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Tim Thomas Named Vezina Finalist

by Staff Writer / Boston Bruins
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BOSTON, MA - The NHL announced today that Boston Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas has been named one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, which is awarded “to the goalkeeper adjudged to be the best at his position.” Thomas joins Minnesota’s Niklas Backstrom and Columbus’ Steve Mason as this year’s Vezina finalists. This is the first time Thomas has been a Vezina finalist in his career.

Thomas - who set a career high with 36 wins this year and played in his second straight NHL All-Star Game - finished the 2008-09 regular season as the league leader in Goals Against Average (2.10) and Save Percentage (.933). He helped lead the Bruins to their highest victory (53) and points (116) totals since 1971-72, and he and teammate Manny Fernandez shared the NHL’s William Jennings Trophy as the goaltenders for the club finishing the regular season having surrendered the fewest goals (196).

The general managers of the 30 NHL clubs submitted ballots for the Vezina Trophy at the conclusion of the regular season, with the top three vote-getters designated as finalists. The winner will be announced Thursday, June 18, during the 2009 NHL Awards that will be broadcast live from the Pearl Concert Theater inside the Palms Hotel Las Vegas on VERSUS in the United States and on CBC in Canada.

Following are the other two finalists for the Vezina Trophy, in alphabetical order:

Niklas Backstrom, Minnesota Wild
After nine seasons honing his craft in Europe and two earning increased playing time in the NHL, Backstrom established himself as the Wild’s go-to goalie this season, appearing in 71 games. He ranked among the League’s top five goaltenders in goals against average (2.33, third), save percentage (.923, fourth) and shutouts (eight, third) and his 37 wins were a franchise record in addition to being the NHL’s fifth-highest total. Backstrom established a club record with 149:19 of consecutive shutout goaltending Dec. 31-Jan. 8.

Steve Mason, Columbus Blue Jackets
Mason began his NHL career by winning his first three starts, Nov. 5, 7 and 8, seizing the Blue Jackets’ No. 1 goaltender role. Named the NHL’s Rookie of the Month for both November and December, he posted a club-record three straight shutouts in late December. Mason finished strong, going 8-2-4 from Mar. 7-Apr.8 as Columbus captured the first playoff berth in franchise history. His 10 shutouts led the League and his 2.29 goals against average ranked second to Tim Thomas’ 2.10 for Boston.

History of the Vezina Trophy:
Leo Dandurand, Louis Letourneau and Joe Cattarinich, former owners of the Montreal Canadiens, presented the trophy to the National Hockey League in 1926-27 in memory of Georges Vezina, the outstanding Canadiens goaltender who collapsed during an NHL game on Nov. 28, 1925, and died of tuberculosis a few months later. Until the 1981-82 season, the goaltender(s) of the team allowing the fewest number of goals during the regular season were awarded the Vezina Trophy.
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