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How far do Vezina winners take their teams in the playoffs? 03.31.11 at 12:03 am ET
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Tim Thomas won the Vezina Trophy in 2009.

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.

Read More: 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, Martin Brodeur, Tim Thomas, Tiny Thompson
Milt Schmidt meant more to Tim Thomas than Phil Kessel 10.29.10 at 1:14 am ET
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Don’t get Tim Thomas wrong. He still respects Phil Kessel.

It’s just that on this night – one to honor a man with 75 years of history with the Boston Bruins – it was more important for the goalie to focus on getting the win, not the lightning rod of the Hub’s hockey fans.

And focus is exactly what Thomas did, turning away all 20 shots over 60 minutes in posting his 19th career shutout – a 2-0 dispatch of the Toronto Maple Leafs before a fired-up TD Garden sellout crowd.

“Yeah, you know, it being Milt Schmidt night, the best thing we could do for him I think was to get a win, and so we were trying hard to get a good result,” Thomas said. “I mean, just listening to the accomplishments, that that man has had as part of the Bruins organization, and he deserved the win tonight, so we were focusing on that.

“Now as far as Phil Kessel goes, the other side of that coin there the you’re talking about, we’re not thinking about that We’re thinking about the two points. We needed the win. Especially we needed to bounce back after a loss, so we’re not thinking about individuals like that. At least, I’m not.”

That doesn’t mean Kessel didn’t have his chances. He had six shots on net, including one point-blank in the second period when Kessel came up the slot and took possession of a loose puck in front of Thomas.

“Oh, was it? On the other side? Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, I remember that,” Thomas recalled.

When you’re stopping players like Phil Kessel point blank, you’re likely putting up great numbers. And that’s what Thomas has been doing, ever since getting the start in the season’s second game.

He has two shutouts, including Thursday’s 2-0 win. He is a perfect 5-0 with a 0.60 goals against average. His save percentage is a near-perfect .980.

Is the best start he’s ever had?

“Well, probably statistically? I feel obviously that I’m playing good. The team is playing very well in front of me. They’re really helping me out with rebounds, screens, blocking in the screens, I mean. [Dennis] Seidenberg had as many saves as I did tonight, and that’s making it very helpful.”

The five straight wins to start a season is the best by a Boston goalie since Tiny Thompson went 6-0-0 in his first six games of the 1937-38 season.

Added coach Claude Julien, “Solid again. I think we can’t say enough about the way he’s played. What I liked about his game too, you know, they had some shots from the point and he did a great job of not giving any rebounds. He kept those inside of him. I thought he did a great job of smothering those loose pucks and just solid challenging and confident.”

Read More: Boston Bruins, Milt Schmidt, NHL, Tim Thomas
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