Bruins’ Thomas more focused on saves, wins than critiques

Thomas/By S. Bradley

BOSTON — It took just 5:31 for Brad Marchand to get the Bruins on the board first in tonight’s Game 6 of the Stanley Cup Final.

The rookie winger sniped a shot from the right side of the right dot past Roberto Luongo to the short side.

Given Luongo’s recent comments about Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas’ inability to stop Maxim Lapierre’s goal in Game 5 Friday night, it would’ve only been fair for Thomas to offer his assessment of Luongo’s play. But the presumed Vezina Trophy winner passed on the chance to opine on his counterpart.

“No, I’m not going to go there,” said Thomas after he beat the Canucks, 5-2, with a 36-save performance. “I would prefer to focus on the fact that Marshy made a great shot and came up big for us and got that first goal that helped lead us to a victory.”

The victory pushes the Canucks to a Game 7 Wednesday in Vancouver. Thomas was at his best all night, especially early on when that first goal could’ve turned the game in Vancouver’s favor.

After Thomas saved them early, the Bruins then supported him. They chased Luongo with a third goal 8:35 into the game and then expanded the lead to 4-0 at the 9:45 mark against back-up Cory Schneider. Even the 4-0 lead, however, didn’t take the red-hot netminder off his game.

“A little bit [I change my approach] but not a lot, because, you know, getting that fourth goal was a big goal. A 3-0 lead, we had bad experiences with in the past, even during the regular season a couple of times this year,” admitted Thomas. “So that was big, but I didn’t want to relax because I didn’t want to give them any confidence and let them feel like they were going to get back into the game.

“Part of you relaxes, but part of you is like, telling yourself not to relax. It’s kind of an inner battle. It’s human nature and the tendency to start conserving energy starts to kick in and you have to fight against that.”

Now Tim Thomas, a 37-year-old from Flint, Mich., who didn’t become a No. 1 netminder in this league until his mid-30s, is going to play in a winner-take-all game for the Stanley Cup. It doesn’t sound like the enormity of the situation is getting to him.

“You know, I’m very happy to be here and very happy to have this opportunity,” said Thomas. “I’m going to try to embrace that opportunity and take the same attitude that I’ve taken throughout the whole playoffs. And, you know, hopefully that will get me through that one last game to get to the goal that we’ve been shooting for all year long.”

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