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Did Tim Thomas accidentally give Tampa Bay bulletin board material?

May 22, 2011, 11:57 PM EDT

Tim Thomas Getty Images

We’ve had our fair share of drama in the Eastern Conference finals. From Tyler Seguin‘s rookie breakout to the Bruins magnanimous El Foldo in Game 4, there’s been plenty to talk about and a lot of is coming from Boston. After the Bruins loss in Game 4, however, those in Boston’s locker room were doing their part to stay positive in the face of a disastrous loss.

Leading the charge with the upbeat talk was goalie Tim Thomas. After all, it fell on Thomas’ shoulders to try and keep the Bruins in the game when the rest of the team seemed to shut it down after getting ahead 3-0. Thomas’ defense hung him out to dry to the tune of four straight goals against in an eventual 5-3 loss. After the game, Thomas made it clear how confident he feels in himself and his teammates.

“Yeah, we’re gonna win,” said the Bruins’ goaltender after Saturday’s Game 4 loss. “I don’t know how it’s going to be at any one point in time or any one game, but what’s important is we come back in Game 5 and win that game.”

They’re bold but confident words from the guy who feels most responsible for what went down in Game 4, even if said a bit tongue in cheek. While that “guarantee” doesn’t quite rank up there with the likes of Mark Messier in 1994 or Joe Namath in Super Bowl III, it’s rare to get such declarative statements from a pro athlete these days. It’s rare because it can also be viewed by their opponents as a means to fire them up.

As you might expect, Thomas’ words caught the attention of at least Lightning coach Guy Boucher. He was a bit sarcastic, yet pointed, with his thoughts on the matter.

“Well, I heard about that,” said Boucher. “Well, we heard that we were easy to play before last game. And, well, I guess we should have stayed home. You know, their people are allowed to think what they think and we’re not going to pay attention to that. Hopefully our players are staying focused and that’s what we’re focusing on.”

In other words, Guy Boucher is not amused no matter what. I don’t know that I’d mess with him when he’s in coaching mode.

We can always debate about whether or not a player’s comments can actually serve to be motivation for a team, especially in the playoffs where winning should be the only motivation. That said, Thomas had to do something to get himself fired up for Game 5 and to give him reason to get focused. While he didn’t get much help from his teammates, Thomas wasn’t exactly sparkling in Game 4 either.

Everyone had to take some of the blame for that loss and Thomas getting bold with his words is a good sign for him. After all, if he stinks up the house in Game 5 and the Bruins take the loss, all the heat falls on him. Better one guy than the rest of the team facing the heat, right?

We’re sure the Lightning aren’t personally insulted by Thomas’ confidence, but now they’ll have their own double-secret motivator if the Bruins come out on fire in Game 5. Either way, it’s set up for Game 5 to have plenty of added drama to a series that hasn’t been lacking it.

  1. jamiefavreau - May 23, 2011 at 12:39 AM

    Good luck to the Bruins. I think the Lightning have a lot going for them including their losing is not an option attitude.

  2. stakex - May 23, 2011 at 12:28 PM

    Gee wizz, the other team thinks their going to win. How dare they!

    I mean, seriously? I never got this. How is the other team thinking they are going to win something to get “fired up” about? Its a no brainer the other team thinks they are going to win, and beside the point these guys are paid professionels… they shouldn’t need something to get fired up over. They should go out and do their damn job.

  3. govtminion - May 23, 2011 at 1:40 PM

    I’d say Thomas is saying exactly what he should be saying. What were you expecting? “We’re hosed, Tampa has our number, see you next year, anyone seen my golf clubs?”

    When you’re facing a tough time like this, you want to see someone in that locker room step up and be that voice that gets everyone on the same page. Think Patrick Roy back in his prime, for example, or Mark Messier. Thomas isn’t up there with guys like that perhaps, but he’s making himself that sort of personality for Game 5. Will it work? He’ll be a huge part of the answer either way, but I’m glad someone is saying this stuff anyway.

  4. falstaffsmind - May 23, 2011 at 1:52 PM

    I am a Lightning fan, but I think the press is overselling Thomas’ “guarantee”. It’s not like some kind of brash Joe Namath thing.

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