Tim Thomas has developed split goaltending personalities, a common side effect found in goalies who primarily find their success by flopping with style. Not to be confused with Buzz Lightyear, who fell with style.
First there’s the brilliantly magnificent Thomas whose 2.00 GAA and .938 save percentage led the league in the regular season. This guy is a cool dude, and whenever he comes around the Bruins win games. He posts shutouts sometimes too (two this post-season, and nine during the regular season), and his ability to seamlessly control the constant chaos with his sprawling style leads to amazing acrobatic saves.
We’ve come to know the good Thomas quite well now that we’re in June and watching hockey games in our sandals. When the good Thomas flops, he flops with a purpose. There’s a certain method to his unorganized approach that generally just consists of a lot of falling. But it works, so we shrug our shoulders, applaud the save, and wait for the next one.
However, there are rare occasions when Thomas’ evil twin emerges, a sinister soul whose prime purpose is to make the Bruins goalie look like a bumbling fool for a few fleeting seconds. We’ve heard this guy is a real jerk who doesn’t pay bar tabs, and we very much prefer the other Thomas who resembles a trapeze artist teetering on the edge of falling, but always hanging on.
That jerk surfaced twice tonight, once when Alex Burrows opened the scoring in the first period, and then again just 11 seconds into overtime when Burrows scored his second and most important goal of the night.
Andrew Ference’s poor pass led to the giveaway and the odd man rush. But Ference’s mistake was compounded when Thomas was unnecessarily aggressive.
Burrows was streaking in, and he very well could have picked a corner had Thomas stayed in his net. But Zdeno Chara was forcing Burrows wide and was pestering him enough to make getting a quality shot off difficult. If Thomas cuts the angle but stays a bit deeper his crease, this likely ends as a dangerous looking but relatively harmless rush to start an overtime period. Instead he needlessly flopped at Burrows and whiffed, leaving a wide-open cage for the game-winner.
For Burrows the goal was his ninth of the playoffs, and it now seems like a really long time ago when he was struggling in the opening round with one goal in his first six games. He’s now one of the hottest Canuck forwards, and he has five goals and seven points over his last five games. Burrows’ heroics ended a night that began with the miraculous return of Manny Malhotra, who played sparingly (7:26 of ice time) as the fourth-line centre, but provided a vital morale boost with his mere presence.
Although Thomas’ crucial and ill-timed mistake will garner most of the attention after as this series transitions to Boston, he certainly doesn’t deserve the blame for the Bruins’ second straight late game demise. Boston’s lack of physicality should shoulder that blow, especially during the third period while the Canucks pressed for the tying goal.
Perhaps it’s time that we temporarily retire the long-held and cliched label that’s followed the Bruins around for the better half of the century (possible exaggeration). You know, the one that paints those black-and-gold bumblebee men as ferocious man-eaters who dream of hip checks. They still are the same brutish Bruins, but only when they chose to be, a habit that’s seen the team’s perceived size advantage dissipate at times in these playoffs, just as it did tonight. For most of this game the Canucks were the more physical team, and the Bruins defence demonstrated a glaring lack of foot-speed, most notably from Johnny Boychuk.
One major potential momentum-builder that the Bruins can take away from this game comes from the shred of success they experienced on the powerplay. After heading into the first intermission down by a goal, the Bruins scored two goals in less than three minutes midway through the second period, one of which was a powerplay goal by Mark Recchi. At 43 years and 123 days old, the ancient Recchi became the oldest player to score a goal in Stanley Cup Final history.
While we’re sifting through the dusty book of Stanley Cup Final stats and padding our bar trivia knowledge, how ’bout these apples:
If that doesn’t prove this game was historical, maybe the fact that Burrows’ winner was the second-fastest OT goal in Stanley Cup Final history will do it. Or maybe you need to see Maxim Lapierre trying to feed his finger to Patrice Bergeron…
Burrows’ scoring streak will only help his chances of scoring after the game. He’s quickly finding out that women actually like a good biter…
And if you’re still not convinced that there was some wild and crazy times in Vancouver tonight, here’s a bear in a Canucks jersey…
What did Twitter have to say about Game 2?
The picture of the latest in Canucks fan costume craziness was brought to you by Yahoo’s Sean Leahy.