Tim Thomas  finally admitted after Saturday’s game that he had been thinking about the numbers, but with numbers like his, how could you blame him? Making his final start of the season Saturday, Thomas stopped 31 of 32 shots faced en route to breaking Dominik Hasek‘s single-season record for save percentage.
“To be completely honest, I had a hard time getting it off my mind over the past week or so,” Thomas said after the game. “Actually, I mentally prepared myself yesterday not to think about that and to play [so much], that I think I’m still in that mode a little bit. It hasn’t affected me. It hasn’t set in yet.”
It’s been a career year for the 36-year-old netminder, and to cap the regular season by surpassing Hasek’s mark from 1998-99 Vezina-winning campaign is only fitting. The two reckless goaltenders play similar styles, and Thomas remembers being inspired by Hasek.
Back when Hasek was racking up his .9366 mark, the best since the stat began being recorded in 1982-83, Thomas was spending his time both in Hamilton (AHL) and Finland. It was only a few years prior that the Michigan native was playing college hockey at Vermont.
“I certainly watched him when I was in college and was trying to pick things up off of him,” he said. “I didn’t try to emulate my style after him. I still have my own style. But I didn’t see some of the things that he does that I thought I could apply to my game and probably over the years it became part of my game too.
“I’ll be honest, Dominik Hasek was a hero of mine back when I was in college. A guy who played unconventional and had a ton of success. And even at college age I was already labeled as somebody with my style that I couldn’t do it at the next level. And so he was an inspiration. Actually, still seeing him, knowing that he’s playing, he won the Czech League, not this year, but the season before… I’m still impressed with what he’s been able to accomplish.”
Thomas knows his statistics like the back of his hand. He knows where he stands (upon being showed his .938155715074544 mark as a joke following the game, he responded by saying, “that’s what it went up to? Okay, because was it .9376 before. Yeah, well that’s great. That’s awesome.”) but he doesn’t feel he stands alone. He gave credit to his teammates, and more notably, captain Zdeno Chara .
“That number is a testament to the team in front of me and the way that they battled for me all year long, defensemen and forwards,” Thomas said. “It also reflects probably one of the best, if not the best defenseman in our world out there in front of me that I think should be getting a little bit more Norris talk than at least I’ve heard. Maybe he is, I don’t know. I don’t hear that much. He’s been stellar for us all year playing against the top players on every team, night in and night our and just doing a great job. So that number is the team number.”