|How far do Vezina winners take their teams in the playoffs?||03.31.11 at 12:03 am ET|
Everyone knows that goaltending plays a major role in the postseason. It isn’t always about who has the best goalie, but who has the hotter goalie.
This season, the Bruins have the best goalie, as Tim Thomas seems to have all but sewn up the Vezina. So, if Thomas is awarded the trophy this summer in Las Vegas, will he receive it having recently won the Stanley Cup? We take a look at how far goaltenders’ teams have gone in the playoffs in their Vezina-winning seasons.
First, here are some quick numbers on Thomas if he is to win the Vezina this year:
– He will become the first Bruins goaltender to win it since some guy named Tim Thomas way back in 2008-09.
– He will become the fifth goalie to win multiple Vezinas since the adoption of its current criteria in 1982 (it had previously been awarded to the goalie who played the majority of the games for whichever team allowed allowed the fewest goals). He would join an elite class of all-time greats, as Dominik Hasek (six), Martin Brodeur (four), Patrick Roy (three) and Ed Belfour (two) have also won the trophy multiple times since then.
– Since 1982, only Thomas and Pete Peeters (1983) have won the Vezina while playing for the Bruins.
– Thomas would become the third Bruins goaltender to win multiple Vezinas, joining Tiny Thompson (four) and Frank Brimsek (two). He would join Thompson as the only Boston goaltenders to win two Vezinas over the span of three seasons. Thompson won it in 1936 and 1938, and also won in 1930 and 1933.
Now here’s a look at how the teams of goalies that won the Vezina recently fared in the playoffs that season:
2010: Ryan Miller — Sabres eliminated in first round
2009: Tim Thomas – Bruins eliminated in second round
2008: Martin Brodeur — Devils eliminated in first round
2007: Martin Brodeur — Devils eliminated in second round
2006: Miikka Kiprusoff — Flames eliminated in first round
2005: Season cancelled due to lockout
2004: Martin Brodeur — Devils eliminated in first round
2003: Martin Brodeur — Devils won Stanley Cup
2002: Jose Theodore — Canadiens eliminated in second round
2001: Dominik Hasek — Sabres eliminated in second round
2000: Olaf Kolzig — Capitals eliminated in first round
Note that only Brodeur in 2003 even led his team past the second round. Since 1988, only two teams with Vezina winners have won the Cup that season. The Bruins are trying to prove they can make it to the Eastern Conference finals after knocking on the door, the past two seasons, so judging by these numbers, they might have to hope that history doesn’t repeat itself.
|Are the Bruins this year’s Blackhawks? The Blackhawks can see the signs||03.30.11 at 10:54 am ET|
After a game like Tuesday’s, there is most certainly a temptation to look ahead to how far this Bruins team could be going in the Stanley Cup playoffs. It’s especially tempting when you consider the Bruins dismantled the team that won the Cup last June.
But Tim Thomas isn’t biting, not even after stopping all 32 shots in a 3-0 win over the Blackhawks.
“Haven’t thought about it at all, to be honest with you,” Thomas said after his career-best ninth shutout this season and 26th career. “I’m just focusing on each game-to-game, and even during the game just trying to play the same way for the whole 60 minutes no matter what the situation. We’re pretty good about not think about that kind of stuff lately, so I’d prefer not to start now, if you don’t mind.
“This was a good challenge for us. Chicago is a good team, I know they’re battling for a playoff spot in the Western Conference. But that’s a good thing because you know they’re going to bring their ‘A’ game, because those points mean a lot to them. It was a big test, and we responded very well. They’re a very fast team and we had our legs going right from the beginning of the game and were able to match them stride for stride.”
If the Bruins are headed for a deep run this spring, Thomas will be a good reason. He turned away every scoring chance in the first period, discouraging the defending Stanley Cup champion Blackhawks so much that even their coach felt his team — battling for its playoff life — was discouraged.
“They were the harder working team tonight,” Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. “They play hard. First 10 minutes, we are on our heels. We got back in the game and we didn’t do much after they scored first.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Tim Thomas blanks Blackhawks for ninth shutout||03.29.11 at 10:03 pm ET|
Thomas made 32 saves on the night, improving his record to 33-10-8.
After a scoreless first period, the B’s got second-period tallies from Zdeno Chara and Johnny Boychuk. Nathan Horton provided the Bruins with some extra breathing room in the third period when he beat Chicago goaltender Corey Crawford his 24th of the season.
The win brought the B’s within three points of the Capitals for second place in the Eastern Conference, as Washington lost in a shootout Tuesday. The B’s have played 76 games to the Capitals’ 77. Should the teams end up finishing the season with the same point total, the Bruins would likely hold the tie-breaker, as they currently have more wins in games determined in regulation.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Mark Recchi now has 12th place on the list of career points all to himself. His assist on Johnny Boychuk’s goal gave him 1,532 points, breaking his tie with Paul Coffey. Recchi would need to play another season to get to Ray Bourque‘s 1579.
– Thomas was in danger of giving up the league lead in goals against average a couple of weeks ago, but his play of late has given him some separation from Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne. Thomas has allowed just one goal over his last three starts, the second time he has had such a three-game stretch. The Bruins did an excellent job of clearing loose pucks in front of the net from the get-go Tuesday, greatly helping Thomas’ cause.
– The interesting story line of Michael Ryder‘s healthy scratches could continue, as Paille has made good use of his spot in the lineup the last two games. Paille picked up a helper on Horton’s goal, getting the puck in front from behind the net.
