After allowing a single goal or less in four of the first six Stanley Cup Final games, the general consensus heading into Game 7 is that Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas might win the Conn Smythe Trophy regardless of which team wins Wednesday (8 p.m. ET, NBC, CBC, RDS). If Thomas does win the Smythe, it could be a notable moment in the history of this coveted award.
At age 37, Thomas would become the oldest player ever to win the playoff MVP. Currently that distinction is held by another goaltender, Glenn Hall, who earned the honor in 1968 at age 36 with the St. Louis Blues, which lost in the Final to the Montreal Canadiens. If, like Hall, Thomas wins the Smythe in a losing effort, he would become the sixth player -- five of them goalies -- to do so.
Not long ago, this award was reserved primarily for players in their 30s. Between 1996 and 2002, seven consecutive Smythe winners were 32 or older. That streak included Scott Stevens, who was a few months shy of Hall’s record when he won the award in 2000. In more recent years, however, the race for Conn Smythe has been a young man's game. Four of the last six winners have been 24 or younger and the last two -- Jonathan Toews and Evgeni Malkin -- won it as 22-year-olds.
While Thomas would become just the sixth player to earn the honor at age 34 or older, 14 players age 24 or younger have won the Smythe. Incidentally, there is one player who appears on both lists. Three-time winner Patrick Roy was just 20 when he became the youngest-ever recipient of the Smythe, with the Canadiens in 1986. In 2001, he won it again with the Avalanche at age 35.
There are other goaltending records in play for Thomas. With one more stop, he will establish a new record for saves in a playoff season, this after establishing a new benchmark for save percentage in the regular season. If Thomas captures the Smythe and the Vezina this season, he’ll be just the third goalie to do so, after the Flyers’ Bernie Parent and Ron Hextall.
Not bad for an old man.