By Jessica Camerato
CSNNE.com Follow @JCameratoNBA
BOSTON -- Whether or not Tim Thomass role changes this season, he looked like the Conn Smythe Trophy-winning goaltender from last season on Saturday night.
Thomass 25 saves against the Tampa Bay Lightning were crucial in the Boston Bruins 4-1 victory -- and their first win of the year.
To me, Timmy looked more like the Timmy we know, coach Claude Julien said after the game. He looked calm, he looked comfortable, and he made things look pretty easy. Even on the big saves, he was challenging well. To me, thats as close to last year as Ive seen Timmy was tonight, and he certainly played a solid game for us.
Thomas felt that way, too.
I feel similar to the way I felt at the beginning of last year, he said. I mean physically anyhow. I feel good, and its good not to be worrying about injuries.
While Tuukka Rask may get the nod soon, Thomas, 37, showed no signs of slowing down against the Lightning. His veteran experience also adds another to his presence between the pipes. When the Bruins and Lightning went scoreless in the first period in spite of 24 combined shots on goal, Thomas knew what he had to do to help his team get ahead in the game.
I realize the reality is when were getting chances and not scoring that the longer I can keep the other team off the board, the more of a chance it gives us because we just need to get that first one and theyll start rolling in, he said. But if you get down a couple while youre waiting for that first one, it gets to be pretty hard. I understand the reality, but I dont feel the pressure. Its the way I think of things.
Even when the Bruins took the lead, he knew letting up on defense was not an option. With a 2-1 lead, Thomas made an impressive save against Teddy Purcell 1:44 into the third period.
He's learned in the past that nothing is guaranteed until the buzzer sounds.
Im not thinking of one big save; Im thinking I have make some saves. Basically you never want to give the other team a sniff, he said. Weve learned our lessons over the years. I remember a game we were up by three goals with three minutes left against St. Louis and they tied it up and won in overtime. So that was quite a few years ago now, but it happened to us last year a couple times where teams came back on us. Weve got to play the full 60 minutes. Thats what we learned last year.
Following the game, Thomass teammates praised his defensive performance.
Timmy made a lot of big saves at the right time, said Brad Marchand. He seems to be great at doing that. He always gives us an opportunity to win. And when he comes up with saves like that, it build a lot of momentum and really gives us a lot of confidence that we can go out and kind of pay him and get a couple of goals and get the lead. If it wasnt for him, we might not have won that game.
Zdeno Chara echoed, Timmy had again a strong game. Especially in the third, he made that blocker save, that was big. Thats what you need, that kind of strong goaltending in crucial times of the game. So he gave us a chance.
Regardless of how many games Thomas starts this season, his teammates know what to expect from him when hes on the ice.
Hes still the same Timmy, said Chara. He competes and hes playing well.
Jessica Camerato is on Twitter at http:twitter.comJCameratoNBA