For a regular season game in the middle of October, where the arena was barely half-full, the Boston Bruins 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers meant something to both teams. For the B's it was a chance to show former Bruin and current Panther Tim Thomas that they are indeed, just fine without him.
Thomas, who is coming of an injury and a year layoff, is a competitive player who more than likely wanted to stick it to his old team. The Bruins got two quick goals in the first period in a rusty Thomas. The Panthers battled back to knot it at two, when forward Riley Smith took advantage of chaos in front of the net to put one home with :54 seconds to go.
The Panthers are now in the same division as the Bruins, and in late November Thomas will get his true homecoming when Florida travels to Boston.
1) Thomas shows flashes of his old self.
At the onset of the game it looked as though it could be a long night for the netminder who once carried the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup in forty years. After he settled in, the Bruins did have a hard time. After the game Thomas was, as usual, very open about his attitude coming into the game.
"I, of course, tried to approach it just like any other game," Thomas said. "Having said that, it was a big game for me coming back after a while and then, obviously, facing your former team and a lot to-do around it. I was a little bit nervous today, but not too bad."
At nights' end, Timmy stopped 40 of 43 shots, and made some truly spectacular saves. The real emotional and physical test for Thomas will come when Thomas takes his first strides on the TD Garden Ice.
2) Boston gets positive secondary scoring.
On Thursday the B's got scoring contributions from defenseman Dougie Hamilton and third line forward Riley Smith. Hamilton's goal was an absolute rocket from the point on the powerplay that got by Tim Thomas on his low glove side.
Smith's goal might have been even more encouraging. The Bruins had squandered a two goal lead, and with confusion in front of the Panthers' net, the rookie was able to flip the puck over Thomas's blocker shoulder. The clutch goal is hopefully a sign of things to come from a unit the Bruins need to have an impact.
3) Thomas not the only player to have a reunion.
Two members of the Boston Bruins also had a homecoming of sorts. Both Daniel Seidenberg and Gregory Campbell had spent a portion of their careers' in South Florida. Although lining up against the Panthers probably was nowhere near as bizarre as it was for Thomas to be on the opposite end against the Bruins, these two teams do have some history.
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