WILMINGTON, Mass. — We can all see that Tim Thomas is a little worn out.
Even Bruins head coach Claude Julien conceded today that tiredness could be keeping the goatlender from playing in his usual Vezina Trophy-worthy form of late.
Thomas has lost three of his last four starts and allowed 15 goals over that period. He still leads the league in save percentage (.938) and goals-against average (2.02) but is no longer on his record-breaking pace of a couple weeks ago. He has appeared in 42 games for Boston, after playing in just 43 all of last season.
But after practice today at Ristuccia Arena, Thomas refused to take the easy way out and chalk up his tail-off off to tiredness.
“It doesn’t really matter how you feel. It’s the result you get in the game,” he said. “A couple games in a row now, as a team, we haven’t gotten the result we wanted. My job is to help us to get the result that we want. I haven’t been the difference-maker. Granted there’s bad luck, some good plays … but it is what it is.”
Those are the types of statements that make Thomas a great teammate. Some goaltenders might blame a coaching staff that’s overworking him or a defense corps that looks like it’s trying out to be matadors, but Thomas puts all the blame on himself.
Julien, however, reaffirmed his desire to get Tuukka Rask more playing time and preserve Thomas down the stretch of this season.
“I think that’s what we’re trying to do right now is trying to give Tuukka some playing time to give Timmy some rest. We don’t want to get to the point where he’s exhausted,” said the coach. “Is he a little tired? I would expect that he is, like a lot of players at this time of the year. February is usually a tough month and you kind of get your second wind in March. But this is something that I think we want to manage as well as we can. I don’t think he’s exhausted. I think he may be a little tired. As I’ve mentioned, it’d be nice to see Tuukka come in and play some solid games for us.”
There’s no grand plan for Thomas to regain his form of the first four months. He says he just has to go back to what was working before the recent rough patch.
“It just comes. It cycles throughout the season,” said Thomas. “You just try to keep on doing the things that gave you success and it’ll eventually put you on the right track to success.”