WILMINGTON, Mass. Tim Thomas is raring to go against the Montreal Canadiens.
He knows his career numbers against Montreal are among the worst he has against any team, and his body of work at the Bell Centre is less than stellar. Hes 10-14-4 with a 3.05 goals-against average and a .905 save percentage in 28 career games against the Habs.
Despite all of that, along with the hate expected to be brewing on the ice, Thomas thinks hes thoroughly ready to go against a Habs team that should bring the best out of him a scary thought for Canadiens players looking for weaknesses in the game of a goalie that set an NHL record with a .938 save percentage this season.
It gets me into the game. I generally have problems with the teams that are overly nice to me, which is kind of weird. When everybody is just playing hockey the way you need to do to get wins, it just helps me get into the game, said Thomas. It happens in most series no matter who youre playing against. At this time of year whoever the team is lined up against you, thats the team you have to go through in order to get to your goal. Thats the way were going to approach it.
Thomas, 36, admitted that he used to get too keyed up to play at the Bell Centre during playoff games against the Canadiens when he would really drink in the frenzied atmosphere around him. But he quickly realized he cant do that and also be ready to play against a team with such talented offensive playmakers as Brian Gionta, Mike Cammalleri and P.K. Subban.
We have quite a few guys that have played there in playoff atmospheres, and hopefully that works out for us, said Thomas. The Bell Centre was never disorienting or dizzying. It can be one of the most fun places to play. Its just got a lot of energy and youve got to channel it to the good.
Sometimes you have to block the energy so you remain focused and calm, and other times you can use the energy. The atmosphere can make it easier or harder. Its usually up to you. During the national anthems theres a lot of energy and its really loud. My first year there in the playoffs I was trying to really take in the atmosphere and stuff, but then when they first dropped the puck it really messed me up for the first few minutes of the game at least.
Thomas said he has indeed played in the Lake Placid rink before, as part of the ECAC tournament finals when he played goaltender for the University of Vermont. Thomas was looking forward to spending a couple of days at the former US Olympic site between Games Three and Four in Montreal.
The college Catamounts simply drove in and out of the rink when he played there.
I hadnt put to much thought into it until I was asked about it. It ought to be interesting to go to the site of 1980 Miracle on Ice, said Thomas. It looks like Ill have a little more time to walk around the town. It was the biggest influence on my life as a hockey player, by far.
Itll be a place to get away outside of Montreal. Zdeno Chara probably wont need a security guard there than he would be in Montreal. Its a lot better than being in Montreal and being a part of the circus.
Tyler Seguin isnt expected to play, at least at the start of the series, and coach Claude Julien hopes the youngster takes something from the first games or two against the Canadiens that he may be able to potentially use on the ice later in Bostons playoff run.
This is a chance for him to grow no matter how he plays or how much he doesnt play, said Seguin. There is something to be learned while being a part of a team in the playoffs.