Boston Bruins' Tim Thomas celebrates after blocking the shot by Buffalo Sabres' Jason Pominville, giving the Bruins a 4-3 win, in a shootout during an NHL hockey game in Boston, Saturday, April 7, 2012. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
WILMINGTON, Mass. - Tim Thomas has gotten some rest.
And if last season's playoffs are any indication, he's going to need it.
"I don't think he's a tired goaltender," Bruins coach Claude Julien said as the defending Stanley Cup champions wrapped up the regular season and prepared for what they hope will be another long playoff run. "I've seen Tim tired before, and I see the signs, but he's certainly not tired. ... We've got a few days here to work on our game and get ourselves sharpened up, and that includes him."
The Bruins begin the playoffs against the Washington Capitals on Thursday, and Thomas is certain to be in net for the opener. Last year, Thomas played every minute of the team's run to its first NHL championship since 1972, earning him the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP to go with the Vezina he snared as the best goaltender in the regular season.
Three of the Bruins' four playoff series went seven games, and four games went into overtime. In all, Thomas played an extra 1,541 minutes, 43 seconds in the post-season last year before coming into a season where the Bruins again leaned on him heavily after backup Tuukka Rask was injured at the beginning of March.
Still, Thomas finished with playing-time statistics this season similar to last season's. He played in 59 games, two more than last year, but started 55 in both seasons and played two fewer minutes this year than last year.
And when the playoffs start on Thursday, it will be Thomas' second game in 11 days; last year, he had played three games after April 1 as the Bruins headed into the post-season. Thomas skipped a trip to Ottawa on April 5 after it was clear that the Bruins were locked into the No. 2 seed in the East.
"Not travelling to Ottawa, was a nice little mental break," he said. "When you're on the bench you never know when you're going to have to go in, and that probably was the first game in I don't know five years, four years, something like that, I could sit back and completely watch without having to wonder how the game goes whether I'd have to go in or not."
The Bruins won the Northeast Division to earn the No. 2 seed in the playoffs, so they'll open at home on Thursday night and play Game 2 at the TD Garden on Saturday. The series moves to Washington for Games 3 and 4 on April 16 and 19. Game 5 would be back in Boston on April 21, if necessary.
The matchup will bring Thomas back to the nation's capital, where he caused a stir in January after refusing to join the team when it met President Barack Obama for the traditional champions' White House visit. He said at the time that the federal government "has grown out of control" and vowed not to discuss it again.
He held fast to his promise on Monday.
Asked about the White House snub, Thomas cut off the interview.
"Thanks, guys," he said with a laugh as he walked away. "We finally got somebody to get me out early."