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BOSTON (CBS) – For the last couple weeks, people around Boston have been echoing the sentiments of that cab driver in the Capital One commercial when she says “You’re not Tim Thomas.”
After all, the Bruins goaltender has looked like anything but the two-time Vezina Trophy winner that earned a spot among Boston’s sporting elite last June by leading the Bruins to their drought-ending championship. He’s surrendered an amazing 15 goals during the Bruins’ recent four-game losing streak and had allowed 30 goals in nine March games.
Only nine months after he ascended to the top of the Hub’s list of most-beloved athletes, many around New England were imagining running Thomas over with a taxi cab.
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Just in the nick of time Saturday, the heroic Tim Thomas returned to the Bruins’ lineup and earned Boston a huge victory, 3-2, in a shootout over Philadelphia at the TD Garden. Thomas stopped 27 of 29 shots in regulation and overtime and then came up huge with a glove save on Daniel Briere to clinch the post-overtime spectacle.
Boston hadn’t lost four in a row in regulation in more than two years, and Thomas hadn’t allowed so many pucks to get behind him in such a short period of time in who knows how long. While Boston’s win over Philadelphia was the epitome of a full-team effort, it all started with Thomas once again looking like the kind of goaltender a team can ride deep into the spring and summer.
“Yeah, he was great,” said center Patrice Bergeron, who scored the game-winning goal just before Thomas’ big save on Briere. “He was sharp, I thought his glove was really quick tonight. He’s always good, but I just though tonight was noticeable. He was great. Can’t say enough about him and his character and it’s another example.”
It took the Flyers more than nine minutes to test Thomas for the first time. By then Boston already had a 1-0 lead. Over the course of the game, only two tip-ins – which no goaltender could’ve reasonably been expected to stop – eluded Thomas. If Thomas had any doubts about his game, they were crushed by some of the big stops – including a right-pad save on a Jaromir Jagr breakaway.
“I wasn’t feeling necessarily unconfident going into it. I know there was that first bouncy shot at the beginning of the game. I don’t trust the bounces right now, so that’s natural I think. … Especially the save on Jagr, it did help to boost my confidence more than it already was,” said Thomas.
As important as Thomas’ confidence and play is to the Bruins’ future success, his teammates’ belief in him is even more vital. The Bruins’ player wouldn’t have been wrong if they started to be a little skeptical about the netminder’s ability to hold up his end of the bargain, especially considering he’s now appeared in 12 straight games. Had Tuukka Rask not been injured, Thomas would probably still be splitting time with his partner.
Once Thomas proved exhaustion is not an issue by denying Briere, it was safe to say “You are Tim Thomas.” Now the Bruins just need him to stay that way.