Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has been stellar through the first four games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Finals against the Vancouver Canucks, sporting a 1.25 GAA and .966 SV%. But Thomas will be remembered in this series not just for his solid goaltending, but his ruthless aggression. First, he body-checked Henrik Sedin in Game 3. Then, in Wednesday's 4-0 Game 4 win, he fought Public Enemy No. 1 in Boston, Alexandre Burrows.
The Bruins were two minutes away from tying the series at two games apiece, but the Canucks were hell-bent on at least denting Thomas. While Brad Marchand was in the penalty box for four minutes after tripping Keith Ballard, Vancouver had an extended power play. As the Canucks hovered in the offensive zone, Burrows planted himself in front of Thomas' crease. Burrows eventually turned towards Thomas and slashed the goalie stick out of his hands. Thomas recovered and delivered a slash of his own to Burrows' right leg. That set off the ticking time bomb as the two began to brawl as teammates flooded in to get themselves a piece of the action.
After Thomas shoved Sedin in Game 3, Vancouver head coach Alain Vigneault spoke out about Thomas' style of play:
"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. 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 he did on Hank. They're aware of it. Hopefully they're going to handle it."
Based on Thomas' play Wednesday, it does not look like the league has had any effect on him whatsoever. But yet, neither have the Canucks.