It's out with the old, in with the new in Boston: Boston Bruins’ goaltender Tim Thomas announced he will take the 2012-13 season off to spend more time with friends and family.
Providing there is a 2012-13 season, the Bruins will be looking to backup goalie Tuukka Rask to start—a blessing in disguise for Boston.
Though this is a little quicker than Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli had anticipated, his plan was always to get Tuukka in as the starter.
"All along we've been working on what I call a succession plan, where we were going to pass the baton to Tuukka," Chiarelli told Ottawa radio station the Team 1200 earlier this month (via NHL.com). "That's what I've been telling him since he's been 20. This probably accelerates it by a year, but it's his chance to show us he's a true No. 1. I've always told him we'd like to have him on the Bruins for his whole career, so this is a good opportunity for him."
Rask is a heck of a goalie and should have no problems filling in for Thomas. After a season with Rask as the starter, Bruins fans will not even remember who brought them the Stanley Cup in 2011.
Okay, maybe they will.
However, they will have no problem watching Rask amass win after win for seasons to come.
Here are five reasons why Rask will make Boston fans forget about Thomas.
The stats do not lie. Tuukka Rask has better numbers than Tim Thomas. Rask not only has better 2012 numbers than Thomas, he also has better career numbers.
Last season, Rask had a goals-against average of just over two (2.05) and a save percentage of .929. Thomas amassed a 2.36 goals-against average and a save percentage of .920.
As for career numbers, Rask has a 2.20 goals-against average and a save percentage of .926. Thomas has a 2.48 goals-against average and a save percentage of .921.
Thomas has more wins than Rask because, as the starter for the Bruins, Thomas has played in more games. However, these statistics are enough to validate Rask’s potential to be a better goalie than Thomas.
Goalies tend to get better with age—except for Tuukka Rask. The 25-year-old has shown that he already has a knack for saving pucks.
With a talented, young goalie like Rask, Boston could have a stellar goaltender for at least the next decade. Rask’s youth helps ensure his ability to stay quick and focused during games.
While some veteran goaltenders fare well in the NHL, they are almost always bested by younger, more talented goalies.
This was the case for the New Jersey Devils against the Los Angeles Kings in the playoffs, and it was the case with Boston’s own Thomas against the Washington Capitals’ Braden Holtby in the first round.
Rask has an aggressive attitude and uncanny work ethic. This, along with his age and his big 6’2” frame make him an ideal starting goaltender for Boston.
Much like the New Jersey Devils’ Martin Brodeur, Tim Thomas plays an old-school, stand-up style of goaltending—a style that has been thwarted by the goalies of today time and time again.
Tuukka Rask’s hybrid style is the pinnacle of new-age goaltending, which has propelled many of the NHL’s young goaltenders all the way to the cup.
There is a reason why Thomas always makes the highlight reels with overly theatrical saves—his aggressive movements in net leave the goal wide open for rebounds, forcing him to dive in desperation.
His inability to play the butterfly makes him vulnerable to ice-level slap shots and causes him to sacrifice his composure.
In the 2012 playoffs, two old dogs—Martin Brodeur and Tim Thomas—were both beaten by young goalies familiar with the butterfly style of goaltending. The two veteran netminders just did not have the physicality to dive all over the crease.
Rask is exceptional at the hybrid style of goaltending. He works the butterfly when he needs to and is also not afraid to stay on his feet and flash the glove.
Boston fans can expect a much different outcome in the first round of the 2013 playoffs with Rask manning the net.
Oddly enough, Schneider and Rask—backup goalie rivals during the 2011 Stanley Cup finals—will become the starting guys for their respective teams this upcoming season.
Many teams feel obligated to keep the older guy in net, especially if he has brought the franchise to the cup in the past. The New Jersey Devils just recently signed 40-year-old Martin Brodeur to a two-year contract worth $9 million—a very risky and expensive signing for a goalie in the latter half of his career
In that sense, Tim Thomas taking the season off is a blessing. This gives Boston a chance to kick off the next generation of goaltending with Tuukka Rask.
Tuukka Rask is a no-nonsense goalie. His passion for the game and drive to get better will prompt him to work hard for years to come.
The above video shows Rask during an AHL game in which he was a goalie for the Providence Bruins. Rask is burned by a controversial shot from an Albany River Rats player, who scores after initially fanning on the puck inside of the crease and skating back to shoot the puck.
A shootout shot is supposed to be void as soon as the continuous forward motion of the player is broken—the first goal should not have counted.
The second goal is a bit harder to decide. Nevertheless, Rask insists it hit the post and goes on a rampage when the ref declares the shot a goal.
Rask is a passionate goalie who works too hard to have games unfairly taken away from him. Rask’s hugely competitive attitude will help him grow into one of the best goalies in the game.