The Canucks tried to get inside Tim Thomas’ head, complaining to the league and in the media about his play outside the crease. That has had no effect.
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They’ve tried to get inside that crease, crashing and bumping into the Bruins goalie at every chance. That’s only gotten Henrik Sedin leveled and Alex Burrows pounded on by the feisty netminder.
And they’ve tried to get pucks inside the net behind Thomas. That’s got them next to nothing. In two games in Boston, the Canucks have put 79 shots on goal. Thomas has allowed just one to get by him.
He stopped all 38 shots he faced Wednesday night as the Bruins took a 4-0 victory to even the Stanley Cup Final at two games apiece.
"I think Thomas has been great," Sedin said. "That’s the only thing. We got enough chances. Sometimes in series you get those bounces you need, but Thomas has been unbelievable. We need to find a way to solve him, that’s the only thing."
The Canucks captain not only hasn’t scored. He was the recipient of a Thomas check that leveled the Vancouver forward when he ventured into the crease in Game 3. He got off lucky.
On Wednesday, Burrows crashed the net one too many times and received a slash across the back of the legs in response.
"We were up 4-0, the game was getting down toward the end, so I thought I’d give him a little love tap and let him know, ‘I know what you’re doing, but I’m not going to let you do it forever,’" Thomas said. "So, that’s all that was. It was a typical battle."
Burrows responded by cross-checking Thomas, and the two then started throwing punches and wrestling on the ice and the rest of the players piled in, much to the delight of the Garden crowd and amusement to Thomas’ teammates.
"It’s playoff hockey, stuff like that is going to happen every now and again," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said. "I’m sure the fans got a kick out of it, or they seemed to."
The rest of them certainly did.
"It’s always funny when somebody’s around Timmy’s net," Bruins winger Brad Marchand said. "He always does something hilarious like that. It’s great to see Timmy stick up for himself."
And Thomas definitely seems to enjoy getting in the odd tussle.
"I think he enjoys that," Boston defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "He loves to battle and loves a confrontation. He loves the physical play, as you saw the last couple of games. I don’t think it bothers him a bit."
The Bruins, meanwhile, are most happy just to have Thomas behind them, whether he’s stopping pucks or throwing punches.
"Well, it’s indicative of the way he’s had to battle to get here, No. 1," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "Anybody that knows the story of Tim Thomas, he’s taken a real bumpy road to get to the NHL. He’s had so many obstacles in front of him that he’s overcome, it makes him a battler, it makes him the perfect goaltender for our organization because that’s what we are. We’re a blue-collar team that goes out and works hard and earns every inch of the ice that you can get.
"Tim fits in well in regards to that," Julien added. "Again, the way he battles, he never quits on any pucks, even to the point where he can let a bad goal in every once in a while or a couple in a game, and you know that when the game is on the line he’s going to be standing on his head again because he battles through it."