|Roberto Luongo regrets criticizing Tim Thomas||08.18.11 at 4:10 am ET|
Roberto Luongo is used to be critiqued, but it was his criticism of another that intensified the spotlight already being shined on Vancouver goaltender in the Stanley Cup Finals. Luongo infamously said after the Canucks’ Game 5 win that he would have stopped the Maxim Lapierre goal that B’s netminder Tim Thomas allowed go give Vancouver a 1-0 win. Now, he’s saying he regrets criticizing the eventual Conn Smythe winner.
Speaking with Jean-Francois Chaumont of Radio-Canada.ca, Luongo said in French (translated by Stuart St-Amant of CanucksArmy.com) that if he could go back, he would not make the same comments about Thomas.
“Yeah, for sure,” Luongo said when asked whether he regrets his words. “If I could do it again, I wouldn’t say it. I didn’t want to create the buzz that it did. After the fifth game, I had never been so emotional and I got carried away.”
The differing styles of the technically proficient Luongo and the unorthodox Thomas made for an interesting storyline in the finals. Though Luongo was among those praising Thomas leading into the playoffs, his comments when asked about the Game 5 goal were regrettable. Thomas, whose aggressive play out of the net had yielded complaints from the Canucks for the duration of the series, was just outside of the crease as he tried to stop a shot from Kevin Bieksa at the point. When the shot missed the net wide and ricocheted off the end boards and back in front by the opposite post, Lapierre put it in before the Vezina winner could get back.
“That’s not hard if you’re playing in the paint,” Luongo said at the time. “It’s an easy save for me, but if you’re wandering out and aggressive like he does, that’s going to happen. He might make some saves that I won’t, but in cases like that we want to take advantage of bounces like that and make sure we’re in a good position to bury those.”
While media and fans were drawn to Luongo saying it would be “an easy save” for him, the Canucks goaltender took issue with the fact that his whole answer — in which he said Thomas could make saves he couldn’t — wasn’t being heard. In saying that at the airport the following day, Luongo took things a step further, adding that Thomas had not said anything nice about him despite that fact that he was “pumping his tires.” Thomas abstained from a war of words, but did say prior to Game 6 that he “didn’t realize it was my job to pump his tires.”
In the final two games of the series, Luongo allowed six goals (he was pulled after 8:35 in Game 6), while Thomas allowed two goals, including a shutout in the Cup-clinching Game 7.
|Tim Thomas wins pair of ESPYs||07.13.11 at 9:55 pm ET|
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas took home a pair of ESPY awards, winning the award for Best NHL Player and Best Championship Performance.
Thomas led the NHL in both goals against average (2.00) and save percentage (.938) in a Vezina-winning regular season. His save percentage set the record for the best in a single season. He then posted a playoffs-leading .940 save percentage en route to winning the Conn Smythe trophy for the most valuable player to his team in the postseason. He also posted an NHL-best 1.98 goals against average in the playoffs.
Thomas’ Vezina was the second of his career, as he also won the award in the 2008-09 season.
|Tim Thomas wins second Vezina Trophy||06.22.11 at 8:53 pm ET|
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas was named the 2010-11 recipient of the Vezina trophy, awarded to the league’s top goaltender in the regular season.
Thomas beat Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne for the trophy, winning it for the second time in the last three years. Thomas led the NHL with a .938 save percentage and a 2.00 goals against average. His save percentage is the best in a single season since the statistic began being recorded by the league.
Thomas is now the fifth goaltender to win the Vezina multiple times since 1982, when the criteria for the distinction switched from allowing the fewest regular-season goals to being the top regular-season goaltender.
When the regular season began, Thomas was not expected to be the team’s starter. Though he had won the Vezina in 2009, hip issues and a dip in performance saw him lose the starting job to Tuukka Rask down the stretch in the 2009-10 season. Rask started each game of the 2010 postseason as the Bruins were eliminated by the Flyers in the second round.
Thomas had offseason hip surgery, and when Rask allowed four goals in the team’s season-opening 5-2 loss to the Coyotes in Prague, coach Claude Julien gave Thomas the start the next night. Thomas shut out Phoenix in that Oct. 10 contest, and never relinquished the starting job or the league lead in GAA and save percentage.
Thomas is now the first Vezina-winner since 2003 (Martin Brodeur) to win the Stanley Cup in the same season. He is the first goalie since 1975 (Bernie Parent) to win the Vezina, Stanley Cup and Conn Smythe trophy in the same season, though at that time, the criteria for the Vezina was as listed above.
|Bruins year in review: Save of the year||06.21.11 at 2:11 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. We started it off by looking at the goal of the year and fight of the year. Up today is save of the year, and it should be fresh enough in people’s minds to remember.
SAVE OF THE YEAR
Tim Thomas on Steve Downie, Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay
“I was thinking, ‘Thank God he saved it.’ We were up by one goal in Game 5, so that was possibly the turning point in the series. They could have scored, won, gained momentum and had a chance to go back home and win. I was happy, but there’s been a lot of moments like that when there’s just a sigh of relief that ‘there he goes again.’ As amazing as his saves are, I don’t think anybody in here is amazed that he makes them, because he’s so good.”
- Gregory Campbell
A shoo-in for the Vezina, Tim Thomas had enough candidates for this before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning. Then he turned in what may be remembered as one of the greatest stick saves of all time when the stakes were just about as high as they could be.
With the series tied at two games apiece and the Bruins holding onto a 2-1 lead in the third period, Eric Brewer took a slapshot from the point that went wide of Thomas’ net. With Thomas at the top of the crease, it would seem that Steve Downie would be a fortunate man to have the puck bounce off the endboards and right to him next to the net. Downie went to put the put in the net to tie the game, but Thomas came to the rescue, knocking the puck down in mid-air with his stick despite hitting the post with his blade. No player had a better view of the play than Gregory Campbell, so his amazement with Thomas’ save should not be taken lightly.
