Are the Bruins this year’s Blackhawks? The Blackhawks can see the signs
|03.30.11 at 10:54 am ET|
After a game like Tuesday’s, there is most certainly a temptation to look ahead to how far this Bruins team could be going in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s especially tempting when you consider the Bruins dismantled the team that won the Cup last June.
But Tim Thomas isn’t biting, not even after stopping all 32 shots in a 3-0 win over the Blackhawks.
“Haven’t thought about it at all, to be honest with you,” Thomas said after his career-best ninth shutout this season and 26th career. “I’m just focusing on each game-to-game, and even during the game just trying to play the same way for the whole 60 minutes no matter what the situation. We’re pretty good about not think about that kind of stuff lately, so I’d prefer not to start now, if you don’t mind.
“This was a good challenge for us. Chicago is a good team, I know they’re battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. But that’s a good thing because you know they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game, because those points mean a lot to them. It was a big test, and we responded very well. They’re a very fast team and we had our legs going right from the beginning of the game and were able to match them stride for stride.”
If the Bruins are headed for a deep run this spring, Thomas will be a good reason. He turned away every scoring chance in the first period, discouraging the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks so much that even their coach felt his team — battling for its playoff life — was discouraged.
“They were the harder working team tonight,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “They play hard. First 10 minutes, we are on our heels. We got back in the game and we didn’t do much after they scored first.”
Blueliner Brian Campbell was on the Blackhawks team that ended a 49-year title drought last June in Philadelphia. The Bruins are currently on a 39-year drought. Campbell can see similarities, not on the calendar but rather where it counts — on the ice.
“Yeah, they have a good team,” Campbell said. “They’re very disciplined, well-coached. I think they come back hard in their own zone and kind of wait for their breaks to score. They have a great team. That’s about all you can say. Obviously, it’s how you’re playing going into the playoffs.”
Duncan Keith is another Blackhawks defenseman with a ring from last spring.
“You have to give them credit,” Keith said. “They have a good team and they scored the first goal. They play well when they have the lead and they are tough to score against. I still think there is another level that we needed to get to and needed to find.”
But perhaps more telling from Keith were his observations about the way the Bruins are winning. They’re actually enjoying themselves — a lot like they were last spring — and not playing uptight.
“This is the time of year where we are fighting for our lives and other teams are fighting for their lives. They are trying to get their games ready for the playoffs. It is fun hockey to play like that. It is more challenging and it’s how you become a better player and a better team to play these types of teams. It is frustrating not to get the win. You do have to give the Bruins credit. They have a good team.”
Still, told of all this praise from the team he shut down, Thomas was not biting. He said his wife has a baseball bat to conk him with if his head gets filled with too many thoughts. So, he would just prefer to keep an empty head for now and avoid distraction and his wife’s wrath.
“Yes, it’s scary sometimes,” Thomas said of his empty-headed approach. “I’m in one of those good places, and now the challenge is to keep it.”