Thomas won’t be doing splits in Bruins net this year
WILMINGTON - With training camp fast approaching, Tim Thomas has no need to look over his shoulder.
For the past few seasons, the Bruins have entered camp employing a tandem approach in net. This year, there is no question about splitting time with another goalie or going with the hot hand. With Manny Fernandez not re-signing and unproven players behind him, the path has been cleared for Thomas to be the go-to-guy between the pipes.
“I’m not going to approach this year any differently,’’ said Thomas after participating in Bob Essensa’s goalie camp yesterday at Ristuccia Arena. “Maybe I haven’t been in this position in the NHL, but I have in Sweden, Finland, and Providence and I had success there.’’
With the pressure of being the No. 1 guy, Thomas knows he has to do the same things that got him to this point.
“I have to keep on the same keel and drive as before,’’ he said. “If I change, then I’ll have to correct it.’’
Thomas is coming off his most productive season in the NHL. He won 36 games and sported a 2.10 goals-against average. He also shined in the playoffs, compiling a scant 1.85 GAA in 11 games. Thomas’s stellar performance earned him the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goalie.
“As far as the accolades go, last season will be tough to follow up,’’ he said. “I think you have to keep the team goals in mind. It all boils down to where we end up at the end of the season.’’
His performance also led to a hefty pay raise. Thomas inked a four-year, $20 million deal before the end of last season.
“I think I earned it, but the contract shouldn’t change my approach,’’ he said.
Thomas’s play also paved the way for an opportunity to realize a dream. Last month, Thomas participated in the USA Olympic camp in Illinois.
“It is a dream come true to be invited to the Olympic camp,’’ he said. “I would like to make it all the way to the Olympics.’’
Ryan Miller of Buffalo and Jonathan Quick of Los Angeles are his main competition for the Olympic roster, which will be revealed in late December.
Thomas has elevated his game from year to year. Now he will be counted on to keep the Bruins among the top dogs in the Eastern Conference and help them vie for their first Stanley Cup since 1972.
Two other Bruins made their way to the ice during an informal practice. Marco Sturm and Andrew Ference skated for nearly 45 minutes.
Both are coming off surgery. Sturm had an operation on his left knee to repair his anterior cruciate ligament and meniscus, while Ference had an abdominal hernia and a torn groin repaired.
“I feel great,’’ said Ference. “I worked out my core and everything feels strong.’’
Ference noted that his summer has been busy and it felt good to get back into the swing of things.
“It feels normal to be back on the ice and with the trainers and my teammates,’’ he said.
Milan Lucic participated in Essensa’s goalie camp along with Tuukka Rask, Kevin Regan, and a handful of minor leaguers. Though Essensa is the Bruins goaltending coach, the camp is unaffiliated with the team.