Hate might not have been the right word selection when Bruins netminder Tim Thomas talked last week about trying to develop an intense rivalry with the Carolina Hurricanes during their Eastern Conference semifinal series. The type of rivalry that isn't inherent like in a series between the Bruins and Canadiens.
But after a night in which these two teams combined for 27 infractions for 83 penalty minutes, including 19 infractions in a chippy third period, maybe hate isn't too strong a word.
"When I say hate, I mean a healthy competition-type of hate, not the terrible hate," explained Thomas. "It's definitely building. Not for me, I'm a goalie. But to have stuff done to you, you want to retaliate, but you can't. That's playoff hockey. That's just hockey, period. You have to leave it in the hands of the referees"
The Bruins generally kept their composure Sunday, which helped the team emerge with a 4-0 triumph over the Hurricanes in Game 5 of this best-of-seven series. Carolina leads the series, 3-2, as the scene shifts back to North Carolina.
Thomas stopped all 19 shots he faced for his first career playoff shutout. It was the first Bruins postseason shutout since Andrew Raycroft blanked Montreal in a 3-0 triumph on April 7, 2004.
Thomas's effort may have helped take some of the pressure off the Bruins and the team wouldn't mind stuffing it in a bag for the Hurricanes to take back to Raleigh.
"Hopefully we shoveled some of the pressure onto them, too, and now we can share that pressure," said Thomas.
"All year long, whenever we faced adversity -- everyone uses (that word) -- but when our backs were against the wall, we responded well. Maybe not the next game, but very quickly. We have shown that we have character throughout the year. We have to show it now on the ice, when it matters."
And what about a little rivalry between Thomas and fellow netminder Cam Ward?
"I don't really pay attention to who is in the other end, it doesn't matter," said Thomas. "Cause I jsut have to take care of what I am taking care of. When it's down in the other end, I'm not watching what Ward's doing. I'm watching what we're doing and how we're positioned just in case there's a fast break I know whether it's going to be a 3-on-2 or a 4-on-3 and who got caught low."