Tim Thomas has made it almost a tradition to play in the third period in the All-Star Game. He was the third-period goalie in each of the last three games. This year, though, he will be between the pipes at the start.
Yesterday, Thomas was named the starter for the NHL All-Star Game, which will be played in Ottawa Jan. 29. Thomas led all goalies with 626,540 votes. Toronto’s James Reimer finished in second place with 498,076 votes.
Thomas, who backed up Tuukka Rask in the Bruins goal last night against the Flames, has a 17-6-0 record, a 1.90 goals-against average, and a .940 save percentage. He was most recently in goal for the Bruins’ 6-1 win over New Jersey Wednesday.
“It’s an honor to be the No. 1 vote-getter for a goalie,’’ Thomas said. “It hasn’t always been that way. I’ve been lucky enough to still have been on the three previous to this. This is a little different scenario. All I can say is that I’m happy about it.’’
Ottawa’s Milan Michalek, Jason Spezza, Daniel Alfredsson, and Erik Karlsson will be starters, along with Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf.
“It’s an honor for him to be voted as a starter - well-deserved,’’ said coach Claude Julien of Thomas. “Unless there’s any reason for him not to go, I’m very supportive of him going.
“It’s a thrill to be there. It’s enjoyable. We’ll find him rest in other places, because we have the luxury of having a great goaltender in Tuukka that can certainly handle more games than he’s been given.’’
Thomas and Rask have been the league’s stingiest netminding duo. Statistically, Thomas and Rask (9-4-1, 1.49, .949) are in a virtual dead heat. Rask can make a case to be in Ottawa as well. He has been an ideal No. 2 to Thomas, who projects to be most effective with approximately 55 regular-season starts.
“A lot of No. 1 goaltenders end up with more games, but Timmy’s OK with that,’’ Julien said. “Age-wise, he understands that when we can utilize him in that way, he can probably last longer and his career can last longer.
“Second of all, it keeps him fresh and better when he’s in net. All the things we’re doing with regard to our goaltending decisions are all positive for the individuals and the team. It’s a non-issue.’’
The NHL’s hockey operations department will name the rest of the All-Stars later this month. Zdeno Chara and Patrice Bergeron are candidates to make the cut. Like last year, captains will select their rosters. The fantasy draft will take place Jan. 26. Last season, former Bruin Phil Kessel was the last player drafted.
Who’s No. 1?
Calgary has a clear-cut No. 1 line: whatever trio includes Jarome Iginla. Same with Vancouver, Boston’s next opponent: Alex Burrows, Henrik Sedin, and Daniel Sedin.
Not so with the Bruins. And that’s not a bad thing.
Last year, Milan Lucic, David Krejci, and Nathan Horton were the first-liners that drew the attention of top defensive pairings and shutdown threesomes. This year, it’s not so simple.
Because Krejci, the line’s catalyst, struggled early, opposing coaches set their top dogs loose against Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and Tyler Seguin. For example, Phoenix coach Dave Tippett deployed his top line of Ray Whitney, Daymond Langkow, and Shane Doan against Bergeron’s unit Dec. 28.
But now that Krejci is settling into an offensive rhythm (four goals and seven assists in his last seven games), the Czech and his Krechmates could be seeing more heat. That suits Julien, who is emphasizing balance.
Last night, all four lines scored goals.
“You don’t see too many of our players in the top 20 or 30 in league scoring,’’ Julien said. “It proves we have depth and scoring from everywhere. Not just from one line or a couple players. It comes from everywhere.
“That creates a threat for other teams and some indecision on who you try to shut down. With our team, if you shut one line out, the other does damage. That’s what I like about our hockey club - that possibility of anybody being able to score on any different night.’’
No room for elbow
Calgary was missing Rene Bourque last night, as the forward began serving a five-game suspension for elbowing Washington’s Nicklas Backstrom in the head Tuesday. Bourque has 13 goals and three assists . . . With Benoit Pouliot promoted to Bergeron’s line because of Marchand’s absence, Zach Hamill skated on the third line with Chris Kelly and Rich Peverley . . . The benefit of back-to-back laughers: reduced workloads for go-to players. In Wednesday’s 6-1 thumping of New Jersey, Chara played only 21:48. Last night, Chara was on for only 20:32 . . . Chara recorded his 300th career assist on the first of Horton’s two goals . . . Iginla (one shot) remains one strike away for 500 career goals. “You’d be hard-pressed to find anybody in the league that doesn’t have the utmost respect for him, the way he plays the game, the way he carries himself,’’ said former teammate Andrew Ference. “Guys don’t say that lightly around the league. To have that kind of praise from people you compete with on a night-in, night-out basis speaks volumes. He’s earned it.’’ . . . Steven Kampfer was the Bruins’ healthy scratch . . . The Bruins have a plus-69 goal differential to lead the NHL. Detroit is second at plus-40 . . . Calgary’s Chris Butler was on the ice for eight goals (minus-7).
Rosa dies at 91
Former Globe sportswriter Francis Rosa, who covered the Bruins for many years, died Wednesday at his home in Lexington after a brief illness. He was 91. Rosa, who also was evening sports editor of the Globe, was honored by the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1987 with the Elmer Ferguson Memorial Award, considered the highest honor for a hockey writer. Rosa is survived by his wife Ruth, sons Francis Jr., Thomas, and John, and was predeceased by daughter Chris Farrah. Visiting hours will be at the Douglass Funeral Home at 51 Worthen Road in Lexington Sunday from 3-8 p.m., and the funeral Mass will be Monday at 10 a.m. at St. Brigid Parish, 2001 Massachusetts Avenue, Lexington.Fluto Shinzawa can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @GlobeFluto.