BOSTON — It takes Boston Bruins netminder Tim Thomas a little time to take the temperature of his goaltending-tandem partner to know when to back off and when to say something in order to get his fellow puck-stopper psyched or focused.
Thomas has known rookie Tuukka Rask since two summer ago when both were part of a camp with goaltending coach Bob Essensa. So Thomas is already able to get a vibe from the youngster filling in for Thomas’ usual partner in puck-stopping Manny Fernandez. That’s why the veteran stood back and let Rask do his own thing today leading up to and during a 1-0 shutout of the New York Rangers at TD Banknorth Garden.
“I actually stayed away from him; he seemed to be in the right state of mind and I didn’t want to get him to start thinking,” Thomas said after the game. “He didn’t seem to be over-thinking or overexcited or nervous. He seemed to be in the right place.
“You don’t want to overexcite him either. You don’t want him thinking this is the biggest game in the history of hockey because truthfully it’s not and you’ve just got to go out and approach it like any other game.”
While he never wants to miss a start, Thomas needed a night off after starting eight straight Bruins games plus playing a period and overtime of the All-Star Game. And he enjoyed watching the future of the Bruins’ goaltending situation perform in front of his eyes.
“It’s interesting to watch young kids play because I try to put myself in their shoes when I was their age,” Thomas said. “Although I didn’t develop as late as everybody seems to talk about, I don’t think I would’ve been able to play at this level at age 21.”