Well, it was a no win for the Florida Panthers last night. With two goals scored in the opening period and one in the last minute of the third period, the Boston Bruins walked away with another victory. It was not because Boston took it in a landslide. Rather it was a sly goal past net minder Tim Thomas, that broke a 2 on 2 tie in the last minute of the third period.
Thomas started the game finding his footing which had given Boston a 2-0 advantage in the first period. Enter in the second period and Thomas had found his strength. He is putting forth his talent as a goaltender deflecting pucks that only one period ago had gotten past him. He had turned from a swinging gate into a brick wall and gave the Panthers a chance to get on the board.
This strength continued into the third period as the Panthers tied the game getting the puck past Tuukka Rask’s failed attempt to cover up. The Panthers seemed pervaded by this strength and played with an incredible ferocity. It appeared that they would advance to take this game either in regulation, overtime or shootout. Thomas was a virtual dynamo in the last minutes of the third period keeping back everything the Bruins were sending his way.
Then, enter Reilly Smith who, in the last minute found a crack in Thomas’s wall. He did not send the puck over or around but literally through his legs. In the last seconds remaining, pulling Thomas and adding another player to the ice proved a lesson in futility as the Panthers ended up succumbing to their loss.
If not for this tricky goal, the game might have ended up in the Panther’s favor. Thomas, winner of the Conn Smythe trophy in 2011 showed every inch of his formidable presence as the game advanced past the first period. He remained unbudging as Boston hammered away trying to get past him. In the end it wasn’t the brawn of the Bruins that won the game but the brains executed in the clever goal of Smith.
Thomas’s greatest asset is his strength and as the season progresses it will serve him well. However, if he is to truly succeed in his tenure for the Panthers he should remember this. It is not the Goliath players in the NHL that should worry him. It is the Davids with the speed and cleverness to get pucks past his brick wall or in this case, through it.