Tim Thomas Still Remains the Favorite for the Conn Smythe Trophy

Warren ShawCorrespondent IIJune 13, 2011

Tim Thomas is a Vezina finalist and Conn Smythe favorite
Tim Thomas is a Vezina finalist and Conn Smythe favoriteElsa/Getty Images

The Boston Bruins' goaltender Tim Thomas could be well on his way to achieving a rare NHL feat accomplished by only five other players in league history.

Thomas has performed so well in the NHL Stanley Cup playoffs that if Boston can make it to Game 7, he will almost assuredly win the coveted Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoffs MVP, whether the Bruins are victorious or not.

The unique thing about the Smythe trophy is that it is awarded based on the entire playoffs, not just the final playoff series.

Thomas’s play has been dominating and breathtaking. On several occasions game highlight films would be filled with saves by Thomas. His instinctive, athletic acrobatics have made the Boston team a hard one to forecast defeat for.

The Boston Bruins, backstopped by the goaltending of Thomas, have even surprised the Stanley Cup favorite Vancouver Canucks, winning playoff games by an unexpected goal total and losing by one goal.

The Canucks were picked as favorites prior to the start of the season and with players like Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Roberto Luongo. That's no surprise when you consider that Thomas broke the record for save percentage, beating Dominik Hasek’s .937 mark during the regular season.

With his .938 save percentage in the record books, Thomas was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy along with Roberto Luongo and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne.

If he wins, he will join several other goaltenders whose play kept their teams in the postseason long after they should have been eliminated if not for the goaltenders.

Jean Sebastian Giguere, Ron Hextall, and all managed to win the award despite their teams being unable to capture the Cup.

Reggie Leach was the only forward who was named a Smythe winner based on his amazing 19-goal performance in the 1976 playoffs versus the Montreal Canadians.

The thing that makes Thomas such a favorite is his lunch box history.

His rise to the NHL was far more arduous than most goaltenders taking him to the IHL and Europe before finally landing in the National Hockey League.

Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo, in a postgame interview after the Canucks' 1-0 win on Friday, suggested that he would have made the save that Thomas was unable to in the loss.

The thing is Thomas has kept the Bruins competitive in all of the Finals games. Despite the loss in the last game, head coach Claude Julien had several positives to point to, including more impressive wins and close losses.  

Luongo, also a Vezina finalist and Conn Smythe hopeful, has contributed the stimuli that will likely ratchet up Game 6 to the highest RPMs possible.

If there is a Game 7, it will be one for the books.

There is no question that goaltenders have driven this series and Game Six will further display who the Conn Smythe Trophy winner will be.