It’s about time I dropped all journalistic pretense and slobbered all over Tim Thomas.
Thomas, if you haven’t been paying attention, has been an absolute beast. As of this writing, he leads the NHL in save percentage (.945), goals against average (1.80) and is tied for the shutout lead with five.
He has also made a number of insane saves, including this gem against Toronto a few weeks ago.
The Bruins wound up losing that night in a shootout, but to be honest, they had no business even getting a point out of that game, if not for Thomas. I felt guilty that night; it was a Saturday, I was out at dinner with some friends, and I could see the game on a TV across the room. And a number of times, I was caught glancing over shoulders and reacting to one insane save after another. That one was one of 38, and despite the loss, I caught myself watching that save repeatedly.
I could go quite deep here in the “I Told You So” department. That despite Tuukka Rask’s brilliance last season, trading Thomas didn’t make sense; that his salary wasn’t the albatross that many in the impatient Boston media painted it to be; that you don’t pin your hopes on a 22-year-old goaltender without insurance; that Thomas played hurt last year, explaining the drop in performance…
Well, to be clear, I’m not going to extrapolate on those individual points anymore than I already have.
No, what I want this to be is a simple gesture, a note to point out Thomas’ brilliance this season. In front of a shaky defensive corps, he has played magnificently, making saves that has left jaws scraping the ice in wonder. He’s been the Bruins’ MVP so far, keeping them in a race on nights when they don’t seem to want to play.
I was in attendance on Dec. 18 against Washington. After taking a quick 3-0 lead in the first period, the Bruins stopped shooting, putting only nine shots on the Washington net in the final two periods. In the third period alone, Washington woke up and peppered Thomas with 26 shots. He stopped 25 of them. 25 saves in a single game would be solid; he pulled that out in a period. The Bruins hung on for a 3-2 win.
So, raise your glasses to Tim Thomas, that trapeze artist hiding behind goalie pads, a white mask and a black-and-gold sweater. Vote to send him to the All-Star game, and take a moment to appreciate the clinic he’s putting on this season.
And remember: This is why you don’t trade goalies.