Things hadn’t gone great for Tim Thomas after he had allowed six goals in what would eventually be a 6-2 Bruins win Tuesday, and they got worse when he went after Bruins forward Carl Soderberg with 3.4 seconds left over a play and could put himself in Brendan Shanahan‘s phonebook.
Soderberg was going for a rebound in front of the net his stick appeared to make contact with Thomas’ mask. Thomas didn’t like it and struck Soderberg in the head with the paddle of his stick.
“Soderberg, the play before that he did quite a hard jab and then all of the sudden the puck is up in the air, you’re catching it, and his stick is in my throat,” Thomas said after the game. “With less than a minute left in a game and they’re up by four goals, 6-2, I took exception to that.”
The idea that a player shouldn’t go for a rebound late in a blowout is preposterous, especially coming from as hard a worker as Tim Thomas . There’s no unwritten rule about players letting up in already decided games, just like there’s no unwritten rule about batter striking out in the top of the ninth inning when their team is winning.
Told of Thomas’ suggestion that there was something wrong with playing until the final whistle, Soderberg found the logic rather silly.
“We can’t stop playing just because the game has like 30 seconds left,” Soderberg said. “We have to try to score the whole way.”
Thomas has never been suspended in his career, but Tuesday’s whack at Soderberg’s head is a strong candidate to be his first.
Claude Julien  agreed with Soderberg, taking no issue with the player going to the net as he usually does.
“Well Carl does that even in practice,” Julien said. “I’m not going to say he’s reckless, but he has no fear. It’s great to see a guy like that just go in there and get his nose dirty. It doesn’t matter what time of game; you tell your players to play until the final whistle, and that’s what he does.”
Soderberg said that Thomas hit him in the ear but that he was OK. He disagreed with Thomas’ assertion that he put his stick in Thomas’ throat.
“Oh, not really,” Soderberg countered. “I was just going for a rebound.”
Tuesday’s game was the first Thomas had played against the Bruins in Boston. The first question asked to him in a heavily attended postgame media scrum was whether he’d had fun in his return to the Garden.
“Well, no,” Thomas said. “I think I might’ve enjoyed myself watching the State of the Union more. No, probably not.”