There is no question that Tim Thomas played a significant role in the Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run. After all, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP. But over time the narrative has become that Thomas was the major reason the Bruins won, or even the only reason.
So, when it was suggested that some believe the Bruins wouldn’t have won the Cup without Thomas, coach Claude Julien started with, “Well, they’re right.”
Then he continued.
“But Tim Thomas doesn’t win the Stanley Cup if our team doesn’t play as well as it did in front of him. This is an honest statement.
“Tim played well, but I think our team played just as well in front of him. You don’t win the Stanley Cup just with a goaltender. He won the Conn Smythe because he was very good, but at the same time I would like to hope that the statistics of your goaltenders can also reflect the team in front of you. We did a pretty good job in front of him for years minimizing the goal-scoring chances and the quality of it.
“So, let’s make sure we don’t take away credit from the rest of the team, too. He was a big part of it, and so was a lot of other guys. But at the same time, we won the Stanley Cup because we were a good team. That’s what I’d like to think, anyways.”
Thomas had a .940 save percentage with a 1.98 goals-against average with four shutouts in 25 playoff games that year, and won the Vezina Trophy for a regular season in which he had a .938 save percentage and 2.00 GAA.
Thomas had a .967 save percentage against the Canucks in the Final, and threw a shutout in Game 7 in Vancouver.
But he also played with Zdeno Chara and Dennis Seidenberg (among others) in front of him as a part of a shutdown Bruins defense that, Julien believes, deserves credit for the series win.
Thomas did not play against the Bruins on Thursday night — he remains on injured reserve (groin) — and did not speak to the media after taking part in the Panthers’ morning skate.
But he showed his face in the third period. The Bruins showed a video tribute to Thomas on the Jumbotron, followed by a shot of him in the press box. The crowd stood and gave him an ovation, and Thomas responded with a wave.
He later told the Miami Herald, “Great to be back at the Garden, great to be back in Boston. I was hoping for that kind of reaction from the fans.”
He got it from his former teammates, too.
Chris Kelly said he also clapped, adding, “Timmy was an important part of this team before I came, and obviously the Cup year. It was nice for the fans to give him that reception.”
Thomas was in net against the Bruins in their only previous meeting this season, surrendering a goal by Reilly Smith in the final minute that gave the Bruins the 3-2 victory. Thomas has a 2-3 record, .905 save percentage, and 3.11 GAA in six games after returning from a year away from hockey.
Kelly was the victim of a blatant elbow to the chin from Florida’s Jesse Winchester early in the first period. Kelly went down to the ice, got up slowly, and skated off to the dressing room.
Winchester was not penalized, but Gregory Campbell did his best to avenge his teammate by taking on Winchester not long after.
Asked what he thought of the elbow, Kelly said, “I don’t know. It hurt.”
He said he did not get a chance to look at the replay.
“I know Jesse Winchester, we played together,” Kelly said. “He’s probably one of the nicest guys in hockey, so I’m sure it wasn’t intentional. That being said, awesome that Soup steps up for me and goes out there and takes care of business.”
Julien was not nearly as charitable, saying, “I don’t know what the league is going to do with it, and we’re kind of thankful he came back and was only gone for a few minutes. Those are the kind of things that are dangerous in our game.”
Patrice Bergeron also spent time in the dressing room, after a puck struck him in the right eye in the second period. He was back on the ice for the start of the third period. After the game, the eye was swollen and red. “I was trying to have a good stick on the guy and he tried to shoot it. It deflected off my stick and I got it right in the eye,” Bergeron said. “At first my eye was a little blurry, but it got back, so it’s good.” . . . Torey Krug scored his sixth goal of the season at 8:57 of the third, tying him with Erik Karlsson of the Senators for tops among defensemen. “That’s what we talked about for years now, that we needed some guys who could carry the mail, as we say, and jump into plays,” said Julien. “He did a good job again tonight. He seems to find the right times to jump in and get some opportunities.” . . . Julien switched up the defensive pairings in the second period, putting Chara with Dougie Hamilton and Seidenberg with Johnny Boychuk. Both pairings were back to normal at the start of the third . . . The game marked the first time in seven games that the Bruins led in shots on goal, landing 30 on Scott Clemmensen. Tuukka Rask saw 24, making 23 stops . . . The only Bruins on ice in the morning — the skate was optional — were defenseman Matt Bartkowski, forward Jordan Caron, and backup goaltender Chad Johnson. Come game time, Bartkowski and Caron were the healthy scratches.Amalie Benjamin can be reached at email@example.com. Follow her on Twitter @amaliebenjamin.