– Don’t look now, but Johnny Boychuk has two goals in his last four games. Of course, he had just one goal on the season prior to his goal against the Canadiens last Thursday, so the chances anyone worries about his scoring touch aren’t very big.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins did not have a power play the entire game. It was the eighth game that they have had one or zero power plays. Interestingly enough, they are 7-0-1 in those games.
– Shawn Thornton left the game in the second period after getting cut above the eye and did not return. Bleeding from the face, Thornton shoved referee Don VanMassenhoven as he was passing the Chicago bench on his way off the ice, seemingly because Blackhawks were chirping from the bench.
– Another night of solid play but no production from the third line. Tyler Seguin and Chris Kelly had an opportunity on Crawford in the first period, but Seguin’s pass in front of the net was just out of Kelly’s reach. Seguin has just one goal over his last 15 games.
|Bruins, Blackhawks skate to scoreless first period||at 8:15 pm ET|
The Bruins and Blackhawks skated to a scoreless first period at TD Garden, but both teams have come out with energy Tuesday night.
The Bruins are playing a responsible defensive game thus far, as they have done a good job of getting back and have cleared out the loose pucks in front of Tim Thomas. As a result, the Blackhawks have only five shots on goal. The B’s had 12 in the first.
|Brad Marchand lifts Bruins past Flyers, 2-1||03.27.11 at 9:44 pm ET|
Brad Marchand made his 20th goal of the season count, as he broke a late tie to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead over the Flyers in Philadelphia Sunday night. With the win, Boston clinches a playoff spot.
Marchand’s tally was his first in 13 games, as he banged home a rebound past Flyers netminder Brian Boucher on the power play at 16:17 of the third period. Both Bruins’ goals came on the man advantage, as Nathan Horton scored his 23rd goal of the season with the B’s on the power play in the second period. Kris Versteeg opened the game’s scoring with a tally for the Flyers in the first period.
Picking up the victory for the Bruins was Tim Thomas, who won his third game in a row and improved his record on the season to 32-10-8.
|Tuukka Rask: Don’t need to be a ‘rocket scientist’ to see Tim Thomas should start playoffs||03.23.11 at 1:26 pm ET|
WILMINGTON — Bruins president Cam Neely raised eyebrows recently on CBS radio when he said that the team’s goaltenders needed to “show us who’s ready to be the goalie for the playoffs.” Tim Thomas is the favorite to win the Vezina trophy after posting historic numbers in the first half of the season, while Tuukka Rask has seen improved play since getting more time in the second half of the season. Since the All-Star break, Rask has started nine of the B’s 22 games after starting 15 of the first 50.
Speaking to WEEI.com Wednesday, Rask offered his thoughts on whether the Bruins have a No. 1 guy for the playoffs.
“Well, you don’t have to be a [expletive] rocket scientist,” Rask said with a smile. “[Thomas] is playing every game.”
While Rask, who started every game of the playoffs last season, might not necessarily think there is an open competition over the final 10 games of the season, he does embrace being part of such a strong goaltending tandem and hopes it pays dividends in the postseason.
“We’ll see what happens,” Rask said. “Obviously to succeed you’re going to need two goalies to get going because you never know what’s going to happen in the playoffs. I like the thought that we have two No. 1 guys, but it doesn’t necessarily mean we’ll both play.”
|Tim Thomas returns to form following four straight losses||03.22.11 at 10:49 pm ET|
Tim Thomas entered Tuesday night in the midst of his worst stretch of the season. He hadn’t won a game in nearly three weeks, going 0-2-2 in his last four starts. It marked the first time all season he had gone four games without a win and the first time all season he had given up three or more goals in four straight.
Tuesday night, Thomas returned to form in the Bruins’ 4-1 win over the Devils. He stopped 30 of the 31 shots he faced to earn his 30th win of the season.
‘I think it was mutual for both, the team and Timmy,’ Bruins coach Claude Julien said of getting back in the win column. ‘I don’t think we have to worry about him. He’s been a good goaltender for us this year, so it certainly wasn’t a concern on our part more than our team play. And our team play was much better.’
Thomas was especially strong in the early going, as the Devils registered 12 of the game’s first 13 shots. New Jersey did manage to score during that span, but it came on a power-play one-timer by Ilya Kovalchuk that Thomas didn’t have much of a chance to stop.
‘I thought we were a little fragile there with what’s been happening,’ Julien said. ‘But we were able to resist and obviously Tim made some big saves early on just to keep us in there.’
Thomas said the key to turning around his recent lack of success was that his defensemen did a better job of allowing him to see the puck.
‘They had a few shots, they had a few good chances,’ Thomas said. ‘But they were also letting me see the puck a little bit more than we had in the last few games. ‘¦ I think that’s definitely a right step forward. We need to build off it and make sure we continue on. And we need to do the same things that gave us success tonight.’
Defenseman Tomas Kaberle said getting out of Thomas’ way is something the team has been focusing on in practice.
‘You want him to see the shot,’ Kaberle said. ‘You don’t want to tip the puck or something. You just want to box out in front of the net and hopefully he’ll make the big saves. Especially on the outside, he’s going to make the save every time. We talked about it before the game and in between the periods. He’s been a key to success for us this season and hopefully we keep it that way.’
After the slow start, Boston was able to take control of the game and relieve Thomas of some of the pressure. Following the early 12-1 shot deficit, the Bruins outshot the Devils 29-19 the rest of the way. They also drew five straight penalties at one point and were able to net four unanswered goals.
‘I think by the end of the first, or last half of the first period, we started to get our legs moving and that was the difference,’ Thomas said. ‘I think that’s what led to them taking the penalties in the second period, because we were moving our feet and that leads to penalties, drawn penalties. We were able to continue that throughout the game.’