Tim Thomas played out of his mind during the Boston Bruins’ 2011 Stanley Cup run.
The veteran goalie was vital to the team’s playoff success, stopping a total of 798 shots and leading all postseason netminders with a .940 save percentage and a 1.98 goals-against average.
Still, the stats don’t tell the full story.
It’s not just about the number of saves Thomas made. It’s about the types of saves he came up with en route to earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the Stanley Cup playoffs.
So, let’s celebrate Thomas’ birthday — he turned 46 on Wednesday — by reliving his top five saves from the Bruins’ 2011 Cup run.
No. 5: Stanley Cup Final Game 3 vs. Vancouver Canucks
Thomas essentially pulled off the one-two punch with this pair of saves. After Vancouver’s Mason Raymond made light work of Dennis Seidenberg, Thomas stopped the initial shot and the rebound bid, nearly falling into a split in the process. Ouch.
At this point, it was a 0-0 game late in the first period and the Bruins already were down 2-0 in the series. So, had Thomas not come up with this save, it could’ve changed the course of history.
No. 4: Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Why Thomas ended up with his back to the play, we may never know. But the fact he still made the save is remarkable. Thomas stopped the first shot at the top of the crease from Tampa Bay’s Teddy Purcell. Then, after facing the end boards, the B’s goalie completed a 360-spin back around to block a second shot from Vincent Lecavalier.
When the Lightning center made contact with the puck, Thomas still had his back to the play. He didn’t see the puck until it was halfway to the goal.
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No. 3: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 6 vs. Montreal Canadiens
Thomas might have had a little luck with this one. But sometimes, that’s what it takes. He dove to the opposite side of the crease just in time to stop a shot from Montreal’s Brian Gionta. Thomas didn’t have time to get into position, so he threw himself and stacked his pads to cut down the angle.
He wound up making a stick save, as the puck was stopped by the knob of Thomas’ stick and deflected up and over the net.
No. 2: Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 5 vs. Montreal Canadiens
The fact this save was in double overtime makes it that much bigger. Thomas denied Gionta again, this time one game earlier in the series in a two-on-one with Travis Moen. When Moen slipped the puck back to Gionta, Thomas dove to the opposite side and blocked the puck with his left pad.
The speed alone of this breakout play is enough to make things unsettling. Not to mention the fact Thomas had to go post to post to avoid giving Moen the shot seconds prior.
No. 1: Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay Lightning
Logistically, this move never should’ve worked — yet, it did. Thomas was at the top of the crease on the opposite side of the puck. He also was tied up with traffic in front of the net, so initially, he couldn’t even see the puck.
Thomas dove to the right side, off-balanced, stretching his stick to the post. And somehow, he stopped the puck clean and sent it back out of the crease.
It’s no wonder Thomas won not just the Vezina Trophy in 2011 but also the Conn Smythe Trophy. He was sensational while leading the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup victory since 1972.
Relive Boston’s entire 2011 Stanley Cup run on NESN as Bruins Encore continues at 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday night with Game 2 of the Final against the Canucks.
Happy birthday, Tim!