As pressure rises, Thomas maintains his stability
It takes a lot to rattle Bruins goalie Tim Thomas.
A snarky comment from the opposing goaltender? That won’t do it.
“My focus is on what I can do to help my team win going into Game 6 here,’’ Thomas said yesterday.
At the same time, Thomas is well aware of the media whirlwind surrounding Roberto Luongo. Thomas responded to a few of Luongo’s recent swipes, which included his saying that he wouldn’t have given up the winning goal in Game 5, on which Thomas was caught out of position. Luongo also has said Thomas lacks etiquette.
“I have been pumping his tires ever since the series started,’’ Luongo said before leaving Vancouver on Saturday. “I haven’t heard one nice thing he had to say about me. That’s the way it is.’’
Thomas deflected questions about that comment as deftly as he’s deflected shots all series, even drawing laughter from the media.
“I guess I didn’t realize it was my job to pump his tires,’’ Thomas said. “I guess I have to apologize for that.’’
Thomas appeared calm throughout yesterday’s press conference, only fidgeting when he knocked over his nameplate. The Luongo questions didn’t appear to bother him and neither did inquiries about how he planned on handling the pressure of playing in the biggest game of his career.
“The first thing I do is not think about the millions and millions of people that are watching,’’ Thomas said.
“It shouldn’t matter whether you have a packed building or are playing in an empty rink. You try to get the same focus that you had as a kid when you were out playing on the pond, and you’re just enjoying the game.’’
Thomas’s teammates haven’t noticed anything different about the goalie during the series, both on and off the ice.
“He’s definitely mentally strong,’’ center Gregory Campbell said. “I haven’t read the story or seen the [Luongo] quotes, but knowing Timmy, I don’t think it fazes him whatsoever. He’s really in his own little bubble and he’s a confident guy.
“He’s confident in how he plays, and why shouldn’t you be? He brought this team as far as we are, and he’s one of the best goalies — if not the best — in the NHL right now.’’
Considering Thomas has given up just six goals through the first five games of the Stanley Cup Final, it makes sense for the Bruins to credit their netminder.
“Timmy played unbelievable all season, all series, especially in this series,’’ defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. “We’re definitely happy to have him, and it’s been great. I wouldn’t change him for anybody else.’’
Thomas has been arguably the Bruins’ most valuable player throughout the series, and at the very least, their most consistent. He’s averaging 33 saves per game, and he gave the Bruins a fighting chance in Games 1, 2, and 5 in Vancouver, when the team mustered just two goals total.
None of the Bruins has commented about the play of specific Canucks throughout the series.
“We as a team feel that it’s more important to focus on the games at hand, and that’s the challenge we face now,’’ Campbell said. “Saying things isn’t what we want to do as a team. We have to let our actions speak.’’
Seidenberg added: “They can say whatever they want. It doesn’t really matter what they say. We are focused on our team.’’