|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.”
|Video: Bruins beat Lightning in Game 2||at 1:35 am ET|
|Tim Thomas wants people to keep these games in perspective||05.16.11 at 1:50 pm ET|
Bruins goalie Tim Thomas offered some perspective on losing Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Lightning on Saturday night. On Monday, following the team’s first full practice since falling behind in the series.
“You think about it but it’s on the outside of your thinking,” Thomas said when asked if he were nervous about Game 2 drawing closer on Tuesday night. “As the game draws closer, you think about it more. We had two days off so naturally, you’re going to be thinking about the game more tonight than [Sunday].
“I think you should get mentally prepared. It can get all-consuming but I don’t think really that’s the right way to go. These hockey games are important, they’re important to us, they’re important to the city but to be realistic, it is just a game. You look around at what’s going on in the world right now, Israel was attacked on numerous fronts yesterday. It can really make you put it in perspective.”
|Video: Bruins react to game one loss to Lightning||05.15.11 at 12:43 am ET|
|Bruins drop Game 1 to Lightning||05.14.11 at 10:57 pm ET|
The Bruins put themselves in a familiar spot Saturday, as they dropped Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals to the Lightning at home, 5-2.
The B’s lost Game 1 of the first round to the Canadiens at TD Garden before dropping Game 2 but battling back to win the series in seven games. There’s plenty of hockey left to be played, and Boston will have to hope for different results and better handling of the puck going forward.
The Lightning got their scoring out of the way with one crushing wave in the middle of the first period. Sean Bergenheim continued his league-leading scoring pace, notching his eighth goal of the postseason at 11:15, with Brett Clark beating Tim Thomas on a backhander 19 seconds later. Teddy Purcell scored off an ugly Tomas Kaberle turnover at 12:40, making it three goals for Tampa Bay in a matter of 1:25. Marc-Andre Bergeron scored the Lightning’s fourth goal on the power play at 13:37 of the third period while Simon Gagne added an empty-netter.
Tyler Seguin, playing in his first postseason game, a nifty goal at 15:59 of the first period. Chris Kelly’s tally came with 1:01 left in a game the Bruins had already lost.
Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves for the Lightning in the victory.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
- Two of the the goals scored by the Lightning in a matter of 85 seconds came off bad turnovers by the Bruins. With a big mess in front of Tim Thomas’ net, a stick-less Dennis Seidenberg kicked the puck right onto the stick of Sean Bergenheim, who fired the puck in for his eighth goal of the playoffs.
Yet while Seidenberg’s play certainly came in a hectic moment, the sam could not be said for the third goal. Teddy Purcell skated right in and reached behind the net to mug Kaberle and tuck the puck past Thomas. Two unassisted goals against were not what the B’s were looking for.
- Foolish move by Milan Lucic late in the game, as the 22-year-old winger clocked Victor Hedman in the face with 36.7 left in the game. He was tossed from the game, and should he face further discipline, a Bruins team that’s already missing Patrice Bergeron could be in big trouble.
- Thomas has been great this postseason, but he would definitely like to have the Lightning’s second goal back. Brett Clark carried the puck through the neutral zone and down the right wing before beating Thomas stick-side with a fluttering backhander. Soft goals are always bad, but this one was even more devastating because it came just 19 seconds after Tampa’s first goal.
After the three goals, Thomas came up big for the B’s multiple times. He absolutely robbed Steve Downie with a little more than 5:30 left in the seconds to keep it a two-goal game.
- Seemingly in an effort to get some more life out of the Bruins’ offense, Claude Julien swapped Seguin and Mark Recchi in the third period. Seguin skated with Brad Marchand and Chris Kelly, while Recchi went to the third line with Michael Ryder and Rich Peverley. Unfortunately for the Bruins, it yielded no results, and the lines reverted back to the way they began the game.
