Don't go blaming Tim Thomas

Vancouver Canucks Alexandre Burrows goes around Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, while being chased...

Vancouver Canucks Alexandre Burrows goes around Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas, while being chased by Bruins Zdeno Chara during overtime action in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup Finals at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, June 4, 2011. Burrows would go on to score wrap-around for the winning goal. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI AGENCY)

Mike Zeisberger, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:10 AM ET

VANCOUVER - Live by the flop, die by the flop.

 

There was Tim Thomas, lying flat on his belly, looking like a beached orca - a skinny one of course - that had washed ashore at nearby Stanley Park.

 

This is how Timothy James Thomas plays. He dives. He guesses. He anticipates.

 

When he’s right, he looks spectacular.

 

When he’s wrong, he looks bad.

 

On this occasion, it was the latter.

 

And by the time he could regain his feet, Vancouver’s Alex Burrows had weaved past him, skated around the net, then scooped the puck across the goal line for the game-winning goal on Saturday night.

 

Outside on Granville Street, thousands of fans burst into celebration, the odd rube doing a Tim Thomas imitation by diving chest-first onto the sidewalk.

 

They probably felt a lot less pain than the Bruins goalie. And not just because the alcohol consumption had numbed their senses - and their bodies - when they plopped onto the concrete.

 

In the end, it would be easy to blame Thomas for putting himself out of position so early in overtime of a crucial game, one the Bruins ended up losing 3-2.

 

It would also be wrong.

 

This is the way Thomas plays. It is a style that has been good enough to lead the Bruins into the Stanley Cup final, a style that made Thomas a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.

 

No, this was a team loss.

 

An unacceptable one.

 

Again.

 

Any National Hockey League coach will tell you that allowing a goal in either the first or last minute of a period is shinny suicide. We’re sure Bruins bench boss Claude Julien agrees.

 

Keeping that in mind, just imagine how frustrated the Boston braintrust of Julien, Cam Neely and Peter Chiarelli must be when, during their coast-to-coast flight from Vancouver to Boston on Sunday morning, they contemplate that their team committed those no-no’s in back-to-back games.

 

In Game 1 on Wednesday, they allowed a goal to Raffi Torres with only 19 seconds left in regulation to suffer a heartwrenching 1-0 defeat.

 

Just 72 hours later, they were gutted again, this time when Burrows scored just 11 seconds into overtime.

 

How can a team with Stanley Cup aspirations implode like this at crunch time?

 

Again.

 

“Burrows wound up for a slapshot and I tried to stay with him,” Thomas explained. “He went around the net and put it in.

 

“It is what it is.”

 

What it is, if you haven’t already figured it out, is a 2-0 deficit for the Bruins in a series that now shifts back to Boston for Game 3 on Monday.

 

Two losses that could very easily have been wins had the Bruins not cracked.

 

“Both losses have been by one goal,” Thomas said. “It’s frustrating. But we were the ones who made the mistakes and they resulted in losses.”

 

Thomas was asked if the manner in which the Bruins went down to defeat in two consecutive games would affect the team.

 

“In one way, it doesn’t really matter,” Thomas said. “On the other hand we have to realize we were right there.

“We have not been down by two games since we lost the first two at home to Montreal in the first round. At least now we are going home. In that series, we went on the road.

 

“We have to look at how we won Game 3 of the Montreal series and use it as a blue print.”

 

Across the sombre Bruins dressing room from Thomas was local B.C. boy Milan Lucic, the scorer of one of Boston’s two goals. In trying to explain how the Bruins blew a 2-1 third-period lead, he said the puck seemed to be bouncing every time it got near a Boston stick down the stretch.

 

“But we can’t make excuses,” Lucic said.

 

Indeed, they didn’t make any when they blew a 3-0 series lead en route to losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in the 2010 playoffs.

 

Nor did they make any when they dropped the first two games at home to the Habs in the first round back in April.

 

This time around, they have no grounds for any either.

 

They are all to blame.

 

 


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