Thomas enters 'the zone' in shutout of Habs

Thomas enters 'the zone' in shutout of Habs
November 22, 2011, 4:45 pm
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MONTREAL Over the last couple of games Tim Thomas has given a firm reminder to any absent-minded hockey followers just how good he can be.

The Bruins goaltender has backstopped the Bruins to a pair of shutouts in his last two games, and stole his first game of the season when he made 32 saves against the Canadiens in a 1-0 victory for the Bruins at the Bell Centre.

Thomas was good throughout, but at his best in the third period when he stopped 14 shots and became Bostons best penalty killer amid a flurry of Habs power-play chances. Guys named Cammalleri, Gionta and Pacioretty were buzzing around all around him, but they were no match for the flawless Bs goaltender.

We played on our heels tonight a little bit, said Claude Julien after watching his Bruins get out-shot by a 32-18 margin. But defensively we werent that bad and Tim Thomas was huge for us making big saves.

It capped off 133:04 of consecutive scoreless ice time for Thomas dating back to a week ago in the third period of a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Guess hes still got it at 37 years old, eh?

Many of us have played with him for quite a few years now, and you get into that rhythm with Thomas where hes stopping pucks and you know where he likes to see the shots from, said Andrew Ference. He looks like hes in that rhythm right now.

There werent any Superman saves with Thomas flying across the crease like a masked superhero, but the 37-year-old was tracking the puck with uncanny precision while plenty of action popped up in front of him.

Thomas was at his best when Montreal sniper Mike Cammalleri tried to find an opening in the third period with the Habs down by just a goal. Thomas stood tall when Scott Gomez attempted to throw a puck into his skates during the first of Benoit Pouliots ill-advised penalties, and he calmly kicked away a Gomez tip of a Cammalleri bomb from the right point.

In the final minute of the third period Thomas swallowed up an Erik Cole shot flipped from the middle slot off a Brian Gionta pass with Max Pacioretty crashing to the front of the net. There was a little bit of luck involved too as Thomas kicked away a bouncing puck in the final seconds with Pacioretty camped out in front of the crease, but unable to control the loose biscuit.

It was all part of Thomas master plan as there were some tough saves sprinkled into his nights work, but he wasnt going to let the Habs see him sweat under his Movember mustache mask. Thomas said after the game hes feeling as good as he has all season, and it looks like hes entering The Zone into which very few goaltenders are allowed admittance.

The Bs goaltender is still fully capable of carrying his hockey club for a stretch at 37 years old, and hes got an offense thats going to get him some ultra-comfortable nights in between the tight, one-goal games.

There were a few through screens that I made look easier than they were, but that was the impression I was trying to give off to Montreal, said Thomas. I wanted to make them feel like they werent close to scoring and it really worked out.

A couple of them ended up in my glove and there was a quick whistle where sometimes they bounce out and it gets a little scrambly. That can get the other team hungry because they feel like theyre close to scoring, but that didnt happen tonight.

With the 32-save shutout in the books, Thomas leads the NHL with three shutouts (hes tied with Jimmy Howard, Pekka Rinne and Jonathan Quick) and sits second with a 1.77 goals against average and third in the league with a .938 save percentage. He looks every bit like the goaltender that captured the Vezina Trophy, Conn Smythe and Stanley Cup for only the second time in NHL history last season, and has only the immortal Brian Elliott and Josh Harding sitting in front of him in the traditional goaltending stat categories.

Its likely that the Habs are sick of seeing this movie with Thomas shutting down a flying Montreal attack and handing the Bruins a victory when players like Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci and Brad Marchand arent up to their normal capabilities. Its the movie that played all last spring to rave reviews in Boston, and it looks there might just be a sequel in the works for Thomas and Co. in Black and Gold.