Bruins G Tim Thomas is either very confident or very bold. Perhaps it's both.
Either way, Thomas gave his best Mark Messier impersonation after the Bruins lost Game 4 on Saturday by a 5-3 score, blowing a three-goal first period lead in the process. Thomas was asked after the game how he felt the remainder of the series, which is now down to a best-of-three, would finish.
"We're going to win," Thomas declared.
The 37-year-old former teammate of Marty St. Louis at the University of Vermont didn't exactly offer up a guaranteed victory in the series, but his words certainly implied that the Bruins were going to advance on the Stanley Cup finals for the first time since 1990.
Tampa Bay coach Guy Boucher was asked Sunday about the comments Thomas made, in addition to previous comments the Bruins' goaltender made after a Game 3 shutout that he had an easy night in net and felt comfortable, perhaps implying the Lightning were an easy team to play against.
"I guess we should have stayed home," Boucher said of the guarantee. "You know, their people are allowed to think what they think and we're not going to pay attention to that. Hopefully our players are staying focused and that's what we're focusing on."
The status of RW Steve Downie likely won't be known until sometime before tonight's Game 5 after the Lightning forward left Saturday's game in the second period with an undisclosed upper-body injury.
Downie did travel with the team, but is considered day-to-day with an undisclosed injury. He was not available for comment on Sunday and the team did not skate.
"We'll see (today)," Boucher said. "We have to wait."
Downie was hit into the boards by Boston RW Nathan Horton late in the second period as Downie's head first hit the glass awkwardly and then appeared to strike the ice as he fell down. Horton was called for boarding on the play (which was later changed to roughing) but nothing was called as Horton hunched over Downie to taunt the Lightning forwards. Downie, meanwhile, was called for diving on the play despite being injured. Even as the officials had to help a woozy-looking Downie get back to the bench, they were calling for the Lightning to send somebody to the box to serve Downie's penalty.
"If it's a mistake and the (referees) make only one during the entire game, they're like coaches and players if they limit their mistakes," Boucher said. "The referees have been great the past two games. They let the players play. It's not a cheap series."
Boucher also said he had no issue with Horton leaning over toward Downie as Downie was on his knees on the ice.
"That's a situation that, right now, we have no control over and we want to make sure that we control what we need to for (today) which means our attitude and our emotional level and control and that starts today," Boucher said. "So no, it doesn't bother me."
In the kitchen
One of Tampa Bay's plans of attack in Game 4 was to ensure it got much closer to Thomas than the team did in a shutout loss in Game 3. The Lightning made life a bit more miserable for Thomas in Game 4.
Needless to say, the strategy likely will remain the same for tonight's critical Game 5 at TD Garden.
"Well, some of the players talked a lot about it," Boucher said. "(Thomas) did say that it was an easy game to play against us last game. And obviously a lot of the guys were very fired up for this game. Certainly, I did hear it in the locker room, for sure."
Nuts and Bolts
The team held a short meeting at TD Garden with only the team's minor-league "aces" taking to the ice. … The team will hold a watch party at the St. Pete Times Forum for today's Game 5, beginning at 6:30 p.m. with the game shown outside, beginning at 8 p.m. Free parking is available at the VIP East and VIP West lost on a first-come, first-serve basis. Food and merchandise specials also will be available, although fans may bring their own coolers with food and non-alcoholic beverages.