PHILADELPHIA — The final score of 7-3 might lead you to believe that Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas hardly had to sweat in his team’s Game 1 win in the Eastern Conference semifinal series with the Flyers at the Wells Fargo Center tonight.
However, even he admitted after the contest that there were some trying times.
“Well, I mean that was a good game and you usually do not have those type of leads in the playoffs, so it was nice, but we didn’t have that lead all game,” said Thomas, who finished with 31 saves. “It was still a playoff game and Philly is known for their comebacks even within games, so you have to be on your toes.”
In fact, the Flyers actually went on consecutive power plays midway through the second period while down 3-1. And early in the third, they climbed to within 5-3 after being down, 5-1.
Thomas had to stop James van Riemsdyk with a post-to-post save on a 2-on-1 when the game was 1-1. When it was 5-2, he benefited from a fortuitous bounce on a Mike Richards wrist shot that went off the goaltender’s glove and then darted just past the far past.
Richards got his revenge with the power-play goal 13:02 into the third that cut the lead to 5-3. He came out of the corner with the puck and rifled it past Thomas from the faceoff dot.
“Well, I was personally frustrated because we had just killed it off and the puck popped out front and I thought I played Richards really well,” said Thomas. “But [Claude] Giroux did a good job of crossing it the exact time he was shooting it, and I actually, even with the screen, still guessed right and it just grazed off my shoulder and hit the crossbar and it had to be a perfect shot. No one ever wants to get scored on and you don’t want to make it 5-3 even though that is still a good lead.”
That was the last goal to get past Thomas, who entered the game with a career 2.18 goals-against average against the Flyers. Thomas knows that history means little once the postseason starts, regardless of who you’re playing.
“You know it’s the playoffs, it’s a little bit like Montreal, except that it’s the opposite,” he said. “We struggle with Montreal, but it’s the playoffs and we have to find a way to get it done and even if you say I play so well against the Flyers, it doesn’t matter because each game you have to do it again. What you have done in the past, every game doesn’t matter because the next game, you start 0-0.”
The playoffs make the past irrelevant and make even the most lopsided scores in-game more difficult to defend than one would think.