BOSTON -- A week ago, Tim Thomas came into a game with the New Jersey Devils having gone four games without a win, the longest such streak of his Vezina Trophy-caliber season. But he put a halt to that skid with a 30-save performance in a 4-1 win, then followed that up with a 24-save shutout in a 7-0 win over Montreal, 28 saves in a 2-1 win over Philadelphia and on Tuesday a 32-save performance for his ninth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over Chicago.
While media and fans may credit Thomas with “bouncing back,” the Bruins are trying to figure out what exactly Thomas, now 33-10-8 with a 1.96 GAA and .940 save percentage, is bouncing back from.
“Bouncing back is one thing, but it’s amazing, he’s been great for us all year and then the minute he only becomes good, everybody talks about him being in a slump,” Julien said. “I don’t think he’s ever been bad for us this year. He’s been good sometimes, but he’s been great most of the time.
"We gave him a little bit of rest and then he fine-tuned himself again, and after a little bit of rest he’s back to where he was most of the year. So that was our plan and we needed Tuukka [Rask] to step up and help us out and he’s done that. So I’m pretty happy with our goaltending.”
Veteran Mark Recchi hasn’t seen the slump that many claimed Thomas fell into either. Recchi made sure to get his vote in for Thomas as the 2011 Vezina Trophy winner.
“He’s been unbelievable all year,” Recchi said. “Tuukka has been great for us too, but Timmy has been out of this world. Since we played that exhibition game in Liberec [Czech Republic], he’s been unconscious. What’s he had one bad game? Personally he’s my Vezina and I think everybody else in this dressing room would agree and I hope everyone else will too. We see it every day and he’s still unbelievable.”
Recchi also gave a thumb's-up to Thomas for the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.
"You could really, because he’s our best player,” Recchi said when asked if Thomas should be the first goalie to win the prestigious award since Jose Theodore did it with the Canadiens in 2002.
Thomas said he never really felt like he was losing his game during the winless stretch.
“I didn’t feel that bad during that stretch,” Thomas said. “I mean, there were shots that were hitting off of people that were going wide and going in. Having said that, I do feel good right now. But I didn’t feel that bad before. It’s a fine line for a goalie.”