Friday, October 9, 2009

What's wrong with Tim Thomas?

Absolutely nothing, that's what.

The media are already beginning to pick up on the too-easy storyline that Thomas is stumbling in the face of his Vezina trophy and bloated contract. He didn't look great in an opening-night loss to Washington, and was lit up for 6 goals last night against the Ducks. Clearly, they conclude, he's due for a letdown season.

This happens with pretty much every goalie who achieves some measure of success, and in some cases (*cough*Theodore*cough*) the scrutiny is warranted. But in this case the lens should be focussed on a soft, passive defensive corps which seems to miss the grit and tenacity of Aaron Ward and Shane Hnidy.

What matters most for Boston is that Thomas is still playing like a man desperate to extend his NHL career. He made big saves against Anaheim while the game was still a close contest. He became more active handling the puck when it was clear his teammates couldn't handle the Ducks' aggressive forecheck.

Saturday night we should expect wunderkind Tuukka Rask to face the Islanders, marking his first appearance as full-time backup. If he plays well, the media are going to declare a "goalie controversy". But our attention should instead be squarely on Matt Hunwick, who really will be playing to convice Claude Julien of his worth. If Hunwick continues to be bullied by opposing forwards, look for Julien to bench him in favor of the stouter Johnny Boychuck.

That change alone might solve Thomas' struggles.

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