Thomas taking unwarranted criticism now that Bruins are down 0-2

Thomas unmasked/By S. Bradley

Tim Thomas set a single-season record for save percentage this season and should take home his second Vezina Trophy in three years later this month.

He’s endured some ups and downs in the 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, but nonetheless carried the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup Final berth since 1990.

Yet now that the Bruins are down 0-2 to Vancouver in the best-of-seven series, with Game 3 scheduled for Boston’s TD Garden Monday, he’s supposed to change the way he plays.

So says many attending media members who probably haven’t watched more than a handful of Bruins games all season and are still offended that an American who didn’t establish himself as No. 1 goaltender until his mid-30s could suddenly become the league’s most dominant netminder– even ahead of their precious Roberto Luongo and Carey Price.

After the Bruins dropped Game 2 Saturday night, everyone available in the Bruins’ dressing room was asked about Thomas’ style because he had come out to challenge Alex Burrows and was out of position on the goal. He’d left the blue paint a couple times earlier and was helped by the quick sticks of his defensemen preventing defensemen. In Game 1, he had drawn a penalty on Burrows from a couple feet out of the net.

Today the topic came up again, and he diplomatically shot the question down.

“No. I have a pretty good idea of how to play goalie. I’m not going to be taking suggestions or advice at this time,” he said with his Cheshire Cat grin prominently displayed. “I’m just going to keep playing the way I have.”

Thomas might’ve been on his stomach at the opposite post when Burrows scored the game-winning goal Saturday, but he was far from the biggest culprit in Boston’s losing of the third-period lead and then the game 11 seconds into overtime.

Andrew Ference and Zdeno Chara bear the brunt of the blame for that play, not to mention the plethora of other miscues.

When Thomas stopped Daniel Sedin’s breakaway and Jannik Hansen’s point-blank chance earlier in the game, no one was criticizing his style. When he was shutting out Tampa Bay in a Game 7 and winning an overtime thriller in Game 7 against Montreal in the first round, no one asked him if he should stay in his crease.

It’s amazing how perceptions can change just by introducing some fresh eyes and putting a player on the game’s biggest stage.

If this Bruins lose this series in four games, or more, Tim Thomas and his style will be way down the list of reasons why. He has the record and the highlight-reel saves to prove that.

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