Win or lose, Thomas should get Conn Smythe
MIKE ZEISBERGER, QMI Agency
|Bruins goaltender Tim Thomas makes a save against the Canucks during Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final in Boston, Mass., June 13, 2011. (ERIC BOLTE/QMI Agency)
BOSTON - If they haven't chiselled Tim Thomas's name into the Hart Trophy yet, they should start sharpening the engraving tool.
Thomas clearly has been the top performer of these 2011 Stanley Cup playoffs, no matter what the result of Wednesday night's Game 7 showdown between the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks,
Thomas has allowed just eight goals through six games of the final against the Canucks, the league's top scoring team during the regular season. In addition, he needs to turn aside just six more pucks to set the record for most saves by a goalie in a single post-season.
Even if the Bruins drop the winner-take-all showdown with their Canadian hosts, there is a precedent for a player on the losing team to win the award as playoff MVP. It has happened five times before, with the recipients being Detroit goalie Roger Crozier (1966), St. Louis goalie Glenn Hall (1969), Philadelphia forward Reggie Leach (1976), Philadelphia goalie Ron Hextall (1986) and Anaheim goalie J-S Giguere (2003).
Unless Thomas gets lit up for eight or pulls a Tommy Salo by allowing the winning goal from centre ice, there shouldn't even be a debate. And even if either of those two things were to occur, he'd still be among the favourites.
"I'm very happy to be here and very happy to have this opportunity," Thomas said of Game 7. "I'm going to try to embrace that opportunity and take the same attitude I've taken throughout the whole playoffs.
"Hopefully that will get me through that one last game to get the goal we've been shooting for all year long."
In victory or defeat, these playoffs have belonged to Tim Thomas. It's a good bet that so, too, will the Conn Smythe trophy.