Team psychologist Tim Thomas bends but doesn’t break under pressure
|05.18.11 at 11:15 am ET|
Tim Thomas had better games in these 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs than the one he played Tuesday night in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference final at TD Garden.
He allowed five goals on 41 shots on goal. He gave up a goal in the game’s first 13 seconds and the last 6.5 seconds of the first period, allowing the Lightning to take a 2-1 lead to the dressing room in the first intermission. As a goalie, Thomas knows you have to be equal parts netminder and psychologist.
“Each time you get some odd goals like that, it can put you on your heels,” Thomas said. “The human tendency is to tell yourself, ‘Oh, just, it’s not going to be our night.’ The team didn’t do that, and they fought back. They fought back after the first goal. We had really, a pretty good first period. And then we had another, second goal there at the end of the first period, which could deflate you. But being in the locker room between periods, we were never deflated.
“We’re determined to stick with it and in the second period there, Tyler Seguin and Michael Ryder stepped up and got big goals for us. I’ve said it before, we know we have character. We’re battle tested by now. But having said that, you have to keep stepping up every time you need to, and we found a way to do that.”
After Seguin and Ryder put on a scoring display in the five-goal second period, it was up to Thomas and the Bruins to make a three-goal cushion hold. Thomas was – as they say – huge when he needed to be and made several spectacular saves in the second and third periods, helping the Bruins escape with a series-stabilizing 6-5 win.
Thomas’ first huge save actually led to Seguin’s first goal as he stopped Martin St. Louis 21 seconds into the second period. Then, he used his face mask in stopping Ryan Malone on a breakaway later in the period and that led to Seguin’s second spectacular goal of the period just moments later as the Bruins took a 4-2 lead. Then, in the third period, with the Lightning on the verge of tying the game, Thomas used his right pad and skate to kick away a Vinny Lecavalier shot between the circles.
Ironically, it was a save that he didn’t make where he showed how tough he could be as Dominic Moore shot went off his face and into the net, after his own defenseman crashed into him, knocking his mask off.
“I didn’t know,” Thomas said. “Dominic Moore was the guy in front of the net. I think what made my mask come off was Adam McQuaid was trying to get across the crease and we kind of ran into each other. I haven’t seen the replay. I have been told the puck went off my head but I didn’t even realize it. At that point I was trying to find it I think.”
Thomas showed again Tuesday that you don’t have to save every shot to make big saves.
“I think experience helps in those situations,” Thomas said. “Just this year we were in a few games, I think we beat Philly 7-5 or something like that, and we had a similar game against Montreal. Experience helps you to learn that, each time a goal goes in, you’ve just got to put it behind you. You’ve got to start focusing on the next one. If you start thinking about the goals that just went in, it’s going to lead to other goals, and it’s not going to be helpful. With our big second period there, I knew we had a big lead going into the third period, and the plan wasn’t to let them get close at all.
“But when it gets 6-4 and 6-5, when you’re a younger goaltender, it might be hard for you to keep your focus. But I’ve been through enough situations similar to that. I was just trying to keep my focus, and when it got 6-5, do everything I possibly could to keep it from becoming 6-6.”
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