Re: bruins win thomas wins olde winesock loses
posted at 8/3/2011 10:54 PM EDT
In Response to Re: bruins win thomas wins olde winesock loses
[QUOTE]Over the course of the past season and playoffs, Tim Thomas put together a campaign arguably without peer in NHL annals. In the regular season, he led the league with a 2.00 goals-against average and set an NHL record with a .938 save percentage en route to his second Vezina Trophy. Then in the playoffs, he somehow managed to improve upon those numbers, putting up a 1.98 GAA and a .940 save percentage to win the Conn Smythe Trophy after the Bruins claimed the Stanley Cup for the first time in 39 years. There's no doubt that the Cup would not be back in Boston without Thomas. But now the big question is: What can he do for an encore? It's unrealistic to expect Thomas to deliver another season quite like that, even though he does thrive on defying expectations in a career built on a passion to prove doubters wrong. "The way I feel, I still have many good years ahead of me," Thomas said after winning the Vezina last month. "The goal is always to get better. I think that should be everybody's approach in life to whatever it is they choose to do. I'd like to see what I can do to raise the bar higher and push myself to the limit." So Thomas sees room for even more improvement in his game, an opinion he'd probably hold after any season short of posting 82 straight shutouts and 16 more in the playoffs. Still, Thomas' 2010-11 season was one for the ages and not something anyone should expect to see again from any goalie in the league anytime soon. Instead of expecting another historic season, the Bruins hope to have Thomas remain among the elite at his position for the foreseeable future. There are some legitimate reasons for concern about Thomas' ability to do that. He turned 37 in April, and has already overcome one major injury with the hip surgery he underwent after the 2009-10 season. There's also the fact that he followed up his last Vezina campaign by struggling for much of the ensuing season, eventually losing his starting role to Tuukka Rask . That was largely the result of the aforementioned hip injury, though, and this season proved that when healthy, Thomas is still as good as it gets in goal. Last year's numbers, while staggering, are also not a complete outlier in Thomas' impressive overall body of work. That first Vezina-winning season in 2008-09 was pretty close, as he finished that year leading the league with a 2.10 GAA and a .933 save percentage. Thomas also put up even more impressive numbers in Europe, including an MVP season in Finland in 2004-05 when he had a 1.58 GAA, .946 save percentage and 15 shutouts in 54 games for Jokerit in the Finnish Elite League. Thomas' style defies convention and even has drawn some ill-advised criticism from fellow goalies who only wish they could have been as successful in the Cup Final, but the effectiveness of Thomas' approach can no longer be debated. But how long will his 37-year-old body be able to contort itself into position for those highlight-reel saves? Maybe longer than you'd expect. With advances in medical treatment and training programs, players are extending their careers longer than ever. The Bruins need look no further than Mark Recchi , who just raised the Cup again at 43. Goaltending has long been a position where wisdom and experience can be as important as any other factor. Jacques Plante went 24-11-4 with a 1.88 GAA for Toronto at age 41 in 1970-71, then capped his NHL career with a 7-1-0 run with a 2.00 GAA for the Bruins two years later. Dominik Hasek turned 37 in the 2001-02 season in the midst of going 41-15-8 with a 2.17 GAA and was 27-10-3 with a 2.14 GAA at age 43 when he won a Cup with Detroit in 2008. Even Tampa Bay's Dwayne Roloson , who nearly outdueled Thomas in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final this spring, is coming off a stellar season of his own at age 41. There's little reason to fear a major dropoff from Thomas next season. Even the idea that he'd somehow get comfortable after accomplishing so much this past year goes against the nature of his ultra-competitive personality. And if that inner drive isn't enough, he also has to Rask waiting in the wings to push him to stay on top of his game. Thomas, this spring, became the first goalie to win the Vezina, Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup in the same year since Philadelphia's Bernie Parent did it in 1975. Parent also completed that rare Triple Crown the year before that, giving Thomas a new goal to chase next season. "He did it two years in a row," Thomas said. "It's amazing that he did it two years in a row. We're just coming off winning the Cup and it's been crazy and I haven't had time to stop and think. I would love to be able to accomplish something like that, but so many things have to fall into place. I bet Bernie would agree that it takes a unique set of circumstances to be able to win that he did two years in a row." Thomas then quickly added with a smile, "Of course I'm going to try something similar."
Posted by Kanes-Donuts[/QUOTE]
I knew he couldn't possibly have become literate over night.