2011 NHL Stanley Cup Finals: Tim Thomas vs Roberto Luongo

Tom Urtz Jr.@@TomUrtzJrContributor IMay 28, 2011

BOSTON, MA - MAY 27:  Tim Thomas #30 of the Boston Bruins makes a first period save in Game Seven of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Tampa Bay Lightning during the 2011 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden on May 27, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Jim Rogash/Getty Images

The time has come, the date is set, and we are ready for the Stanley Cup Finals. The Vancouver Canucks will host the Boston Bruins on Wednesday for Game 1.

With that in mind it is time to break down the goaltending. This series will pit two of this year’s Vezina candidates against each other. 

In the blue corner, sporting blue and green trunks, from Montreal, Quebec, Canada, standing at 6'3" and weighing 217 lbs, Roberto Luongo.

Roberto Luongo is a butterfly goalie. His claim to fame, hardware-wise, is an Olympic gold medal won at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics. Luongo has played great for Vancouver since being tested against the Chicago Blackhawks during the quarterfinals round. 

Luongo has been the butt of many a joke due to his inconsistent play over the years, but by taking the Canucks to the finals, he may finally be able to shut up his critics. So far, Luongo has posted a record of 12-6 with a GAA OF 2.29 and a SV% of .922. These numbers are in the same ballpark of what Luongo posted during the regular season. 

Roberto Luongo has been able to remain calm cool and collected and this was displayed when the Canucks dispatched of the Sharks and Predators in six games a peace. What is interesting about Luongo is how he accomplished alot this season despite suffering a groin injury in the preseason and having to deal with his long time friend and goalie coach, Ian Clark getting fired.

This year Luongo made several changes to his stance and playing style. In the past Luongo employed a more aggressive style in which he attacked shooters early. Instead he adopted a style similar to Henrik Lundqvist in which Luongo would hang back in the crease and would wait for the shooter to make the first move.

These subtle yet effective changes along with the pressure and burden of the captaincy removed from his shoulders, have allowed Luongo to play with a determined focus.

Keys for Success

- Hang back in net.
- Rely on defensemen to limit amount of shots on goal.

While Luongo may be one great goalie, Tim Thomas for the Boston Bruins may give him a run for his money in these Stanley Cup Finals.

In the black corner, sporting yellow trunks, from Flint, Michigan standing 5'11" in and weighing in at 201 lbs, Tim “The Tank” Thomas.

Tim Thomas is a Vezina Trophy winner and has one of the most inspirational stories in the history of the NHL.

Thomas spent most of his prime and youth playing hockey overseas. After leaving the University of Vermont, Thomas bounced back and forth between the AHL, ECHL and IHL before eventually settling into his role for Jokerit in SM-Liiga.

When he finally got his call-up to the big show, he ran with it. During one offseason, Thomas began a yoga-based physical conditioning program to increase his flexibility and strength, a concept that would greatly increase his abilities.

Fast-forwarding to the present, Thomas had a great season. He eclipsed Dominik Hasek’s save percentage record of .937 by posting a SV% of .938.Thomas may win his second Vezina Trophy this season.

Tim Thomas has been a Jekyl and Hyde goalie during these playoffs. He has been lights out  brilliant especially during his two shutouts, and he has been dreadful as seen in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals.

Thomas started out as a dominant force against the upstart Lightning. However, he and the Lightning blew a three-goal lead in Game 4, which allowed the Lightning to hang around. The one fact that has remained constant though is Thomas has been no where near as good he was during the regular season. This is not a knock in anyway because Thomas posted some severe lights-out numbers during the regular season.

Keys for Success:

- Remain confident.
- Swallow up rebounds.
- Prove why he is a Vezina winner.

An interesting statistic is that Luongo has faced 528 shots thus far. Thomas has faced 603.  This statistic has the chance to play a big role in the Stanley Cup Finals. Vancouver is armed with a multifaceted high-octane cocktail consisting of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Ryan Kesler and Alex Burrows. Will Thomas be able to stand tall in the face of all these massive and gifted scorers?

At the same time, will Luongo be able to withstand the lethal slappers of Tomas Kaberle and Zdeno Chara at both points? Luongo will also have to deal with Milan Lucic, David Krejci, Nathan Horton and Tyler Seguin.

What is clear is the following: This Stanley Cup Final is full of some must-see nonstop action. Two teams that have suffered droughts hope to quench their thirst and drink of the eternal glory that only Lord Stanley’s Cup can provide.

Here's the full schedule, courtesy of NHL.com:

Game 1: Wednesday, June 1 in Vancouver at 8 p.m. ET (NBC)

Game 2: Saturday, June 4 in Vancouver at 8 p.m. ET (NBC)

Game 3: Monday, June 6 in Boston at 8 p.m. ET (Versus)

Game 4: Wednesday, June 8 in Boston at 8 p.m. ET (Versus)

Game 5*: Friday, June 10 in Vancouver at 8 p.m. ET (NBC)

Game 6*: Monday, June 13 in Boston at 8 p.m. ET (NBC)

Game 7*: Wednesday, June 15 in Vancouver at 8 p.m. ET (NBC)

*If needed

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