MONTREAL — Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas is going to face two giant challenges in the Gatorade NHL Elimination Shootout that will conclude the 2009 Honda/NHL SuperSkills Saturday night at Bell Centre.
One of those challenges came through the luck of the draw and one he brought on himself by choice.
Prior to the Eastern Conference All-Stars’ media availability, Thomas and fellow All-Star goaltenders J.S. Giguere (Anaheim), Niklas Backstrom (Minnesota) and Henrik Lundqvist (NY Rangers) randomly picked up pucks with the names of All-Star shooters on the underside to set up the match-ups for the shootout. In the midst of the draw, Thomas selected Washington super-sniper Alexander Ovechkin and threw his head back with an ‘oh my’ type of reaction.
When the draw was over, the goaltenders were allowed one trade. Thomas agreed to swap Atlanta’s Ilya Kovalchuk for Montreal’s Alexei Kovalev.
“I figured Boston-Montreal, what would the fans like?” Thomas explained.
However, Thomas didn’t try to trade Ovechkin.
“I was excited to keep Ovechkin because my dad and brother, he’s one of their favorite players,” said the Bruins’ two-time All-Star netminder. “Plus after the move he did last year, he’s on every commercial. Maybe if you’re the goalie in that, you get in the commercial too.”
For his part, the Russian superstar is looking forward to facing Thomas.
“I know a couple things about Thomas,” said Ovechkin, whose premier event will be the ScotiaBank NHL Fan Fav Breakaway Challege (where he’ll get to do tricks). “Probably I’m going to talk to him because I need a little help. So it’s going to be probably a cool time.”
Bruins center Marc Savard will face Backstrom.
“I’ve got a couple on him this year, so that might help,” said Savard, who lit the lamp twice against the Wild puck-stopper twice Oct. 11. “But it’s going to be tough. They’re all great goalies and it’s going to be tough shooting on them, that’s for sure.”
The third Bruins’ All-Star, defenseman Zdeno Chara, will be shooting against Henrik Lundqvist. Once in the regular season, Chara scored against the Rangers’ goaltender by pulling up and firing a slap shot. The Bruins’ captain, however, wouldn’t reveal his strategy for this time around.
“I don’t know what I’m going to do. I’m going to keep it simple,” he said.