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Top Goalie So Far This Season

Less than a week ago I picked Jonathan Quick of the Los Angeles Kings as the top goalie so far this season.  He was the best of a crowded group of top goalies in part because of the high number of saves he has had to make with the Kings.  Very quickly things have changed.  Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins has emerged as the top goalie so far this season. 

Thomas has a .941 saves percentage and 1.83 GAA.  These are even better numbers than he had in either of his two previous Vezina Trophy seasons.  The only goalie in the league who has comparable numbers is Brian Elliott of the St Louis Blues.  He is nominally a backup goalie, though he has split the Blues goaltending work with Jaroslav Halak so far this season.  Thomas has not played as many games as some other goalies either because Tuukka Rask is a solid backup in Boston.

Other goalies led in the early Vezina race because they played more regularly than either of these goalies but with sufficient time, Thomas has shown himself to be the top goalie in the league.  Given his track record, Thomas is a better bet to keep playing at this rate than Brian Elliott. 

Thomas has been the top goalie in the NHL in the last few years.  Last season he set a record for the highest saves percentage in a full season since the NHL has kept that statistic.  He won the Vezina Trophy and Conn Smythe Trophy.  He won the Vezina Trophy two years earlier as well.  This is likely the core of a Hall of Fame career.  With another top season, not necessarily even a Vezina Trophy season, I would classify him as a future Hall of Famer regardless of the rest of his career.  Thomas was a slow starter.  He first became an NHL regular at age 31 in 2005/06 and an NHL starter the next season.  He was 34 in his first Vezina trophy season and 36 in his second.  This will likely give him a short prime as he is no longer a young man, but it has been a remarkable one.

If Thomas can stay at a top level a little longer, I think he will be a Hall of Famer.  He can drop in his effectiveness this season and still accomplish that.

Tim Thomas is the top goaltender in the league.  He has been the top goaltender so far this season.  Were he to keep up that pace, he would win the third Vezina Trophy in four years.  Since the Vezina Trophy has become an award voted upon by the general managers, only three goalies have accomplished this in Dominik Hasek, Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.  Thomas is an elite goalie to be close to entering that group.

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Comments

w2j2's avatar

I agree.  I find it amazing that his NHL career took off at age 31.  I hope he can stay at the top of his game for many years to come.  What a great guy with a great story.

Posted by w2j2 on 12/11/11 at 04:25 AM ET

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Thomas is good no doubt, but I’m not sure you should abandon your earlier pick so quickly. As we see one bad night has altered Tim’s numbers (since its still not even the halfway mark). I thought your argument about volume of shots was strong and by comparison Tim plays on a strong team with Chara on defense.

At what point do think games played becomes and issue by season end if Tim Thomas is still more or less in the same situation after 82 but say played only 56-58 games vs say Rinne on a pace for 70+ games. Theoretically save percentage would cover that but not account for Thomas being protected from back to back games or days when he is not 100%.

In fact Thomas has a light work load on a regular basis over the past several seasons I wonder how he would fare if pushed to play 70+ games not just once but season over season?

Posted by paulklos on 12/11/11 at 12:24 PM ET

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imageThe Puck Stops Here was founded during the 2004/05 lockout as a place to rant about hockey. The original site contains over 1000 posts, some of which were also published on FoxSports.com.

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