Bruins year in review: Save of the year
|06.21.11 at 2:11 am ET|
Each day this week, WEEI.com will be taking a look back at the Bruins’ historic 2010-11 Stanley Cup Championship season. We started it off by looking at the goal of the year and fight of the year. Up today is save of the year, and it should be fresh enough in people’s minds to remember.
SAVE OF THE YEAR
Tim Thomas on Steve Downie, Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay
“I was thinking, ‘Thank God he saved it.’ We were up by one goal in Game 5, so that was possibly the turning point in the series. They could have scored, won, gained momentum and had a chance to go back home and win. I was happy, but there’s been a lot of moments like that when there’s just a sigh of relief that ‘there he goes again.’ As amazing as his saves are, I don’t think anybody in here is amazed that he makes them, because he’s so good.”
A shoo-in for the Vezina, Tim Thomas had enough candidates for this before Game 5 of the Eastern Conference finals vs. the Lightning. Then he turned in what may be remembered as one of the greatest stick saves of all time when the stakes were just about as high as they could be.
With the series tied at two games apiece and the Bruins holding onto a 2-1 lead in the third period, Eric Brewer took a slapshot from the point that went wide of Thomas’ net. With Thomas at the top of the crease, it would seem that Steve Downie would be a fortunate man to have the puck bounce off the endboards and right to him next to the net. Downie went to put the put in the net to tie the game, but Thomas came to the rescue, knocking the puck down in mid-air with his stick despite hitting the post with his blade. No player had a better view of the play than Gregory Campbell, so his amazement with Thomas’ save should not be taken lightly.
The save yielded an insane reaction from the Garden crowd, and the Lightning would not get another opportunity like that for the rest of the game. Tampa would eventually pull Mike Smith for an extra attacker, and Rich Peverley would put the game away with an empty netter.
This was just one of the many outstanding saves Thomas made in a postseason in which he was the easy Conn Smythe winner. While his regular season was record-setting, his postseason was even better. There may be no better illustration of how Thomas stepped up than that save.
HONORABLE MENTION: Tim Thomas on Brian Gionta (Game 5 of quarterfinals), Tim Thomas on Francois Beauchemin (Dec. 4), Tuukka Rask on Kyle Brodziak (Jan. 6)