BOSTON Tim Thomas has enjoyed the best regular season in the NHL's modern era of goaltending, stolen games for the Bruins during their playoff run, and journeyed deeper into the postseason than ever before.
And now, believe it or not, things are looking up.
The Canucks may have a high-powered offense, ready to strike at any time, but Thomas has owned them in his career. In three regular-season games against Vancouver, Thomas has stopped 97 out of 98 shots for a .990 save percentage. He has a perfect 3-0 record and boasts a pair of shutouts against the lineup featuring the NHLs wonder twins: Henrik and Daniel Sedin.
Thats as close to utter domination as a goaltender will ever achieve over one team, and it provides an interesting little sidelight heading into the Finals.
Thomas backstopped the Bs to a 3-1 win over the Canucks at Rogers Arena in February during their seven-game winning streak, and continued an impressive string of dominance against one of the NHLs best teams over the last five years.
As one might expect, Thomas isn't buying into any of the hype. After all, the regular-season games against the Canucks are one-shot deals during the season without the gravity of the playoffs.
The factors involved dont exactly give the proper reading on what will happen once playoff intensity and a chance at the Stanley Cup entered into the mix.
It really has no relevance," Thomas said. "Its kind of like, why did I have pretty good success against Ottawa? . . . . You know theres no rhyme or reason to it, it just happens to be the way its worked out.
There is no use dwelling on the success youve had before . . . What success you can have moving forward here over the next couple of games is whats going to be important.
Certainly, though, there's confidence in that he's enjoyed success against Vancouver and tasted victory in their building a pair of things that not every Eastern Conference netminder can say.
I havent thought about it that much, said insisted. I played against this team this year once. The other two times Ive played against Vancouver, its not even worth really comparing because they were a different team and we were a different team. I know the one game that we did win this season, it wasnt an easy game, and basically we had a one-goal lead for, you know most of the time.
I think we ended up getting a two-goal lead near the end. But it was a very tight game, so you can take a little bit of confidence that you won that one game. But it only goes so far.
Thomas might take a little confidence from the fact hes utterly confounded the Canucks during his head-turning run in Boston.
But you certainly wont hear him guaranteeing anything this time around.
Approximately 1,000 fans showed up at TD Garden Monday afternoon to cheer the Bruins as they departed via bus for their flight to Vancouver. Johnny Boychuk, David Krejci, Milan Lucic and Shawn Thornton stopped to sign autographs for fans, shake hands and take in the send off from adoring fans on their way out of Boston.
Thornton skated with the Rich PeverleyGregory CampbellDaniel Paille line during practice, and donned a gold jersey in the process. Coach Claude Julien anticipated the question about Thorntons switch in practice, and said it amounted to a few more reps for the Bs enforcer after sitting out the entire Tampa Bay Lightning series.
Well, I knew that question was going to come up and I even said it before practice, Julien said. I said, Four golds, somebody is going to ask me about it.
"They dont get the same amount of ice time those others do. And with Thornton not having played, I think it was important for them to get a regular turn at practice. I wouldnt read more into it than it was.
Peverley spent time skating with the Brad MarchandPatrice Bergeron line, and alternated reps with Mark Recchi as hes done in the last few games.
Julien said he's seen the Stanley Cup during trips to the Hockey Hall of Fame in Toronto, but never had his picture taken with it.
All I said is, the day that I even get a picture or touch it will be the day Ive earned it, said Julien. Thats been my philosophy throughout my career as a coach.