Top Ten Tim Thomas Saves of the 2010-2011 Season

LAS VEGAS, NV - JUNE 22: Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins poses after winning both the Vezina Trophy and the Conn Smythe during the 2011 NHL Awards at The Pearl concert theater at the Palms Casino Resort June 22, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

Tim Thomas made 2,497 saves in the 2010-2011 season, including playoffs. He posted a record .938 save percentage in the regular season and an even better .940 mark on his way to the Conn Smythe. Out of those 2,497 saves were some jaw-dropping stops that only Thomas could make. As a fellow goalie, I thought it would be fun to try and put together a Top 10 list of his best saves this year. Oh was I right. Needless to say, if you feel like one of the 2,487 saves I didn't include should be on the list, let everyone know in the comments and try to include video if possible.

10. October 21st 2010 vs. Washington Capitals

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OPUgpZq4to&feature=related

Tim Thomas post-to-post save 10/21/10 (via NHLVideo)

If there was any question about Thomas' health early in the season, this post-to-post save on old friend Mike Knuble should've put them to rest. Massachusetts native Tom Poti fires wide off the boards and it bounces right to Knuble. Thomas gets across to rob Knuble with the pad. The Caps announcers in the video discuss Thomas' age after the save, showing just how much the Caps know about goaltending.

 

9. November 15th 2010 vs. New Jersey Devils 

Tim Thomas scrambles, keeps puck out 11/15/10 (via NHLVideo)

 

This is a quintessential Thomas sequence. He comes out to challenge Patrik Elias on the rush and Elias tries to outwait him but Thomas stays with him and makes the first save. Mattias Tedenby gets the rebound with Thomas scrambling back to the net and Thomas stops him WITH HIS BACK TURNED. There's a little more scrambling and a blocked shot and finally the Bruins clear. This is Tim Thomas in a nutshell, aggressive and a bit wacky.

 

8. December 1st, 2010 at Philadelphia Flyers

Tim Thomas amazing sprawling saves on Briere - NHL NESN Feed (via NYYfan46)

Zdeno Chara gives the puck up to Scott Hartnell behind the net, who feeds Danny Briere for what should've been a goal. But Thomas makes an insane reaction save with his blocker, and then stops Briere again with his pad as he goes into the two-pad stack. Thomas bailed out his defensemen more times than anyone feels comfortable admitting, but this was one of his best.

7. November 20th, 2010 vs. Los Angeles Kings

NHL Top 10 Saves of 2010 ; Eastern Conference (via weasel1926)

I couldn't find the video of the save anywhere else on YouTube sadly. It's about 30 seconds into the video. Captain Canada Ryan Smyth gets stopped by Thomas on a wraparound but the puck comes right out to Jarret Stoll. Thomas wiggles over to face Stoll and robs him with the glove. He did great just to get anywhere near the shot, but actually stopping it was something else entirely. Stoll couldn't believe he didn't score, and I bet 

6. June 6 2011, Game 3 Stanley Cup Finals vs. Vancouver Canucks

Tim Thomas denies Raymond's slick dekes 6/6/11 (via NHLVideo)

Mason Raymond makes Dennis Seidenberg of all people look silly but Thomas closes the pads quick enough to stop him. Raymond puts a backhander on net but Thomas stretches out and gets that too. While not the flashiest of his saves, it was one of the most important. Look at the score. It's 0-0 late in the first period of Game 3, with the Bruins down 2-0 in the series and stunned by the loss of Nathan Horton. If Raymond scores there Vancouver grabs the momentum and who knows what happens from there.

5. May 19, 2011 Eastern Conference Finals Game 3 at Tampa Bay Lightning

Tim Thomas 360 save (via smishra24)

Perhaps this can be qualified as lucky, but I think Thomas made a pretty amazing save here. He stops Teddy Purcell from the right circle as he comes way out of his crease. The rebound comes out and Thomas goes sliding back into the crease facing the end boards. He spins back to the play as Vincent Lecavalier does a 360 of his own and whacks the puck at the net. To me, it looks like Thomas catches a glimpse of the puck and kicks his right leg out to stop it. This is another key save. The Bruins won that game 2-0 behind Thomas, but if that shot goes in, just like with the stop on Raymond, things might've turned out very differently.

4.  April 26, 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 6 at Montreal Canadiens

Tim Thomas sliding blocker save 4/26/11 (via NHLVideo)

Four Bruins collapse around Thomas here on the penalty kill in Game 6 against the Canadiens. Brian Gionta finds himself alone on the left dot but Thomas dives out at the puck and it hits the knob of his stick. It was a smart play by Thomas. He found himself off-balance and not square to the puck, so he threw himself at it trying to cut down the angle, and it worked. Not many goalies would try that, and not many would be able to get a piece of that shot.

3. April 23, 2011 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals Game 5 vs. Montreal

Tim Thomas 2-on-1 save in 2OT 4/23/11 (via NHLVideo)

Gionta makes another appearance on the list. Travis Moen and Gionta have a 2-on-1 in double overtime of Game 5, and a golden opportunity to give the Canadiens a 3-2 series lead heading back to Montreal. Moen gets the pass over and Gionta puts it on net but Thomas slides over on his stomach and gets it with his left pad. It's an incredible post-to-post save from Thomas that, once again, may have saved the season. If Gionta scores, Montreal is up 3-2 going home, and the season would have been in serious danger.

2. December 4, 2010 at Toronto Maple Leafs

Tim Thomas incredible diving glove save 12/4/10 (via NHLVideo)

Clarke MacArthur finds Francois Beauchemin with a wide-open net, and the Leafs fans rise in anticipation of a big overtime win. But Thomas dives over with his glove out and Beauchemin finds leather. Beauchemin can't believe it, and neither can the Leafs fans. This was the save of the year for most of the season, until Thomas somehow fund a way to top it.

1. May 23, 2011 Eastern Conference Finals Game 5 vs. Tampa Bay

Tim Thomas miraculous stick save 5/23/11 (via NHLVideo)

I originally thought I was going to put Thomas' pad save on Gionta at the top, and this would slide in at 2 or 3. This just seemed like too lucky a save for it to be "better" than the save on Gionta. But when I watched this again, I couldn't help it. No other goalie in the league makes this save. Most probably wouldn't even reach back. An Eric Brewer shot from the point goes wide and deflects quickly off the boards to the front of the net, catching Thomas out of position. The puck finds Steve Downie, who puts a quick shot on the empty net. Thomas lunges back and gets the blade of his stick on it. Downie continues to skate around the net looking stunned. Thomas' aggressiveness and competitiveness make this save possible. This isn't just the best Tim Thomas save of the year, it's the NHL Save of the Year.

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