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Tim Thomas unveils quirky tactic after latest ‘sick’ performance

01.26.11 at 11:39 pm ET
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For as long as there has been hockey, there has been the stereotype that goalies ‘€” perhaps even more than other players ‘€” have their quirks. In Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Panthers, Bruins netminder Tim Thomas used one of his to make sure he knew what he was working with at all times.

When asked about the closing seconds of the game and a save he made on former teammate Dennis Wideman with 0.4 seconds to go, Thomas revealed a habit of his that he has depended on over the years.

“I count how many right-handed guys and how many left-handed guys there are, and there was only one right-handed guy on the ice there at the end, with Wideman,” Thomas said. “Unless I miscounted.

“I know that if they wrap it on my glove side, a lefty is going to have a different shot, but I knew where the right-handed guy was going to be because I’ve been watching Wides on TV and that’€™s where he’s scoring a lot of his goals, right from that pocket where he tried to get a shot on me. So to make a long story short, I was prepared for a right-handed shot from that angle.”

Thomas said he counts lefties and righties every faceoff and every line change. It seems like a logical and useful tactic for a goalie, but none of the reporters in the room, including one former goalie, had ever heard of anyone doing it. Thomas said he wasn’t sure how many other goalies did it, either.

“I don’t know,” he said. “I started doing it in Europe because there are so few right-handed guys. So I actually had to be aware of when there was more than one right-handed guy on the ice.”

The way Thomas, who has been dealing with a cold, broke down that final play of the game, he made it sound almost as if he was seeing it all unfold in slow motion. When asked if that’s how it felt to him, he noted that he just seems to be on top of things when he’s under the weather.

“It actually felt like [I could see the game in slow motion] all night for some reason,” he said. “I’ve got a cold if you guys haven’€™t heard that, and that seems to happen to me when I have a cold. I play some of my best games sick. I personally don’t like it, physically. But for example, my family, whenever they find out I’m sick, they’re like, ‘Hey, you’re going to play good.’”

Whatever Thomas is doing and however he feels, it’s obviously working. And it’s probably best to not try and make sense of it. To paraphrase Reg Dunlop in “Slap Shot,” he’s a goalie, he’s supposed to be like that.

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