“The last two games he’s had shutouts, so it doesn’t take a brain surgeon to make the decision for tonight. You go with your best goaltender and right now he’s rolling pretty good.”
— Boston head coach Claude Julien on starting Tim Thomas against Buffalo.
Prior to this announcement, there was debate whether the Bruins should ‘hide’ Thomas given what transpired 11 days ago. (You know, that whole “Milan Lucic concussed Ryan Miller” thing…followed by the “Buffalo didn’t stand up for Miller” thing…followed by the “Sabres are coming apart at the seams” thing.)
Retribution seemed a given for tonight.
But retribution is complex, in that there are many ways to go about it. The PHT comments section — a bastion for intellectual conversation and thought-provoking ideas — suggested several options for the Sabres, one of them being the tit-for-tat method:
Run Tim Thomas. You hit our goalie, we hit yours.
(We’re not endorsing this, merely passing it along.)
But is running Thomas really an option? Sure…if someone feels like taking a 25-game vacation and putting a down payment on the Players’ Emergency Assistance yacht. Otherwise it’s not even in the cards. Aside from the heightened awareness Brendan Shanahan has put on this game, running Thomas would be a bad move as it would only further question Buffalo’s team toughness.
If the Sabres have beef with Lucic, he should be the focus of their attention. (Well, their focus should probably be on winning the game, but that almost seems secondary at this point.) Trying to smash Thomas is akin to getting revenge on your ex-girlfriend by smashing her new boyfriend’s car window. It’s dumb, misguided and could earn you a serious beatdown in the process.
This might be a huge cliche, but it’s true: The best way for Buffalo to beat Thomas is by putting pucks past him, not taking runs at him.
Of course, that’s easier said than done. Thomas is 6-0 with a .950 save percentage and 1.50 goals against average during the month of November and as CSN New England’s Joe Haggerty put it, “looks like he’s in the middle of one of his patented hot streaks between the pipes.”