VANCOUVER – The Canucks were able to solve Tim Thomas for the lone goal of Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final last night, but it seems they still want to try to get into his head.
With the way Vancouver’s been talking about Thomas’ tendency to leave the blue paint, you’d think he was the first goaltender to throw off the chains and roam the Earth beyond the crease.
“I mean 90 percent of his saves are where he’s outside the blue paint,” said Canucks head coach Alain Vigneault today during a day off for both teams. “A lot of times he does initiate contact. That’s the way he plays. [Vancouver’s] Roberto [Luongo] played sort of the same way last year. We got in trouble because of that. We fixed that this year. We said [Wednesday] night that we were going to look to get a little bit of clarification on certain situations. We’re sure it was going to be fine. We’re going to do that here in the next couple of days.”
It seems the Canucks are sour over a penalty called against Alexandre Burrows when he dropped Thomas in the second period. In the process of complaining about that call, they might also be trying to get someone to prevent Thomas from doing the things that helped him become the Vezina Trophy favorite this season.
“I don’t think I drew that many penalties this playoffs. Yesterday the one on [Burrows], I went to make the first stop, then the puck was going off to the side. I was retreating back to the center of my net, felt resistance behind my leg, and I was actually just going with it. I was going to basically flip around, flip my body around, to be able to at least have a chance to stop that rebound that went to the side of the net.
“You know, I don’t know. I just play my game. It’s not always in the blue. Sometimes it is. You got to do what you got to do.”
Bruins head coach Claude Julien doesn’t see a problem with the way his goaltender plays.
“I mean, if he gets a chance to challenge, he challenges. The rule is pretty clear. You’re entitled to your ice,” said the coach. “If he steps out and he’s got that ice, he’s entitled to it. That’s what he’s done through the whole process.
“Now, we all know that goaltenders are to be protected. If you’re going to say he’s out of his crease, he’s fair game. That should be the same thing behind the net. I think the league has ruled that the goaltenders need to be protected. If he’s entitled to his ice, and he’s got it, then afterwards I don’t think people are entitled to run over those guys. If Luongo comes out of his net, he’s got his ice, it’s his, it belongs to him. The rule to me is pretty clear so I don’t see any issues there.”
It might be clear to Julien, but it still seems a little blurry to Vancouver star Henrik Sedin.
“That’s his game. He’s always played like that,” said the Canucks captain about Thomas. “I think if you look at [Burrows’] call [Wednesday], he’s a couple feet outside of the crease. I think it’s something the referees know. They know a lot of times when there’s contact, he’s outside the crease, so that’s not a penalty. Like I said, I think the guys in stripes, they talk about that. They know what’s going on. It’s not going to be a problem for us.”
We’ll see Saturday what the referees’ interpretation of the matter is because Thomas isn’t likely to change the style that got him to this point any time soon.