- It’s cliche at this point to list the power play as a wrong, but as long as it continues to do nothing, it’s going to be here. Normally when a team’s down by two goals, three power plays in a period would be exactly what it needs to get back in the game. Not for the Bruins, though. They didn’t even threaten on their three man advantages in the second, as they consistently struggled to enter the zone. When they did get the puck in deep, it often came right back out either due to losing puck battles or making bad passes. An example of this came when Seidenberg cycled the puck back to nobody and out of the zone. The B’s mustered only three shots in their three second-period power plays and finished the night 0-for-4.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
- It was only fitting that Seguin’s first career playoff goal be of highlight-reel variety. The rookie, who scored his first goal of the season in Prague on a Hail Mary pass from Ryder before crashing into the net, made the Garden crowd go nuts with his first-period goal. Seguin took a pass from Ryder in the neutral zone and proceeded to make Lightning defenseman Mike Lundin look foolish as the rookie used fancy stickwork to go through the defenseman before sliding it past Roloson.
It was predictable that Seguin wouldn’t get big minutes, but Claude Julien took it to a bit of an extreme, even despite the rookie’s goal. Seguin would have to wait 14:56 worth of hockey before he’d get back on the ice, as his next shift did not come until 11:55 into the second period. He had only two shifts in the second period, though he threw a nice hit on Lundin in the corner on of of them, providing a small sample of physical play, an area in which he’s rarely been engaged in his rookie year.
- Not that any of the ensuing power plays led to anything, but give David Krejci for drawing a pair of Lightning infractions. The first-line center drew two different tripping calls on Tampa Bay in the second period, as both Eric Brewer and Adam Hall went off for tripping Krejci.
Join DJ Bean, Mike Petraglia, Rob Bradford, Joey the Fish and a cast of others as the Bruins take the ice in the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 1992. Ask questions, comment on the game, or just sit back and enjoy the different views. The fun starts at 7:30 p.m.
|Bruins-killer Simon Gagne: ‘They’re on a mission’||at 12:57 pm ET|
Simon Gagne should be used to facing the Bruins in the playoffs by now. A season ago, he was arguably the man that sunk them in the Eastern Conference semifinals.
With the Bruins holding a 3-0 series lead over Philadelphia, Gagne, then a Flyer, returned to the lineup for Game 4 after a broken toe suffered in the first round vs. the Devils kept him out of the beginning of the series. Gagne scored the game-winning goal in overtime to keep the Flyers alive in the series, and added a pair of goals three days later in a 4-0 Phialdelphia win in Game 5. His most crucial goal of the series would come in Game 7, when he notched the go-ahead tally in the third period following a costly too-many-ice penalty taken by the Bruins. The goal was the game-winner, and it capped the Flyers’ comeback from trailing, 3-0, in both the series and Game 7.
Now, Gagne is once again returning from a playoff absence (this time a head injury suffered in the second round) to face the Bruins, but it’s as a member of the Lightning following an offseason trade. Gagne watched the last series between his old mates and the Bruins, and he said Saturday that he sees a difference from a season ago.
“It’s a different team from last year,” Gagne said. “They got some new guys, Thomas is in net now, so it’s a different team than last year. It looks like this year, they’re on a mission, and that’s the way it felt when I saw them play against Philly. Philly’s a good team, and they beat them in four games. That means they’re a really good team.”
Including guys who played sparingly last year in rookies Brad Marchand and Adam McQuaid, eight of the Bruins’ regulars as they enter Game 1 of the conference finals were newcomers to the lineup this year. Yet while the emergence of guys like Marchand and the addition of Nathan Horton have been massive for the B’s, the biggest change for them involves a guy who was around last year in Thomas. At least that’s the way Gagne sees it.
“Last year, Tuukka Rask was actually playing really, really good for them,” Gagne said of the youngster who started every game between the pipes for the Bruins last postseason. “Everybody thought that he was going to be the goalie for the future for Boston. I think he’s still their goalie of the future — I don’t think he’s going to go anywhere — but to see Thomas coming back after a tough season last year with injuries, to see him play like that surprised a lot of people, but at the same time, he was good before he got hurt. It shouldn’t be a surprise to see him playing that good.”
The Bruins and Thomas will hope to continue their “mission” Saturday night, while Gagne just hopes he can continue to feed his reputation of postseason Bruins-killer.
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