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Bruins notebook

Thomas soaks in the sights

Goaltender’s memories stirred in Lake Placid

Trading his goaltender’s attire for street clothes, the Bruins’ Tim Thomas takes a brief spin around the ice at the US Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. Trading his goaltender’s attire for street clothes, the Bruins’ Tim Thomas takes a brief spin around the ice at the US Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. (Jim Davis/Globe Staff)
By Fluto Shinzawa
Globe Staff / April 20, 2011

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LAKE PLACID, N.Y. — In 1995-96, when Tim Thomas was a junior at the University of Vermont, he went to Lake Placid for the first time, for the ECAC Championships. Although Thomas, Martin St. Louis, and the Catamounts advanced to the Frozen Four that year, they didn’t fare as well in Lake Placid. Cornell won the ECAC tournament.

“Kind of a blur,’’ Thomas recalled. “We came in, played, then left. I didn’t get to see much of the town or too much of the arena.’’

Yesterday, a day after the Bruins’ 4-2 win over Montreal in Game 3 of their playoff series, Thomas could relax and soak in the town where his countrymen made history. In 1980, Thomas was 5 years old, following the Olympics from his Flint, Mich., home.

Before those Winter Games, Thomas had an idea that he wanted to be an Olympic goalie. After watching Jim Craig backstop the Yanks to gold, Thomas’s career aspirations were cemented.

“I already had some inkling that I wanted to be a goalie,’’ Thomas said. “Jim Craig sealed the deal. That’s why I became a goalie. My goal, from age 5 until really 20, was to play in the Olympics, not the NHL. Not that I didn’t want to play in the NHL. But the main goal was the Olympics.’’

Thomas lived out his Olympic dream last year. In Vancouver, he backed up Ryan Miller. Upon the conclusion of the Olympics, Thomas returned to Boston, where he settled in as Tuukka Rask’s No. 2.

Not so this year. Thomas will be the Bruins’ go-to goalie for the rest of this playoff run, whether that lasts only two more starts or extends beyond Game 5. Thomas proved himself late in Monday’s game. After allowing two goals that were softer than duvets at the Four Seasons, Thomas went into shutdown mode. In the final five minutes, he denied Andrei Kostitsyn, Scott Gomez, and Mathieu Darche.

“Two things,’’ said Thomas. “One, I think, is experience. I’ve let in a lot of goals that made me look bad over the course of a career.

“No. 2, it forces you to raise your game and make up for mistakes. If you’re a defenseman and you give up a giveaway that ends up as an important goal, you want to play even better to make up for that. If you’re a forward that doesn’t score on a big opportunity at a big point of the game, you want to come back the next shift and get that goal.

“As a goalie, if you let in a goal that makes the game tighter than it should, you have to bear down and make sure you make up for it.’’

Pouliot skates Although the NHL reviewed the play, Montreal’s Benoit Pouliot was not disciplined for his hit late in Monday’s first period on Johnny Boychuk. While Boychuk was engaged with Ryan White near the end boards, Pouliot left his skates, jumped in, and delivered a high hit on the Boston defenseman. Pouliot was whistled for charging. As he skated away, Andrew Ference stood up for Boychuk and challenged the Montreal forward. After getting in Pouliot’s face, Ference made sure his combatant wiggled his gloves off first. Ference and Pouliot were called for fighting. Earlier this season, Pouliot decked David Krejci in the mouth with a straight right. “From what I saw, it looked like a really dangerous hit,’’ Ference said. “A hit like that, especially on your partner, you want to at least have some answer for it. I didn’t want to drop the gloves without being 100 percent that he was going to as well.’’

Calder candidates The NHL announced yesterday that Carolina’s Jeff Skinner, San Jose’s Logan Couture, and the Islanders’ Michael Grabner were the finalists for the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year. Brad Marchand had made a spirited push for consideration. In 77 games, Marchand had 21 goals and 20 assists for 41 points, ninth-most among rookies. Skinner (31-32—63), Couture (32-24—56), and Grabner (34-18—52) were the top three first-year scorers. Skinner, a minor league teammate of Tyler Seguin in Toronto, was the seventh overall pick in 2010. The Bruins had a chance to draft Couture in 2007. Instead, they took Zach Hamill with the No. 8 pick. One slot later, San Jose selected Couture. Grabner was originally a first-round pick of Vancouver in 2006. Last June 25, the Canucks traded Grabner to Florida in a package for Keith Ballard and Victor Oreskovich. On Oct. 3, Florida inexplicably placed Grabner on waivers, and the Islanders claimed him two days later. Also missing the cut was P.K. Subban. The Montreal defenseman, one of the standout players in the first round of the playoffs, had 14 goals and 24 assists while averaging 22:16 of ice time. Subban trailed only Natick’s John Carlson in average workload.

Light duty Most of the Bruins stayed off the ice yesterday. Instead, they went through off-ice workouts. Of the players who dressed for Game 3, only Rask, Daniel Paille, Shawn Thornton, and Adam McQuaid skated alongside the healthy scratches and Black Aces . . . NESN earned a 10.7 rating for Game 3, the network’s highest-rated Bruins playoff match that was not a Game 7 . . . The NHL and NBC announced a 10-year TV deal yesterday. As part of the deal, NBC and Versus will remain exclusive network carriers during the regular season and playoffs.

Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at fshinzawa@globe.com.

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