The Boston Bruins continue on toward the playoffs. Winners of their last five, the Bruins have 50 wins and with a win over the Rangers Saturday afternoon, will clinch the best record in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2004. They won a couple of hard fought games against teams that they should beat. And they signed my choice for 2009 Vezina Trophy, Tim Thomas to a snappy new four year contract. A perfect time for me, with the help of my friend Stephen to explain why Thomas should no doubt be the winner.He has been the model of consistency in goal for the B’s. when all else failed the team, Thomas was the brick in the wall that never faultered. Because Stovie is a much better stat geek than I am and analyzes all things hockey, the following is his take on the Vezina balloting and I whole-heartedly agree:
First Wins: At this point Miikka Kiprusoff of the Flames is running away with this, his 43 wins gives him 4 more than #2 Evgeni Nabokov. But his other stats are weak, a 2.85 gaa, and a save percentage barely above 90. Nabokov of the Sharks is a more likely candidate. 5th is Niklas Backstrom of Minnesota with 34 and both Tim Thomas and Steve Mason of the Bruins and the Blue Jackets respectively are tied at 7th with 32. Roberto Luongo of Vancouver comes in at 11 with 30 wins.I’ve left out a bunch of goalies who have no shot at the trophy, but rank high in one or two of these categories (such as Martin Brodeur). Second, Goals Against Average: Tim Thomas is seven full points above the #2 goalie, with a 2.13 gaa, Steve Mason is third with 2.22, Roberto Luongo is 5th with 2.34, Niklas Backstrom is 7th with 2.35, and Nabokov of SJ is 9th with a 2.41. Third, Save Percentage: Tim Thomas is way ahead again, with a .931. Niklas Backstrom is 7th with a .922, Roberto Luongo is tied at 8th with Steve Mason and a .920. This is a weak category for Evgeni Nabokov, who is ranked 22nd with a .912. Others who should receive some note here are: Jonas Hiller of the Ducks and Pekka Rinne of Nashville just didn’t play enough games to win the thing, and Thomas Vokoun was a good goalie on a bad team. So let’s pick our three finalists:Niklas Backstrom of Minnesota got off to a great start, but has trailed off of late, and his team is out of the playoffs as of now, and probably won’t make it, so he’s out.And I’m going to leave out Luongo, he just didn’t play enough games to this point (although it’s close). Having said that, I would guess that he will make the final three, name recognition pushing him over the top. If I were voting, my three finalists would be: Evgeni Nabokov of San JoseSteve Mason of Columbusand Tim Thomas of Boston. Nabokov’s very low save percentage knocks him out. Mason has played six more games than Thomas, both have 32 wins, and Thomas’ goals against and save percentage are considerably lower than Mason’s. One category where Mason dominates is shutouts, having ten to Thomas’ four (Mason lead in this category, the next closest goalie has 7). It’s very close, but I’m going to take the homer route and go with Tim Thomas.
Who is going to argue with Stovie’s logic!