Make us your home page
Instagram

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tampa Bay Lightning faces unpredictable style of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas

TAMPA — The usual process when trying to find holes in an opposing goaltender's game is to study video to evaluate tendencies and quirks.

But when it comes to solving Tim Thomas, video doesn't provide many clues. The Bruins goalie, Lightning players and coaches said Monday at the St. Pete Times Forum, is so unconventional he doesn't have a style to critique.

"An enigma," coach Guy Boucher said.

"He could do one thing on one shot and the next play it's going to be exactly the same shot and he's going to do something else," left wing Simon Gagne said. "He's really tough to understand."

And so good, Gagne said, the Lightning's "biggest challenge" in the Eastern Conference final will be to "stop Thomas."

"We could play amazing and he could stone us," Boucher said. "We're expecting him to be what he is — outstanding."

Thomas, 37, who actually was in Lightning training camp before the 1999-2000 season, which he spent with Detroit of the old International Hockey League, has been just that.

The Flint, Mich., native is the favorite to win the Vezina Trophy as the league's top regular-season goalie after going 35-11-9 with an NHL record .938 save percentage, a league-best 2.00 goals-against average and a career-best nine shutouts.

His 2.03 goals-aga inst average in 11 playoff games and .937 save percentage are second in the postseason to Tampa Bay's Dwayne Roloson.

"What I like about Tim right now is he is very confident," Bruins coach Claude Julien told Boston reporters. "He seems very calm as well, not overly busy in net. But when he is busy, it's because he's making a big save."

So, how do you solve an enigma?

"It's hard," Lightning center Vinny Lecavalier said. "You don't really know his tendencies because he's, I don't want to say he's all over the place, but he's just different. He always makes saves in different positions. The thing we know is he's very aggressive. We have to take advantage of that.

"You've got to make sure he can't come out as much as he does and have guys in front of the net. It comes down to putting the puck in the (crease) and plugging away in there and have some sticks in there and more than one guy. It comes down to having screens and making sure we have guys there."

In other words, center Dominic Moore said, "We have to focus on our mentality and not focus too much on his style, per se. Just do what we need to do to get pucks in there and rebounds."

For Thomas, 10-4-0 against the Lightning with a 2.26 goals-against average and .930 save percentage, the worry is Tampa Bay's transition game.

"They'll counterattack," he said. "They'll attack off the rush if they get the opportunity. If all else fails, the pretty plays, they'll get the puck to the net. They have guys who will crash the net."

That is when Thomas' athleticism and competitiveness will come into play.

"It's his battle level," said Lightning wing Marty St. Louis, Thomas' teammate from 1993 to 1997 at the University of Vermont. "He's got his own style. He's unpredictable. You don't know what he's going to do. But I know he's going to compete."

Which probably looks pretty good on video.

Damian Cristodero can be reached at [email protected]

Tampa Bay Lightning faces unpredictable style of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas 05/10/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, May 10, 2011 10:13am]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Matt Baker's takeaways from Florida State-Louisville

    College

    1. One of the many hard-to-believe stats about FSU's underperforming defense: DE Brian Burns led all freshmen nationally with 9 ½ sacks last year; his first one this season came midway through the second quarter Saturday.

    TALLAHASSEE, FL - OCTOBER 21: Quarterback Lamar Jackson #8 of the Louisville Cardinals runs the ball into the endzone for a touchdown during their game against the Florida State Seminoles at Doak Campbell Stadium on October 21, 2017 in Tallahassee, Florida. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images) 775042617
  2. Late fumble, field goal send Florida State to another loss

    College

    TALLAHASSEE — Florida State's streak of 35 consecutive bowl appearances is in serious jeopardy after a last-second 31-28 home loss to Louisville on Saturday.

    Louisville's Lamar Jackson gets past Florida State's Matthew Thomas to score in the first quarter of an NCAA college football game, Saturday, Oct. 21, 2017, in Tallahassee Fla. (AP Photo/Steve Cannon) FLSC102
  3. Bucs-Bills: Tampa Bay's fatal habit of falling behind

    Bucs

    TAMPA — Okay, all you road scholars, why do the Bucs keep falling behind in games not played at Raymond James Stadium?

    Arizona Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer (3) recovers a fumble during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz., on Sunday, Oct. 15, 2017.
  4. Nicked-up Lightning vs. Penguins tonight

    Blogs

     

  5. What we've learned from the Bucs' and Bills' playoff droughts

    Bucs

    Is it possible for the Buccaneers and Bills to be any farther off the NFL's radar? You get the feeling schedule-makers didn't think twice about putting this one down for 1 p.m. Sunday — the let's-hope-no-one-notices time slot.

    [LOREN ELLIOTT | Times]