Celebrating the scary-good six game start by Tim Thomas

It’s often prudent to calm people down when a player goes on a hot streak to start a season while acknowledging that maybe – just maybe – those results could actually continue over 82 games. Yet in the case of Tim Thomas, his numbers are so surreal that I can flat-out guarantee he won’t remain this dominant. Maintaining such numbers would be unfathomable, but that’s exactly why I want to spotlight this stretch before he inevitably becomes “human” again.

Let’s take a glance at the big picture stuff before we start crunching numbers.

He is the first Boston Bruins goalie to go 6-0 since before World War II. He hasn’t allowed more than one goal in any game and earned a shut out in half of his contests. His goals against average (.50 … yup, that’s a goal every other game) and save percentage (98.4) aren’t just unsustainable … they’re almost unthinkable.

It’s as if Thomas stewed all summer long about a tough (but by no means awful) 2009-10 season and decided to do what he could to give Boston their $5 million worth before 2011 even rolls around.

Sure, he plays behind a well-coached Bruins system, but these numbers are just bonkers. In fact, check out a game-by-game log of his uniformly outstanding performances, via hockey-reference.com.

(click to enlarge)

Here are a few other facts about his outstanding six-game start.

  • Thomas stopped 182 out of 185 shots so far.
  • It’s not exactly like he’s had time to check his stocks and catch up on his evening reading while in net either; the Bruins have allowed 30.83 shots per game while Thomas has been in net. Really, his only “easy” start came when he earned a 20-save shutout against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
  • This is almost certainly the best six game stretch of his career, as he didn’t even play this well in any similar span during his Vezina-winning 2008-09 season. The closest I could find was an early six game span(October 27-November 12, 2008) in which he went 5-1, earned two shutouts and allowed seven goals.

(Apparently Thomas is no stranger to strong starts … or maybe he just loves Halloween.)

  • Vancouver Canucks goalie Cory Schneider is the only other NHL goalie with a sub-1.00 GAA so far this season, but he only appeared in three games to six for Thomas. Pittsburgh Penguins “backup” Brent Johnson is probably the best comparable, with a 5-0-1 record, 1.16 GAA and 96 save percentage.

So, again, I’ll make the not-so-bold statement that Thomas won’t finish anywhere close to these numbers by the end of this season. Still, with a start like this, he very well might approach those all-world 08-09 season stats.

Something tells me the Boston Bruins (and Thomas) could live with that.

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