Boston Bruins Goalie Tim Thomas: The Modern Dominik Hasek
With a 13-2-1 record to compliment a .956 save percentage, 1.44 goals against average and 5 shutouts, Thomas has easily been the most impressive goalie in the NHL this season.
Thomas' unorthodox style is reminiscent of Hall Of Fame goalie Dominik Hasek—"How did he do that?!" plays that can be credited to flexibility, athleticism and a spectacular eye for the puck.
However, Thomas' story is what makes him so much more unorthodox.
He played with the University of Vermont between 1993 and 1997, but didn't make his NHL debut until the 2002-2003 season with the Boston Bruins. He spent time in the SM-liiga in Finland, the ECHL, the IHL, the AHL, and the SEL in Sweden.
Despite the fact that he made his debut with the Bruins in 2002, he never became a permanent roster player until 2005-06 at age 31. In 2008-09, Thomas was the recipient of the Vezina Trophy, and has a chance to add another Vezina to his mantle this summer.
It seems that whenever people doubt Thomas the most, is when he plays his best. After an average 2009-2010 and off-season hip surgery, most people thought Thomas would be Tuukka Rask's backup. Rask had a fantastic season last year, and led the NHL in most major goalie categories. People doubted him. He rose to the occasion.
Hasek is currently the NHL's all-time leader with a .9223 save percentage. Guess who's in second. If you guessed Tim Thomas, you guessed correctly. Thomas has a career .9202 save percentage.
It is pretty easy to see why Thomas is often compared to Hasek. When you watch some of the saves that Hasek used to make and then watch Thomas, it is almost as if they are the same player.
Thomas and Hasek's similarities go beyond their abilities as goaltenders. They are both among the most intense goaltenders to ever play the game. Granted neither of them has the temper of Patrick Roy, but their fire is part of what makes them so great.
The biggest separation between the two is that Hasek had a conventional NHL career, while Thomas has had to fight through years of adversity to get here. The longevity, and the fact that Thomas is playing in the post-lockout era are significant enough to keep him out of Hasek's league. However, Thomas has the second highest save percentage in the post-lockout era behind only Thomas Vokoun.
The thing is, if Thomas can continue to play at this level, he could put together a nice 10+ year career together (he is currently playing in his fifth season), and prove the doubters wrong again.
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