Thursday, March 16, 2006

Tim Thomas: Another Unheralded Goalie

This season has had several goalies who were previously unproven in the NHL who stepped forward and played very well. this group includes Calder trophy candidate Henrik Lundqvist and Montreal Canadien Cristobal Huet. It has also included for shorter periods of time players who could not keep up their high level of play like Mike Morrison and Curtis Sanford.

Another previopusly unheralded goalie playing very well this season is Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins. Thomas is a 31 year old who looked as though he would be a career minor leaguer. In 2002/03 he played 4 NHL games. Before this season, that was his entire NHL experience. He was chosen to the US team in the 2005 World Championships of hockey. He was one of the few non-NHL players on the US team. This season he has played very well in Boston. He got a chance to play when defending rookie of the year Andrew Raycroft played poorly and rookie Hannu Toivonen could not carry the load by himself. Toivonen hurt his ankle and has been out since early January. Raycroft has also had a couple minor injuries. Thomas has filled in very well. He has a .927 saves percentage and a 2.29 GAA on a Boston team that has not played well and looks to miss the playoffs.

Why are there so many unheralded goalies who are playing well this year? in part it is due to the lockout, goalies had the chance to improve in the 2004/05 season outside of the NHL and thus do so under the radar of most fans. They might be more well known had they had the chance to play in the NHL last season. Then their current success would seem like less of a suprise.

Another big part of the reason comes from the nature of goaltending. Goaltenders (good or bad) are significant players in any game they appear in. They have the ability to significantly influence any game. Moreso than an unheralded player in another position, who likely will not get frontline ice time. Goaltending is a position of confidence. If a goalie gets "in a groove" and gets confident, he can play very well for a short period of time. Goaltending is also a position that scouts spend a lot of time analyzing. Once a goalie has a chance to play a few games and gets noticed by scouts, it is quite common for his tendencies to be analyzed and his weaknesses to be discovered and then exploited by opposing teams. The really good goalies can adjust to this and adapt their game. The flash in the pan goalies do not and often disappear from the NHL scene.

Is Tim Thomas going to be a flash in the pan and disappear? We can only guess on that. Given his age (31) he is not likely in the longterm plans of any team. However, if he continues to play well, he can have a good career for several years in his 30's (much like Dwayne Roloson who is now with the Edmonton Oilers).

Comments:
I cant understand why a guy of this caliber has gone untouched by any nhl team for so long. some very goofy politics im sure,but now he has his chance to shine & he Can,Is,& Will.
 
I cant understand why a guy of this caliber has gone untouched by any nhl team for so long. some very goofy politics im sure,but now he has his chance to shine & he Can,Is,& Will.
 
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