-Star game.

As much as it may suck that Thomas lost out because of this system, he would not have had a shot at being a starter under the old system in which the fans were the ones to pick starters.

In fact, it would have been Chicago’s Dwyane Wade in the starting lineup under the old system.

No disrespect to D-Wade, but he has not had an All-Star worthy season. And had the old system been in place, he would be an all-star and thus take up a roster spot of another player who frankly, is more deserving.

And if you take a glance out West, they too would have had a starter who has not had an All-Star caliber season.

Golden State’s Zaza Pachulia finished second in the voting among Western Conference forwards, fueled in large part to his home country, Georgia, voting early and often for him. Because of the media and player voting, Pachulia wound up sixth among Western Conference big men which is still too high when you consider some of the players behind him – Memphis’ Marc Gasol, Minnesota’s Karl-Anthony Towns, San Antonio’s LaMarcus Aldridge and Los Angeles Clippers’ DeAndre Jordan – who are all having better seasons.

While no one would say this new system is perfect, considering how this year’s voting would have panned out under the old rules, this change by the league is a good one that should stick around.

NOTE: I was among the media panelists selected by the NBA to vote for this year’s All-Star starters. My selections in the East were Cleveland’s LeBron James, Kevin Love and Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the frontcourt with Cleveland’s Kyrie Irving and Boston’s Isaiah Thomas in the backcourt. My Western Conference selections were Kevin Durant of Golden State, Anthony Davis of New Orleans and Kawhi Leonard of San Antonio in the frontcourt, with Houston’s James Harden and Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook in the backcourt.