If there’s one developing story of the 2011 playoffs that isn’t getting enough attention, it’s the outstanding run by Boston Bruins goalie Tim Thomas. It’s been a long time since the regular season’s most impressive goalie* also ranked as the best netminder of the playoffs, but Thomas is accomplishing that rare task so far.
After breaking Dominik Hasek’s single season save percentage record by establishing a 93.8 mark during the 2010-11 season, Thomas is playing almost as well in the 2011 playoffs. Thomas leads all goalies who started the majority of their games for at least two rounds with a 93.1 save percentage and is tied with Roberto Luongo for the league lead with 11 wins.
His outstanding 33-save performance during the team’s 3-1 win in Game 5 shined a bigger spotlight on his impressive playoff run, but he’s been bailing out the Bruins on many occasions during the playoffs. Boston’s defense is springing a lot of leaks against a Tampa Bay Lightning, allowing 30 shots or more in every game of the series. Yet they find themselves up 3-2 in the series because of timely scoring and often superlative netminding by Thomas.
“He’s a great goalie, and when you look at the great goalies of the past they have that confident swagger about them,” said Chris Kelly. “It’s not an arrogance, but a confident swagger. Timmy definitely has that. That’s part of what makes him great.”
Thomas battled his way to the NHL and now finds himself among the best goalies in the league. It’s doubtful that many goalie coaches would encourage future netminders to mimic his sprawling, unorthodox style but it manages to beguile shooters in a way that reminds many of Hasek.
When you can make saves like the one Thomas managed against Steve Downie (not to mention the many other highlight reel stops he produced during the regular season and playoffs), maybe it’s OK to have a little extra swagger.
For those who decry the decline in fighting – in “blood and guts” hockey – Tuesday presented a bloody moment, one fairly high on this season’s Muta scale.
Also, for some, seeing it happen to Tom Wilson specifically may provide additional pleasure.
Anyway, as you can see in the video above, Minnesota Wild winger Chris Stewart bloodied the Washington Capitals pest in a fight. Whether you’re for, against or neutral toward Wilson, it’s quite the sight.
Wilson may be hurt, by the way. He missed some time but returned later in the contest.
Auston Matthews likely ranks as the top reason that many Toronto Maple Leafs are starting to get the same feelings they had in better times, so it only makes sense that he broke a beloved Buds’ record on Tuesday.
With his 35th goal of a potential Calder season – but a brilliant debut either way – Matthews passed Wendel Clark for the Maple Leafs’ rookie record for goals in a season.
That goal was also meaningful for William Nylander, as he extended his point streak to 12 games with an assist. This team, fueled by young players, just keeps shattering first-year marks:
Leafs rookie record watch:
GOALS – 35 Matthews ASSISTS – 40 Marner tied with Bodnar POINT STREAK – 12 games Nylander SHG – 3 Hyman
The U.S. women’s national team voted in favor of accepting USA Hockey’s deal, so they’ll participate in the world championship tournament. USA Hockey recently made the news official with this press release.
The press release confirmed a report that the contract will last four years, while financial terms were kept confidential. (Team members had been seeking a living wage to represent USA Hockey.)
“Our sport is the big winner today,” Team captain Meghan Duggan said. “We stood up for what we thought was right and USA Hockey’s leadership listened. In the end, both sides came together. I’m proud of my teammates and can’t thank everyone who supported us enough. It’s time now to turn the page. We can’t wait to play in the World Championship later this week in front of our fans as we try and defend our gold medal.”