DETROIT (WWJ/AP) – While the Boston Bruins beelined across the ice to mob him at the buzzer, Tim Thomas, who hails from Davison, Michigan, tapped both goalposts, sank to his knees and rubbed the ice in front of his empty goal.
Thomas drew a virtual line in his crease throughout these crazy, contentious Stanley Cup finals, and Boston’s brilliant goalie just wouldn’t allow the Vancouver Canucks to cross it whenever it really mattered.
After 39 years without a championship, the Bruins ripped the Cup – and several thousand hearts – out of a Canadian city that has waited four decades itself for one sip.
Thomas was just too good, and the Bruins are the NHL’s best.
The Cup is headed back to the Hub of Hockey.
The 37-year-old Thomas made 37 saves in the second shutout of his landmark finals performance, Patrice Bergeron and rookie Brad Marchand scored two goals apiece, and the Bruins beat the Canucks 4-0 Wednesday night to win their first NHL championship since 1972.
“I think I went even further than I thought,” Thomas said. “I was scared, I won’t lie. I had nerves yesterday and today, and I faked it as best as I could, and I faked it all the way to the Stanley Cup.”
Nice try, Tim. There’s nothing fake about Thomas, who limited the NHL’s highest-scoring team to eight goals in the seven-game finals, blanking Vancouver in two of the last four – including Game 7, the only win by a road team in the series.
The oldest Conn Smythe Trophy winner in NHL history stopped a jaw-dropping 238 of the Canucks’ 246 shots in the finals for a .967 save percentage. That’s even better than his .940 mark and 1.98 goals-against average for the entire postseason.
“If I was going to do it any way, it would have to be the hardest way possible,” said Thomas, who played overseas and in the minors before finally getting his NHL break in 2005. “Three Game 7s in the playoffs, and to have to win it on the road in the final.”
The Bruins are the first team in NHL history to win a Game 7 three times in the same postseason, and Thomas posted shutouts in the decisive game of the Eastern Conference finals and the Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins’ postgame celebration centered around Thomas, who carried them through long stretches of a perilous postseason that began with two home losses to Montreal.
The Flint Journal reports that Thomas’ hockey career began back in Flint, skating at an outdoor rink at Whaley Park near his family’s home on Jane Avenue. The family eventually moved to Mt. Morris, then to Davison.
Thomas temporarily gave up his goalie pads for forward equipment when he joined the Davison High School team as a sophomore in 1989-90. He was between the pipes before long.
“Davison had a senior goalie (Al Sumner), so I started out playing forward and defense for the first couple games,” Thomas said. “The senior goalie went to the coach, because I was practicing as a goalie and he said, ‘Hey, this kid’s better than me.’ The senior goalie switched to defense and I switched to goalie.”
Davison’s Tim Thomas has now won a Stanley Cup, Conn Smythe Trophy and Vezina Trophy during his NHL career.