(Photo Credit: AP Photo)

By: Mike Sullivan | Follow me on Twitter: @_MikeSullivan

Words cannot do justice to my excitement level for today. Tim Thomas is the stuff of legend. The 2011 Stanley Cup doesn’t happen without him. Tim Thomas is that dude. Tim Thomas days away!!!

Ok, listen. Tim Thomas gets enough credit for his role in 2011, but at the same time, he doesn’t. Do you know what I mean? What he did during that playoff run was the most mind-boggling thing these eyes have ever seen. I can immediately think of two or three saves off the bat. Not to mention hitting Sedin with the truck stick in front of the net, going full Vince Wilfork on him. The two-on-one save in double overtime immediately comes to mind. Gionta was fed a perfect biscuit to put Montreal up three to two in the series, only for Thomas to sprawl across the crease and catch the puck last second with his pad. I’d be a criminal if I didn’t mention his game five save against Steve Downie of the Tampa Bay Lightning as Thomas left the cage wide open only to sprawl back and save the puck with the blade of his stick.

To say Tim Thomas is the most beloved goalies in Boston Bruins history kind of feels like an over-statement, but people still, and well in their rights, compare him to Tuukka Rask. Beloved and statistically better are two different things, but this article’s purpose isn’t to compare Timmy and Tuukka. Since I just pumped Tuukka’s tires a little bit (see what I did there?) I will say Thomas won a Stanley Cup, Tuukka didn’t. Woah! Don’t get mad. We can love both guys!

Tim Thomas’ 2010-2011 regular season was absolutely incredible. I won’t even mention playoffs yet. During the regular season, Timmy started 55 games. He sported an outstanding Save Percentage of .938 and a Goals Against Average of 2.00 with nine shutouts. As the NHL’s best goalie, this season would be his second Vezina Trophy season. (2009, 2011).

His 2011 Playoff run will probably never be replicated again. If he could put up the same numbers he did in the regular season in the playoffs, he would’ve given us more than a fighting chance. What did Timmy do? He turned it up another level. During the 2011 Stanley Cup Final run, Tim Thomas started in all 25 games, posted a 1.98 Goals Against Average, a .940 Save Percentage, and four shutouts on his way to leading the Bruins to their first Cup since 1972. Without Tim Thomas, you do not win the Cup.

It wasn’t just making saves. It was the manner in which he did so. The typical goalie will stay in his net, go post to post, and have good, solid, fundamental techniques. Thomas was quite the opposite. Half the time, he’d be on his belly, on his back, or just flopping around like a dead fish, but he still made the save! In my short lifetime, he has easily been the most entertaining goalie to watch.

The debate of Tuukka or Timmy will go on forever. Tuukka had a longer career in Boston and slightly better numbers. Tim Thomas’ career numbers: 408 games started, 214-145-49 record, GAA of 2.52, and a Save Percentage of .920 with 31 shutouts. Tuukka Rask’s career numbers: 544 games started, 308-165-66 record, GAA of 2.28, and a Save Percentage of .921 with 52 shutouts. The big but here is no Stanley Cup for Tuukka, so this age-old debate will never end.

Regardless, Tim Thomas, the man of the day, has a plethora of accolades to go through. He is a four-time NHL All-Star, winning the William Jennings trophy in 2009 and two-time Vezina Trophy winner in 2009 and 2011. In addition, he won the Conn Smythe Trophy in 2011 as MVP of the playoffs, along with the Stanley Cup. Thomas was the first goaltender to win the Stanley Cup, Vezina, and Conn Smythe trophies in the same season since Bernie Parent in the 1974-1975 NHL season. Thomas also won two ESPY’s in 2011 as “Best NHL Player” and “Best Championship Performance.”

Thomas also holds two NHL records that he set in 2011. Most saves by a goaltender in a playoff run (798) and most saves by a goaltender in a Stanley Cup Final series (238).

Tim Thomas brought the Stanley Cup to Boston. Without him, the Cup ventures elsewhere. A man whose legend will forever carry weight around Boston. A man who was so beloved while he was here. Happy Tim Thomas days until the 2022-2023 regular season! Let’s Go!!!!