Ideally, Tim Thomas would have skated off the American Airlines Center ice with a clean slate to go along with the win in his debut appearance for the Panthers.
“I try to stop every puck,” he said after leading Florida — it’s going to take a while to get used to that reality — to a 4-2 opening night victory over the Dallas Stars. “I don’t look at it as keeping my team in it. My job is to stop them all.”
That’s always been one of the elements that defined Thomas’s greatness during the past decade. Every game, a potential shutout. Every goal against, a personal affront.
Other than Thomas, though, no one was expecting him to be at his Vezina-Conn Smythe-Stanley Cup-winning best. Not yet anyway. A year off from the game, at age 39 no less, was bound to dull the edges a bit.
And dull they were. The truth is, Thomas looked very beatable last night. There were hints of the confidence that made his style-less style so effective in Boston, but the impact of his sabbatical was obvious.