The Boston Bruins get another break in the action, a full four days to recover from Saturday night’s 3-2 loss before a disappointed sellout crowd at the TD Garden.

Thursday night the Bruins welcome Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs to town, and then head off on another three-game trip.

No transatlantic flights this time for the Bruins. The biggest body of water they’ll be crossing is Lake Ontario.

It’s been a strange start to the season for Boston, what with preseason games against Northern Ireland local teams and regular-season games in Prague.

Strange on the ice, too, with newfound offensive firepower and a group of defensemen who have shown their ability to move the puck up the ice.

We’ve also had a surprise in net. Tim Thomas, the aging backup coming back from off-season hip surgery, has become the No. 1 guy between the pipes.

He hasn’t lost a game yet, going 4-0-0 with a goals-against average of 0.75 and an unbelievable save percentage of .978.

He has been the starting goalie in every Bruins win so far this season, looking very much like the man who won the Vezina Trophy as the league’s best goaltender two years ago.

All in all, a pretty good start for a 36-year old veteran who many thought would be traded this summer.

“There ought to be a picture of him next to the word ‘persistence’ in the dictionary,” said one former NHL coach this week. “He never stops battling.”

Things have never come easy for Thomas. He didn’t make his NHL debut until he was 28 years old, a full six seasons after he graduated from the University of Vermont.

He played four games that season, and would wait another three years until he got the call again.

then, he had called places like Houston and Birmingham, Ala., home. He had spent full seasons in Finland and Sweden honing his craft. He was about as far off the NHL radar as a guy in his 20’s could be.

Yet he never stopped battling. Now, with 270 NHL games on his resume and a goaltender-of-the-year trophy at home, he has once again had to overcome the odds to beat out Tuuka Rask. Rask is the heir apparent, the 23-year-old wunderkind who played every minute of the Bruins playoff run last season.

Had Thomas not gone under the knife for a painful hip injury, had he not been making more than $5 million this season, he undoubtedly would’ve been traded.

Yet here he is, healthy and playing some of the best hockey of his career. Last Thursday, in the Garden home opener, he single-handedly kept the Bruins in the game against Alex Ovechkin’s Capitals for the first 30 minutes before the Boston offense finally got on track.

Of course, all of this doesn’t mean he couldn’t get traded this season.

In fact, some think his stellar play only makes an eventual trade more likely. But, for now, the Bruins are happy to go with the hot hand. Even if it isn’t the hand they expected to ride.

 

Tom Caron is the studio host for Red Sox broadcasts on the New England Sports Network. His column appears in the Press Herald on Tuesdays.