The Bruins will be shooting at a familiar face in net on Thursday night, but the B’s are less worried about the reunion that will be taking place at the BB&T Center, and more concerned with securing two points.
The Panthers announced on Wednesday that Tim Thomas would be getting the start in net against his former team when the Bruins come to town, and while his former teammates and coaches have nothing but respect and kind words for the 39-year-old, winning remains at the forefront of their matchup.
“You lose players like that, who are liked and well-respected in the dressing room … you’ve got to turn the page,” Claude Julien told CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty. “It’s the same thing with Timmy. Timmy has a new career going on here in Florida, and we’ve got our own things to take care of. So it’s more about putting the past aside for this game, and doing the job we came here for: winning a hockey game.”
Thomas has only started two games for Florida this season, leaving his second start early after suffering a groin injury, but the former Vezina Trophy winner will return to the ice for the first meeting against the Bruins in his career.
“This is the first time it’ll be a starting goalie that we’ll be playing against that we shot on in practice 100, 200, 300 … I don’t even know how many different times,” said Milan Lucic. “It’s different, too, because he was such a big part of this team for so many years. Both sides are looking forward to it. You look back at the saves he used to make in games where he was out of position, and everything else. So for a scouting report I don’t even know where to start. It’s a lot different than practice.
“As a teammate he was everything you would want as far as coming to play every night, and bringing that competitive edge all the time. I won’t say anything bad about him. I got to spend five years with him and got to see the best level that any goalie played at in those five years. That’s the most you could ask from your goaltender. He was a big part of us winning.”
After backstopping the Bruins to a Stanley Cup in 2011, Thomas sat out for the entirety of the lockout-shortened season. His rights were eventually traded to the Islanders before the veteran signed a one-year deal with the Panthers. The Bruins didn’t miss a beat, however, as Thomas’ backup for three seasons, Tuukka Rask was handed the reins and has experienced tremendous success in Boston. While it won’t be the environment he’s used to, Rask doesn’t see too many differences facing Thomas in a setting where two points are on the line.
“It’ll be fine,” said Rask. “We practiced [against] each other many years, so I don’t think it’s going to be any different. We both practice how we play. It will just be lots more people in the stands watching. I never thought we’d play against each other, but I’m glad he made his comeback.
“We’re one game over .500 right now. We just want to win and improve that record. It doesn’t matter if it’s against Timmy or somebody else.”
Thomas announced that he will not speak to the media until after Thursday’s game.