The save yielded an insane reaction from the Garden crowd, and the Lightning would not get another opportunity like that for the rest of the game. Tampa would eventually pull Mike Smith for an extra attacker, and Rich Peverley would put the game away with an empty netter.
This was just one of the many outstanding saves Thomas made in a postseason in which he was the easy Conn Smythe winner. While his regular season was record-setting, his postseason was even better. There may be no better illustration of how Thomas stepped up than that save.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tim Thomas on Brian Gionta (Game 5 of quarterfinals), Tim Thomas on Francois Beauchemin (Dec. 4), Tuukka Rask on Kyle Brodziak (Jan. 6)
|Shawn Thornton on The Big Show: Bruins used Canucks’ comments as motivation||06.20.11 at 6:28 pm ET|
Bruins forward and two-time Stanley Cup winner Shawn Thornton joined The Big Show Monday to review the Stanley Cup finals and the entire Stanley Cup playoffs. To hear the interview, check out The Big Show audio on demand page.
Following Game 7, rookie forward Brad Marchand said that he hated the Canucks given how “cocky” they were throughout the series. Thornton wouldn’t use Marchand’s words, but he did share the same feelings.
“No, I mean I don’t want to talk bad about them and be a sore winner, but I will say some of the comments that were made and kind of the way everyone had us dialed in,” he said. “They were planning the parade on Monday and they hadn’t even won the game yet. Stuff like that motivates the other team. We did a good job of toeing the line and not letting anything get out into the open. Even though we were a confident bunch as a group we weren’t out there talking about it as much.”
Even though Thornton’s line, the fourth line did not score much during the playoff run, Thornton knew what their role was and how it changed from series to series.
“Our line, when we played over a certain amount we did a good job getting the puck deep, and creating energy,” he said. “That’s our role. In different series’ our line was used in different ways. The Montreal series not as much, they are run and gun, the Philadelphia series we were used a little more and Tampa not as much again because they are built a little different, but that Vancouver series the first couple games they came out and were really physical, so our line did the same thing and we wanted to push that and be physical.”
Thornton did not play in the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals, but was inserted into the lineup for Game 3.
“Right before warm up I found out,” Thornton said. “That was tough, I’m not going to lie. I thought he [Claude Julien] was going to make the change, but you are never 100 percent. I was ecstatic. I prepared like I was playing, but it’s different when you’re not sure. You’d rather know, but I guess it was a last minute decision and it worked out just fine.”
After going down dropping the first two games in Vancouver the Bruins knew that they weren’t out of it.
“We knew we were in them, we were a goal away in each game,” Thornton said. “We knew if we got back playing the way we needed to play we could win. We did a good job all year of not letting the highs get too high and the lows too low, and we did a really good job after that game of just focusing on the next game and the game after that. That was our main focus going into those games.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Stanley Cup toes the rubber at Fenway with help from the Bruins||06.19.11 at 6:00 pm ET|
Zdeno Chara, Tim Thomas and the rest of the 2011 Stanley Cup champion Bruins were paraded around the warning track for 10 minutes prior to Sunday’s Red Sox game against the Brewers.
Chara and Thomas were on the lead duck boat of four that were in the processional that began by entering through the center field wall about 15 minutes before first pitch.
Chara was holding up the Stanley Cup for nearly the entire time during the procession around Fenway.
After making one round around Fenway, the players departed in the center field triangle and made their way to the infield with the Stanley Cup, in addition to the Eastern Conference trophy and the Conn Smythe trophy, earned by Thomas as the MVP of the Stanley Cup playoff run.
The pre-game ceremony was capped off by all members of the Bruins throwing simultaneous first pitches to the Red Sox players, who stood in a line from dugout to dugout behind home plate.
|Peter Chiarelli happy he didn’t trade Tim Thomas||06.17.11 at 1:19 pm ET|
Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas was a popular guy last offseason, as he was brought up in trade rumors, some of which were falsely reported. Though the goalie was never going to Philadelphia in exchange for Simon Gagne, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Friday at TD Garden that he did have talks with other teams about Thomas, who was coming off hip surgery, had lost his starting job to Tuukka Rask and at the time had three years of a $5 million annual cap hit left on his deal.
“At the time there was kind of a mutually agreement between myself and Tim and Bill Zito, Tim’s agent, just to explore it and on the premise that Tim does not want to leave Boston,” Chiarelli said of trading Thomas. “And that’s really where it ended. It’s really where it ended. And there was some calls in that and they kept him in the loop at all times and he kept stressing he didn’t want to leave. I said ‘I know, let’s just look at this very briefly.’ And I know there are a lot of stories that flowed from it, but I can’t stress enough the fact that Tim never wanted to leave.
“I wouldn’t be doing my job if I at least didn’t look at some things, and I did. You go through those things, on a number of fronts on a number of fronts, on a number of players. You just field stuff, you look at them, you talk to other teams. And at the end of the day you make the decision yay or nay. And here it was nay. And it was an easy nay.”
Thomas ended up reclaiming the starting job, turning in a shutout in his first start of the season Oct. 10 in Prague against the Coyotes. He ended up allowing just three goals in six starts in October, and even after leveling out was still dominant throughout a season that will undoubtedly earn him his second Vezina trophy in Vegas next week. His .938 save percentage is the best for a goalie in a single season since the stat has been recorded.
Thomas was also named the Conn Smythe trophy winner after the Stanley Cup finals concluded. The award is given to the player most valuable to his team during the playoffs, and Thomas clearly proved that by allowing just eight goals in the seven-game series vs. the Canucks.
Thomas, 37, has two years with a $5 million cap hit left on his contract.
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