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Tim Thomas the aggressor? Vancouver hopes officials will let them stand their ground

Jun 8, 2011, 2:20 PM EDT

Vancouver Canucks v Boston Bruins - Game Three Getty Images

One of the lasting visuals from Game 3 was that of Bruins goalie Tim Thomas taking a stand in his crease and delivering a body check to Canucks star and captain Henrik Sedin. Sedin was trying to glove down the puck from mid-air to play it and try to score. Thomas wasn’t eager to wait for Sedin to do that so he dropped him to the ice sending the crowd into a frenzy at the site.

While the Bruins and their fans loved the scene the Canucks were clearly not too happy about Thomas’ aggression. During today’s pregame press conference, coach Alain Vigneault expressed his thoughts on Thomas’ play and hopes that officials will allow his players to stand their ground while keeping an eye on what Thomas is doing.

“Part of Thomas’ way of playing is playing out of the blue paint, initiating contact, roaming out there. He seems to think that once he’s out, set, makes the save, that he can go directly back in his net without having anybody behind him,” Vigneault said.

“Well, that’s wrong. He’s got the wrong rule on that. If we’re behind him, that’s our ice and we’re allowed to stay there. We’ve talked to the NHL about that. We’ve talked to the NHL about him initiating contact like did on Hank. They’re aware of it. Hopefully they’re going to handle it.”

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The politicking never ends in the playoffs and while the Bruins and Canucks are both playing very physical hockey and dishing it out to each other ferociously, the one player you don’t expect that from is the goaltender. Given Thomas’ nature in goal the Canucks should be more aware of it, but that doesn’t make it right. As for what the Canucks might do in response, Vigneault was asked about that.

Q. Most of us weren’t even sure if it’s legal because surely you can’t body check him. What explanation did the league give you on his ability to throw a hit like that?

COACH VIGNEAULT: I’m not going to give you the explanation.

I will tell you, everybody is aware of it, we talked to it prior to this series, about the way he plays. We got clarification on what is allowable as far as him coming back in his net after he’s out five or ten feet past the blue paint. Hopefully everything will get sorted out on the ice.

While we don’t expect things to get out of hand around the goal, it’s not as if the Canucks are being saints either.

The play that helped set off the entire situation that ended with Milan Lucic taunting Alex Burrows started when Burrows tried to chop at the puck trapped on the side of the net. Thomas had his glove hand covering the puck to draw a whistle, but Burrows took a chop at his hand and then the shenanigans began in earnest between Burrows and Lucic.

Everyone’s getting their shots in one way or another and there are certainly no saints to be found on the ice in this series. If Vigneault wants it to be looked at closer, he may not like what ends up being called to settle things down.

  1. hystoracle - Jun 8, 2011 at 2:32 PM

    The guy who opens the door to the penalty box better of ate his Wheaties this morning because he is going to get a work out tonight. The parade starts at 8pm. Special teams will win game 4 and there is liable to be a lot of special teams in game 4 with the league cracking down.

  2. govtminion - Jun 8, 2011 at 2:43 PM

    That’s Timm-ah though- he’s an aggressive-minded goaltender. He’s always been that way- remember him laying a punch or two during the Winter Classic last year? You’re not going to change him by whining to the NHL about it- so you’re goign to either have to adapt to deal with what he brings to the ice, or suffer through it.

    Does Vigneault have time to do any coaching between all of his complaining? It seems like every day there’s a new article about what he’s upset about today.

  3. warpstonebc - Jun 8, 2011 at 2:46 PM

    I have no problem with Thomas hitting Sedin. But it doesn’t seem to make sense that a goalie gets to smoke players with impunity either. If he’s willing to dole it out, then a goalie should be fair game outside the crease.

    It would simplify things too: you get rid of the stupid trapezoid rule and goalies will think twice about playing the puck–just like a catcher in baseball. They only concession would be to use the trapezoid instead as a no-hit zone so that goalies don’t get killed behind the net.

    • hystoracle - Jun 8, 2011 at 3:00 PM

      what if one foot is in the trap and the other is out? a lot of room for gray in that rule.

      • warpstonebc - Jun 8, 2011 at 4:34 PM

        True. It should be addressed to some degree though. I miss seeing goalies come out wide to play the puck badly. :-)

        Certainly, the more success Thomas has playing out of the paint, the higher profile this issue becomes.

        I just hate the trapezoid though. Everything about it seems just so absurd and ad hoc.

  4. Ralphie - Jun 8, 2011 at 3:35 PM

    Tim Thomas explained this incident very well when ESPN interviewed him after the game. He basically said that the scenario of the puck getting tipped into the air in front of the goal happens more than you would think, and smart players (like Sedin) glove the puck down to the immediate left or right of the goalie (who is looking up, following the flight of the puck also). He noted that there is always someone in one of those two spots to swipe it in the net. He said it happens in practice to him all the time. Thomas isn’t going to allow Sedin to glove the puck into scoring position – plain and simple. The Sedin’s and Kesler by the way have done a pretty fair job of parking their bodies in front of Thomas the whole series without getting flattened once before this. This is a case of Thomas simply not allowing a player to use his hand to get an assist on a goal. That’s a goaltender you want on your team.

    Having said that, all Vigneault has done this series is whine. You would think that he didn’t have the most talented team and was the underdog with all his complaining. Any chippy crap, face rakes and bites it’s OK as long as it’s his team that isn’t being targeted, but he whines long and hard yesterday, complaining that Rome got jobbed, and now this garbage. Alain, you can’t suck enough.

  5. homelanddefense - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:45 AM

    this coach whines constantly, about EVERYTHING. Shut up and play….

    • warpstonebc - Jun 9, 2011 at 10:51 AM

      Urr, except that after the game, everyone looked at the rule book and realized the refs got it wrong: the Goalie is not allowed to initiate contact like that. Turns out there is a s a reason why Thomas is the first goalie to get a hit stat.

      While some consistency in NHL refereeing would be a dream, I think I’d settle for at least proper application of the rules.

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