Maybe it's because two Canadian franchises owned his rights but never gave Tim Thomas a shot to play in the NHL. Maybe it's a cultural thing, as the 2010 U.S. Olympic goalie's patriotism makes blanking Canadian foes more enjoyable. Or maybe it's all about climate, as the colder the weather gets, the hotter he plays.
Whatever it is, there's no denying that the Bruins' netminder has enjoyed spectacular success against the NHL clubs based in our neighbor to the north.
Thomas' remarkable run against Canadian clubs kicks off the inaugural edition of Off the Boards, our new weekly feature looking at a half dozen intriguing items about the Bruins that you might have missed otherwise.
Thomas, meanwhile, hasn't missed many pucks whenever he's faced any Canadian opponents, or at least the five teams hailing from the English-speaking provinces. Thomas, who was originally drafted by Quebec in the ninth round in 1994 and signed by Edmonton in 1998 but didn't make his NHL debut until 2002 with Boston, does have a losing record against Montreal. The Habs are also the only Canadian team he has not shut out in his NHL career.
But even factoring in his more limited success against the Canadiens, Thomas still possesses a 46-25-8 record, 2.45 goals-against average and a .923 save percentage against the six current Canadian teams. After back-to-back shutouts of Toronto and Ottawa in his last two games, Thomas now has 12 career shutouts in 81 games against Canadian teams, compared to just eight shutouts in 187 games against U.S.-based teams.
So is there really something about hearing "O Canada" that gets Thomas so fired up?
"No, I don't think it has to do with that," said Thomas. "It's just the way it works out, I guess."
Thomas denies making any special efforts against the Canadian teams, but did offer the climate-related theory.
"I do like colder weather," said Thomas. "My wife hates me for that, so I think that might have something to do with that. Maybe that's what makes your theory work."
Whatever the reasons, here are the cold, hard numbers for Thomas vs. Canadian teams:
Vancouver — 2 games, 2-0-0, 0.00 GAA, 1.000 save percentage, 2 shutouts
Edmonton — 3 games, 3-0-0, 0.98 GAA, .968 save percentage, 2 shutouts
Calgary — 2 games, 1-1-0, 1.50 GAA, .957 save percentage, 1 shutout
Ottawa — 26 games, 17-7-2, 2.01 GAA, .934 save percentage, 5 shutouts
Toronto — 23 games, 15-4-3, 2.85 GAA, .912 save percentage, 2 shutouts
Montreal — 25 games (24 starts), 8-13-3, 3.02 GAA, .906 save percentage, 0 shutouts
Totals — 81 games (80 starts), 46-25-8, 2.45 GAA, .923 save percentage, 12 shutouts