|Milt Schmidt meant more to Tim Thomas than Phil Kessel||10.29.10 at 1:14 am ET|
Don’t get Tim Thomas wrong. He still respects Phil Kessel.
It’s just that on this night – one to honor a man with 75 years of history with the Boston Bruins – it was more important for the goalie to focus on getting the win, not the lightning rod of the Hub’s hockey fans.
And focus is exactly what Thomas did, turning away all 20 shots over 60 minutes in posting his 19th career shutout – a 2-0 dispatch of the Toronto Maple Leafs before a fired-up TD Garden sellout crowd.
“Yeah, you know, it being Milt Schmidt night, the best thing we could do for him I think was to get a win, and so we were trying hard to get a good result,” Thomas said. “I mean, just listening to the accomplishments, that that man has had as part of the Bruins organization, and he deserved the win tonight, so we were focusing on that.
“Now as far as Phil Kessel goes, the other side of that coin there the you’re talking about, we’re not thinking about that We’re thinking about the two points. We needed the win. Especially we needed to bounce back after a loss, so we’re not thinking about individuals like that. At least, I’m not.”
That doesn’t mean Kessel didn’t have his chances. He had six shots on net, including one point-blank in the second period when Kessel came up the slot and took possession of a loose puck in front of Thomas.
“Oh, was it? On the other side? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I remember that,” Thomas recalled.
When you’re stopping players like Phil Kessel point blank, you’re likely putting up great numbers. And that’s what Thomas has been doing, ever since getting the start in the season’s second game.
He has two shutouts, including Thursday’s 2-0 win. He is a perfect 5-0 with a 0.60 goals against average. His save percentage is a near-perfect .980.
Is the best start he’s ever had?
“Well, probably statistically? I feel obviously that I’m playing good. The team is playing very well in front of me. They’re really helping me out with rebounds, screens, blocking in the screens, I mean. [Dennis] Seidenberg had as many saves as I did tonight, and that’s making it very helpful.”
The five straight wins to start a season is the best by a Boston goalie since Tiny Thompson went 6-0-0 in his first six games of the 1937-38 season.
Added coach Claude Julien, “Solid again. I think we can’t say enough about the way he’s played. What I liked about his game too, you know, they had some shots from the point and he did a great job of not giving any rebounds. He kept those inside of him. I thought he did a great job of smothering those loose pucks and just solid challenging and confident.”
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