Mind games won't work with Thomas

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas plays against the Canucks during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final in...

Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas plays against the Canucks during Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final in Boston, Mass., June 6, 2011. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)

CHRIS STEVENSON, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 6:16 PM ET

VANCOUVER - Maybe Vancouver Canucks defenceman Kevin Bieksa is trying to get into the kitchen of Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas.

The Canucks tried physically putting Thomas off his game.

Ask Alex Burrows how that worked out.

After the Canucks agitator tapped Thomas's stick, Thomas slashed him and exchanged punches, making it clear there will be a price to be paid to get into his kitchen and the crease.

So now Bieksa has pulled out the psychological version of crashing the blue paint.

When asked if the Canucks were making life hard enough for Thomas -- his shutout in Game 4 evened the series 2-2 going into Game 5 Friday night -- Bieska said no, then went on to describe Thomas' body of work in these playoffs as "leaky."

Leaky? Describing Thomas as leaky, especially after he gave up one goal on 79 shots in the two games in Boston, is like saying it's dry in Vancouver during the winter months.

It simply doesn't reflect reality.

But this is the Stanley Cup playoffs, where belief must often be suspended in favour of whatever edge might be gained.

The fact is, Thomas has taken over this series and the city. In a town with Paul Pierce, Tom Brady and Big Pappy, Thomas, ever smiling, has grabbed a corner of the pedestal.

The blue-collar Bruins fans loved his exchange with Burrows and a few moments later, when a picture of him in repose, his left arm draped over the top of the net as it often is during a break in the action, they gave him a prolonged ovation.

His teammates liked seeing Thomas get into it with Burrows, too.

Winger Brad Marchand has been on the receiving end in the past -- Thomas went after his teammate last fall.

"It's always funny when somebody gets around Timmy's net. He always does something hilarious like that. It's great seeing Timmy sticking up for himself," said Marchand. "He did it to me in training camp. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know what he was doing. I thought he was mad at me and I was pretty surprised."

There might not be a star in the NHL right now who better connects with the fans of his team than Thomas, a down-to-Earth guy who has had to work for everything he's gotten. He's an Everyman from hardscrabble Flint, Mich., who fights his own battles and embodies the values of Bostonians.

It is a one-way love affair right now, however, as Thomas has put himself into his own coccoon during the playoffs.

He has been spending time with his family, hanging out by the pool and doing little else except helping the Bruins claw their way back into the Stanley Cup final.

"I've been so focused on playing the playoffs that I'm a little bit removed from what's happening inside the city right now," said Thomas. "I felt that was the best way to approach these playoffs and the final. The best way to keep my feet on the ground is to kind of isolate myself. That's what I've kind of done. I've staying away from reading the media and watching the media and stuff like that."

Even Thomas' young son, Keegan, has been put off to a certain extent.

"My little boy is trying to get me to play hockey," said Thomas after Game 4, drawing laughter. "I'm like, 'I'm a little bit too tired, wait 'til this summer.'"

With his performances in Games 3 and 4, Thomas made sure the arrival of summer for the Thomas clan, the Bruins and the city's hockey fans has been put off at least until Tuesday.

Little Keegan Thomas will have to be patient.

chris.stevenson@sunmedia.ca

twitter.com/CJ_Stevenson


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