|Tim Thomas and Dwayne Roloson stand the test of time||05.13.11 at 3:52 pm ET|
Goaltending is the one position on the ice where age and experience may mean the most.
Just ask Tim Thomas, Dwayne Roloson and their respective teams as they get ready for Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Saturday night at TD Garden.
Roloson leads all NHL playoff goalies with a 2.01 goals against in 11 games, posting an 8-3 record.
Thomas is right behind him at 2.03, with an identical 8-3 mark.
Thomas just turned 37 on April 15 while Roloson turns 42 this October.
“I think if age is a factor in any way, it’s actually a benefit to both of us,” Thomas said. “The experiences that we’ve been through just to get to these points in our career, they actually do help. They do help in these playoff-type atmosphere. If anything, I’d say that the age works to our advantage.
“But in this case we’re so close and we’re both in the higher age category for this business that I don’t think it’s really an advantage either way.”
“When it comes to goaltending, I think experience is a big factor,” Bruins coach Claude Julien said. “You can have a good young goaltender, but if he doesn’t have experience of pressure in playoffs, you see what happens. Those guys are old enough, have enough experience, been through the grinds, the ups and downs, they’ve been able to handle it well.
“Certainly physically they got to battle. As a team you try to make it as easy as possible on those guys, clearing rebounds, not giving second shots, not giving poor-angle shots, try to make their job as easy as you can.”
Lightning coach Guy Boucher is well aware of how dominating Thomas was against Philadelphia and that he’s capable of repeating it again this round.
“Reality is whatever we have planned for Tim Thomas he’s probably going to figure it out,” Boucher said Friday. “It’s in our heads. Make no mistake.”
It should surprise no one that the two have formed a bond over the years. And even more to the point, their careers actually linked going all the way back to when Thomas was thinking of going to U-Mass Lowell, only to choose Vermont since Roloson was already the goalie in Lowell.
Not only do Claude Julien and the team have confidence in Tim Thomas, the Bruins goalie said Friday he believes this Bruins team has already proven in two playoff series wins they have what it take to hoist the Stanley Cup in June.
“I think it was a confidence that grew throughout the year,” Thomas said of the that won the Northeast Division and entered the playoffs as the No. 3 seed in the East. “Till you get to the playoffs, you don’t really know that for sure what you have as a group. I think that the first round against Montreal was a testing ground for us. We started it out right way from some adversity, getting down in the series, 2-0. We started to find out what we were made of.
“Come to find out, we’re made of some pretty stern stuff. We have a lot of the things that it takes to win a championship, hopefully all of them.”
The 37-year-old Thomas will square off against 41-year-old goalie Dwayne Roloson and the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night in Game 1. Roloson and Thomas enter the Eastern Conference finals with identical 8-3 playoff marks this spring and nearly identical goals against averages.
Hockey Night in Canada commentator Don Cherry checked in with the Dennis & Callahan show Friday morning to talk about the Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
The Bruins picked things up offensively in the series sweep of the Flyers, but Cherry said goals will be at a premium against Lightning backstopper Dwayne Roloson. He predicts both team’s goalies will take center stage in this series.
“I tell you one thing, they won’t get those goals off of Roloson,” Cherry said. “I phoned [Capitals coach] Bruce Boudreau in January and left him a message. I usually don’t do that, but I said, ‘You’ve got to get a hold of that Roloson. This guy will win you the Stanley Cup. He’s hungry, he’s 41 years old, this is his last shot.’ And he didn’t do it. A week later, [Lightning general manager] Stevie Yzerman picked him up. I think he got two shutouts in a row, shut out Washington. He is dynamite.
“And I’ll tell you one thing: Philadelphia, I have never understood them that they have gone 20 years and they seem as if they don’t want to get a good goaltender. It’s beyond me.
“You watch this guy [Saturday night], Roloson. He is dynamite. But Timmy Thomas, right on the money, too. This is going to be a battle of goaltenders.”
Added Cherry of Thomas: “Timmy Thomas is on a roll right now. He’s got something to prove.”
Cherry, who coached the Bruins from 1974-75 through 1978-79, predicts the Bruins will advance to the Stanley Cup finals vs. the Canucks. “I like Boston,” he said. “I picked Boston to be in the finals. But this will be a tough one, because these guys are on a roll ‘ [Martin] St. Louis and [Vincent] Lecavalier. And [Steven] Stamkos hasn’t really picked it up yet. I’ll tell you one thing: This is going to be a great series.”
|Matthew Barnaby on D&C: Bruins over Lightning in Eastern Conference finals||05.05.11 at 10:32 am ET|
ESPN NHL analyst Matthew Barnaby joined the Dennis & Callahan show Thursday morning to talk about the Bruins’ success in the Eastern Conference semifinals. To hear the interview, go to the Dennis & Callahan audio on demand page.
Boston took a 3-0 series lead on the Flyers with Wednesday night’s 5-1 victory and can close out the series Friday night at TD Garden.
“They’re playing at full tilt and they really aren’t making that many mistakes,” Barnaby said of the B’s. “When you look at the Philadelphia side, they just can’t seem to get anything going. ‘¦ It’s a different team than we saw all year long, very suspect goaltending and Chris Pronger not being in that lineup really changes the dynamic of that team.”
Tim Thomas has been stellar in the Boston goal and drawn comparisons to one of Barnaby’s former teammates. “Tim Thomas is to me right now what I played with in Dominik Hasek when I was with Buffalo,” Barnaby said. “He gets into guys’ heads. He makes you pass when you think you should shoot and shoot when you think you should pass. That plays into guys’ minds.
“Sometimes he has you beat [mentally]. He has shooters passing when they should be shooting, and it’s a tough thing to not think you can score. Because I saw it time in and time out, frustrating other teams, night after night, shift after shift. And that’s what Tim Thomas is doing. You expect him to make that big save, and it plays mind games with you.”
The Lightning swept the top-seeded Capitals in the other Eastern Conference semifinal, and that has Barnaby anticipating an exciting Bruins-Lightning series.
“I love this series,” Barnaby said. “You look at goaltending. Dwayne Roloson and Tim Thomas have been the two best goalies in the postseason so far and would be candidates for the Conn Smythe, early running. You look at power plays. Well, you have to give it to Tampa Bay. They’ve been incredible. I think they have 11 or 12 power-play goals already [12 for a 26.7 percent success rate]. Both with some dynamic forwards. The defensive side, I’d give it to Boston. I think Zdeno Chara, he’s logged so many minutes, he’s such a big man.
“I really think it will be an incredible series and could go seven games.”
Asked who he’d predict to win the series, Barnaby said: “I would take Boston.”