There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus… after the All-Star break
|01.27.11 at 4:49 pm ET|
There will be plenty of time for Tim Thomas to focus on what’s at stake in the final 32 games of the regular season and hopefully, long after that. He reminded reporters of that following Wednesday night’s win when asked about the second half of the season that starts following this weekend’s All-Star game.
“Man, we just started the break five minutes ago,” Thomas said. “I’m just going to focus on the break. Otherwise, we don’t get that mental break we’re talking about.”
Fair enough. Thomas has earned the right to reflect on what has been a first half filled with superlatives worthy of a Vezina and Hart trophy winner. Thomas has been that good.
– He came within 11 minutes and 23 seconds of his NHL-leading eighth shutout on Wednesday night against the Panthers.
– He leads the NHL in goals against at 1.81.
– He leads the NHL in save percentage at .945.
– He is tied for second in wins with 24 behind Anaheim’s Jonas Hiller.
– His teammates believe they will win every time he takes the ice.
That last one is the most subjective but also the most important. Thomas has recovered from summer hip surgery to become the backbone of their Bruins team. So, after the 2-1 Wednesday Thomas admitted he’ll take some time to savor the winning feeling heading into the break before gearing up physically and mentally for the final 32.
“I was thinking win, feel the good feeling,” Thomas said. “Then you can really savor the feeling for a couple of days because usually we travel or get ready for another game. So yeah I thought about it.”
There’s something different – a pro athlete actually admitting he is only human and he was looking ahead just a little bit to the break coming up, though he tried not to.
“Our goal was not to start the break too early,” Thomas said. “We came out and played a really good first period. In the second and third we played good at times but Florida was able to pressure us at times. I think we did a fairly good job. Speaking from personal experience, I couldn’t help but think about the break a little bit. I was trying to focus on the game and making sure I was ready to do my job and my work, but it is human nature.”
Even his coach admitted games like Wednesday are hard for Thomas and everyone.
“It’s a challenge in itself, and what you got to remember too is that the team that you’re playing, is really desperate to make the playoffs and they’re going to give you their best effort and they’re going to compete hard and we knew they were going to compete hard from start to finish,” Claude Julien said.
But now that it’s here, it’s time for Thomas and everyone to take a deep breath. So, how will he spend the next four days? He’ll be in Raleigh, N.C. playing in the newfangled NHL All-Star weekend, capped off by the game on Sunday. But Thomas says not to worry, he’ll be able to relax and have some fun.
“I plan on this weekend being a mental break as much as possible,” Thomas said. “I will be taking a break, too, even though I am at the All Star game. What is physically required of me is not very hard. I will try to make sure I am fresh when I come back too.
The All-Star Game is the last place he or anyone, for that matter, thought Thomas would be heading to at the break. Now’s he’s getting ready to play in his third in four years, after taking a break in 2010.
“I am excited to go to the All-Star game,” Thomas said. “Five years ago it was a pipe dream that I would ever be in a. NHL All-Star game. I understand that it is hard for some guys especially when you go to the Stanley Cup finals a few years in a row. I am personally very pleased to be going.”
All of which means you can bet that Thomas will be rested and ready when he stays put to play 48 hours later on the same RBC Center ice. Only this time, having a good ole’ time won’t be his first priority.