WILMINGTON — Tim Thomas  won the Conn Smythe Award for the most outstanding player of the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup  title run. He was the man between the pipes as Boston became the first team ever to win three Game 7s en route to a Stanley Cup  championship.
The man knows the pressure that comes with playoff hockey.
So, what’s the key to handling it?
For the answer, Thomas looked back to the 25th and final game of the team’s memorable run last spring in Vancouver.
“Before Game 7, when we were talking in the locker room, one of things we were saying as a team was, everybody was tired by that point,” Thomas recalled Tuesday, two days before he opens defense in Game 1 against the Capitals. “It’s a long playoffs. Everyone’s got bumps and bruises and more than bumps and bruises, and they’re tired.
“Instead of putting pressure on ourselves to come out and think we needed in Game 7 the best game of our lives, as a group we made a decision that we don’t need everybody to be better than they’ve ever been in lives before. We just need everybody to be as good as they can be and that will be enough to make us come out on top. So, that’s probably the same type of attitude we need to take this year.”
He thinks this team is talented enough to make a legitimate run at it again.”
As for handling Alex Ovechkin , Alexander Semin and Nicklas Backstrom, Thomas isn’t so worried about the Capitals coming in as underdogs as a No. 7 seed in the East.
“I hope they’re not reading these articles,” Thomas joked. “I don’t want to give them any advice.”
But Thomas acknowledged something interesting: Playing in Boston – even as a No. 7 seed back years ago – came with its own pressure, which may not be there for the Capitals against the defending champs.
“This is Boston, one of the “Original 6″ teams,” he said. “There’s always a lot of pressure when you put it that way. So even when we made the playoffs as a No. 7 for example, I think there were people who had high expectations for us. I don’t know how Washington is going to approach it, and I don’t know it that’s how Ovie is going to approach it. He may end up putting too much pressure on himself and it could go either way.
“How we get prepared is we should be prepared for everybody on Washington to be bringing their best. If we’re prepared for them to bring their best but then still prepared on our end to come out ahead at the end of the series, then if they don’t bring their best, even better for us. But we have to be ready for that and be ready for what Washington brings.”
What will the Bruins bring in terms of an approach?
“Don’t look at it like, ‘Oh, we have to go win another Cup.’ Just focus on the now, focus each individual game,” Thomas said. “One game, one period, one shift at a time, we did a great job of breaking it down to that type of attitude, especially as the playoffs went on last year. That’s what helped us get through it.”