The debate has been going on for pretty much the entire season… Who should be the #1 goalie for the Boston Bruins? Much like the recent Tonight Show war between Team Conan & Team Jay, the fans here in Boston have been divided. But the camps aren’t broken up as you might think, one side pulling for Tim Thomas and the other campaigning for Tuukka Rask. Instead they’ve been split into Tim Thomas Lovers & Tim Thomas Haters, with everybody seeming to agree that Tuukka is a great net minder that will be a huge part to the future success of the Bruins.
I made a post on Twitter (@mikewendt) during the 3-2 loss to the Buffalo Sabres…
“Tim Thomas… Not as horrible as the TT-haters make him out to be, but not as great this year as the TT-lovers are preaching either.”
If you’re reading this and you’re in the Thomas-Lovers camp, you need to relax a bit. Timmy isn’t a godlike goalie that can do no wrong, so stop trying to sell him as such. If you’re on the Thomas-Haters side of the fence, lighten up. He’s not that horrible in net, and you don’t have to think too far back in Bruins history to be able to say “it could be a whole lot worse.”
Tim is a good goalie, especially when the team in front of him can score. Last season he had a career year, but I believe a much better representation of his actual play would be the 2007-08 season. He is a streaky goalie that plays with a ton of emotion and sometimes that emotion can get the best of him (example: the Flyers lone goal at the Winter Classic). On the flip side you have Tuukka who seems to have much better control over his emotions (milk crate incident aside) and plays a much calmer style of hockey. Unlike Tim’s flopping, rolling, diving style that usually has me white knuckling my beer and screaming at the TV Tuukka doesn’t seem to inspire such a stress filled viewing experience. He stays up, holds his positions, uses his large frame to fill up the maximum amount of space in the net, and will usually try to direct the rebounds off to the side or into the corners. I can’t count how many times my heart has skipped a beat when a juicy rebound, as Jack Edwards would say, pops off Thomas’s pads and lands right in the slot for someone to smack home.
But like I said, Timmy is a good goalie. How many of you cringed last year when you heard the Manny Fernandez was getting a start? Thomas was the only guy anyone wanted to see between the pipes. But because this season didn’t go as everyone thought it would it seems like a portion of the fan base has labeled Thomas the fall guy. Of course one of the big points that are brought up is the size of his contract, especially when he’s going through a rough patch and people see him on the bench as basically a $5M backup goalie.
I think for the near future that is the reality that the fans are going to have to live with though. Tim’s cage has been rattled a bit too much and the Bruins need to go with Rask from here on out. With the team in a fight for one of the bottom three playoff spots in the East with the Canadiens, Flyers, Thrashers, and Rangers every win is crucial to how this season ends up. They have a good chance of finishing in 6th place if they can all keep their heads in the game and play the way they have in the past week against the Flames, Thrashers, and Rangers. However if they let themselves slip as they did in the Buffalo game then they could find themselves in 10th and hitting the links in less than two weeks.