Thomas responds with huge save

720260.jpg

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.

Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

djfelger524_1280x720_692237379955.jpg

Felger: Bottom's always up with Bruins

Peter Chiarelli may be long gone from Causeway Street, but his spirit lives on. 

If someone can explain to me the Bruins' fascination with bottom-of-the-roster veterans with average talent, then I'd love to hear it. I used to think it was the problem of Chiarelli, the B's former general manager. But now I have to wonder if it's just in the water down there. And current GM Don Sweeney is chugging it.

I have no other explanation for the team's decision to sign defenseman Kevan Miller to a four-year (four!) extension worth $10 million yesterday. Miller is a nice role piece. But how that translates to four guaranteed years when he will turn 29 early next season and the Bruins have massive holes throughout their roster is beyond me. 

What's more, the B's already have nearly the identical player in Adam McQuaid, who is roughly the same age, same size, same shot (right), same injury history (poor) and plays the same role (bottom pairing, right side). McQuaid is a little less skilled than Miller, so of course, using Bruins logic, he makes a little more ($2.75 million). But McQuaid also got four years when he re-signed prior to last season.

Certainly, contracts worth $2-3 million annually aren't going to ruin your cap in a vacuum. But start adding them up you see how the Bruins got into trouble in the first place. Combine McQuaid and Miller's hits and you have $5.25 million of valuable space chewed up against the cap. Basically, that's the price of a solid, top-4 defenseman, which the Bruins need ten times more than a depth piece.

Scary. The Bruins currently don't have a No. 1 or a No. 2 defensemen. (Sorry, Bruins writers, Zdeno Chara belongs on a second pairing right now.) Yet they have decided to lock themselves up with a pair of No. 6 guys who basically duplicate each other. Again, why do the B's continue to overpay the bottom of the depth chart when the top is so lousy?

It's one thing for Chiarelli to overcommit to the likes of Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Dan Paille, Greg Campbell, Dennis Seidenberg, etc. Those guys at least helped you win a Cup and get to another final. From an emotional standpoint, you can explain those mistakes. But Miller? He's been a part of one of the worst defense corps in the league the last few years. He's been on a team that has failed to make the playoffs two consecutive seasons. How do you fall in love with that guy?

Please don't tell me that Miller would have gotten that contract on the open market. I mean, it's true; he probably would have. But what does that matter? Does that mean it's a good deal? Just because Colorado was willing to pay Carl Soderberg just under $5 million a season, does that mean the B's should have paid the middling centerman that money last year? Of course not. Use your head. Just because someone else gets stupid doesn't mean you have to.

You shudder to think what's coming next. Loui Eriksson is still out there as a pending free agent. Ditto for Torey Krug. On a good team, the former is a third liner and the latter is another third-pairing guy. Neither have been good enough to lift the B's above the playoff line the last two years despite playing prominent roles. Both are about to get overpaid on the market . . . unless the B's step in first and insist on being the team that gets stupid and overcommits first.

Given what we've seen with Miller, how can anyone be confident that the B's will be smart enough to pass? My confidence level on this is somewhere around 0.0.

Which is exactly how much cap space the B's will have left with this approach.

Email Felger at mfelger@comcastsportsnet.com. Listen to Felger and Mazz weekdays, 2-6 p.m. on 98.5 FM. The simulcast runs daily on CSN. 

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

red_sox_bill_lee_052416.jpg

Bill "Spaceman" Lee is running for governor in Vermont

BURLINGTON, Vt. — A former Major League Baseball player is running for governor in Vermont as a member of the Liberty Union party, which bills itself as nonviolent and socialist.

Bill "Spaceman" Lee tells WCAX-TV voters will "need umbrellas" if he's elected, because "it's going to be raining dollars," referring to money trickling down from the wealthy.

Lee pitched for the Boston Red Sox from 1969 to 1978. He was inducted into the team's Hall of Fame in 2008.

Lee says he's a "pragmatic, conservative, forward thinker." He supports legalizing marijuana, a single-payer health care system and paid family leave.

Carrabis: Do you trust Dombrowski to find relief help?

trustdombrowski524_1280x720_692237891608.jpg

Carrabis: Do you trust Dombrowski to find relief help?

Jared Carrabis joins Sports Tonight to discuss the news that Carson Smith will undergo Tommy John surgery, and whether he has faith that Dombrowski will be able to find bullpen help.