Before the reporter could even get the question out of his mouth, you could see the smirk on the face of the man who will likely win the Vezina Trophy this year.
The question to Bruins goalie Tim Thomas? Seems like Toronto (now 4-2-0 against Boston this season) has a done pretty good job of handling you guys. How do you feel your [playoff] chances are going forward?
“They’re terrible. We have no chance in the playoffs, we lost to the Toronto Maple Leafs at home,” Thomas said, with sarcasm showing his playoff-ready intensity.
It wasn’t the best of nights for Thomas, who had his shutout streak snapped at 122 minutes, 21 seconds when Luke Schenn scored just over seven minutes into the game. And yes, the Bruins did lose for just the third time this season in 31 games when leading after two periods. And yes, they also fell to 2-6 this year in shootouts.
But after his brush with sarcasm, Thomas gave a more direct and heartfelt response.
“I mean Toronto has definitely had our number and they’ve played better than us when we’ve played against them this year. But they have a good team with a lot of speed and a lot of talent. I don’t get to watch them all year long, but if they played the same way every game this year like they played against us, I’d expect them to be in a better spot.”
Hmmmm. That could be taken two different ways. Toronto – with players like Joffrey Lupul and Phil Kessel – is talented. But they also have 82 points now, and still on the outside, looking in on the race for the eighth and final playoff spot. Which brings us to the Bruins.
How important is it for the Bruins to get that momentum heading into the NHL’s second – and most important – season?
“I think it’s pretty good to take the same theory that you’re going to have to take in the playoffs, which is the same theory that you should have in the regular season, which is not too high and not too low. We’ve had some big wins here recently, beating Montreal, Philadelphia, Chicago, and now it’s kind of a tough loss to take. But in either case it should be not too high, not too low. Don’t think you’re too good if you get that win and don’t think you’re too bad if you get that loss.”
As for the goals the Leafs scored, Thomas said they were pretty similar to the ones they’ve scored all season against the Bruins.
“They’re typical Toronto goals,” Thomas said. “They’ve had a lot of those against us this year. Montreal had the same at one point, just seems to be the way it’s worked out.”
But to Thomas, it means nothing going foward.