By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
Tim Thomas was glad to get that last one in.
After feeling like a stranger in a strange hockey land in his first exhibition game against the Islanders after the summer layoff, he faced a measly 20 shots in a preseason loss to Ottawa last week. It made the 37-year-old goalie feel better that he finished off the preseason with a 3-2 win over the Isles Saturday night.
Better than the victory, Thomas finished with 25 saves against many of the Islanders regulars including John Tavares, Mark Streit and Kyle Okposo among others and didnt allow a single goal in the final two periods. The action got hot and heavy around him for the first time, and finally made him feel like he was again stopping pucks for the Bruins.
It was a little bit easier to be busier than I was in the last two games," Thomas said. "Its tough when you go from the playoffs where youre really busy to the first couple of preseason games where youre like a goalie for the Red Wings in the early 2000s when they were dominating and seeing 20 shots or whatever. It was better to get a little bit more action.
Thomas was forced to scramble into action on several occasions with Tavares crashing in toward the net, and looked much quicker with his glove hand when Streit and Co. started bombing shots at the Boston cage from the outside. It was a marked improvement over the first couple of games, but the three appearances in preseason also allowed Thomas to charge up his batteries after an extreme workload.
Thomas played in 66 regular season games during the 2006-07 season with the Bruins and a combined 65 games (regular season and playoffs) during the 2008-09 season that registered as the highest workloads of his career. But that was before the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe Trophy and Stanley Cup all happened last year and Thomas played a combined 82 games (regular season and playoffs) while carrying his hockey club to Stanley Cup immortality.
So Thomas, as much as anybody, seems to know that selective rest during the season is going to help him be all that he can be once the postseason grind begins anew. The Bs goaltender was hesitant to proclaim himself ready for opening night even after getting into the winning feeling against the Isles last weekend but he did admit that a few practices at the beginning of this week should put him into his happy puck-stopping place.
Feeling like he was entering the regular season on a preseason winning note and playing in back-to-back games both seemed to put Thomas mind at ease that hed be ready when the real shots start firing Thursday night against the Flyers.
I think I would have been fine no matter what. But getting the winning feeling before the preseason ends certainly helps. Its a lot better than the losing feeling, Thomas said. Im right on track, but Ive still got a few days left before the season starts. Hopefully well be ready to go because I think Thursday is going to be a fun night raising the banner. Not only that but weve got a game against the Flyers too.
That will start a whole new journey.
Thomas and the Bruins have to hope this years journey has the same kind of happy ending as last years Stanley Cup story.