On Tuesday it was the return of Tyler Seguin and Rich Peverley (okay, mostly Tyler Seguin) that dominated the headlines. Thursday, another decorated former Bruin makes his return to the TD Garden and while a groin injury will keep Tim Thomas out of the lineup, it’s done nothing to keep him out of the headlines.
In 2011 Thomas, now with the Florida Panthers, submitted one of the best postseason performances in history, winning the Conn Smythe and Vezina trophies en route to the Bruins’ first Stanley Cup championship in 39 years.
But when asked about fans’ perceptions that his team couldn’t have won without Thomas, Bruins head coach Claude Julien said he thinks the rest of his team deserves just as much credit.
"They're right," Julien said, "but Tim Thomas doesn't win the Stanley Cup if our team doesn't play as well as it did in front of him. "This is an honest statement: Tim played well, but I think our team played just as well in front of him. You don’t win a Stanley Cup with just a goaltender. He won the Conn Smythe because he was very good, but at the same time I would like to hope the statistic of your goaltenders can also reflect the team in front of you.
“We did a pretty good job in front of him for years minimizing the goal-scoring chances and the quality of [them]. So let’s make sure we don’t take away credit from the rest of the team too. He was a big part of it, and so was a lot of other guys. I think we won the Stanley Cup because we were a good team. That’s what I like to think anyways.”
Thomas did not speak to the media Thursday in what would have been his first appearance in TD Garden as a visitor. The 39-year-old played for the Bruins from 2002 through 2012 but made the surprising decision to sit out the final year of his contract with the Bruins to spend more time with his family. Earlier that season Thomas ruffled some feathers among fans and teammates when he refused to join the team on their trip to the White House, citing political reasons.
The Bruins faced Thomas on Oct. 17 in Florida, with Boston taking a 3-2 victory. Thomas played two more games after that before injuring the groin. He is 2-3-0 in six games with a 3.11 GAA on the season.
Boston enters Thursday's game with a record of 8-5-1, good for fourth in the Atlantic Division. The Panthers find themselves in seventh with a record of 3-5-4 and a league-worst -22 goal differential.