For those Bruins fans who are a little tired of seeing Red Wings and Penguins all over the NHL.com, just click
over to the league leaders. There he is, the Black & Gold's own Tim Thomas
, still leading the current Stanley Cup playoffs in GAA.
Surely, that 1.85 GAA is a bittersweet reminder of what might have been had the B's gotten by the Carolina Hurricanes in the second round of the Eastern Conference playoffs, but that stellar stat is also a pleasant reminder that the B’s aren’t worrying about the goal crease for the foreseeable future.
"Seems so long ago, but it was only seven months ago or whatever that a lot of people were picking us to barely make the playoffs and some of us were thinking that we overachieved the year before by making the playoffs," said Thomas after the Bruins final game. "So it was a great ride."
It was a great ride, and for much of the campaign, Thomas was the driver.
"The Tank" set a career high with 36 wins this year, played in his second straight NHL All-Star Game and finished the 2008-09 regular season as the league leader in GAA (2.10) and Save Percentage (.933).
The veteran goaltender also 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).
And before the end of the regular season, Thomas, who hopes to compete for the starting goaltending position on the US Olympic team in 2010, signed a multi-year contract extension with Boston.
“With free agency coming up potentially this summer, you have to think about: Would you rather go someplace else or would you rather stay in Boston,” said Thomas at the time. “And after weighing things over, over and over, the answer always kept coming back: Boston.
“It’s a great place to play, I have great teammates, great fans, and I’m very happy to be looking at the next [few] years in Boston.”
The 34-year-old Davison, Michigan native was drafted in the 9th round (217th overall) of the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. He was a four-year starter at the University of Vermont and compiled an 81-43-15 record and a 2.70 Goals Against Average in 140 career games. As a Catamount he was named an NCAA All-American and ECAC First Team All-Star in both 1995 and 1996 and led the Catamounts to their first Frozen Four appearance in school history during his junior season.
Signed by the Edmonton Oilers as a free agent on June 4, 1998 he played in various professional leagues including the East Coast Hockey League, International Hockey League, American Hockey League, the Finnish Elite League and the Swedish Elite League over the next five seasons from 1997-2002. Returning to Finland during the 2004-05 season, Thomas captured league Most Valuable Player honors as he led all goaltenders in wins (34), goals against average (1.58), games/minutes played (54/3,267) and shutouts (15).
Thomas signed with the Boston Bruins as a free agent on September 4, 2001 and made his NHL debut on October 19, 2002.
Thomas is a two-time Bruins Seventh Player Award winner (2006 and 2007), and has also represented the United States at six World Championships and posted a 2-1-0 record with one shutout in three games during the 2008 tournament.
On Wednesday, Bruins Principal Charlie Jacobs spoke about Thomas, and the rest of this year’s club, epitomizing the renaissance of Boston hockey.
“I find comfort in that knowing that this was a great year but I believe we have many more ahead of us, especially if we continue on this path,” said Jacobs during his end of the season conference call with the media. “There are so many great storylines within our organization right now.
“From the journeyman goaltender that turned out to be a Vezina finalist, to the…kid coming in from Western Canada in [Milan Lucic
]…to our captain [Zdeno Chara
] who has for so many years been a Norris Trophy candidate.
“I think that we’ve got a lot of great stories here that people can sink their teeth into and embrace.”
Hopefully part of that story is illustrated with Tim Thomas
embracing the Vezina Trophy in June.