09 May 2011
After Sunday's practice, Coach Boucher called Tim Thomas 'an enigma' while talking to the media according to CSNNE.com suggesting that Tim Thomas might be the biggest potential difference-maker in the series.
Now Boucher has used strategy when talking to the media before each series had started, building up one aspect of the other team, it seemed he was doing it to let the press run with a particular story he planted the seed for. In the Lightning-Pens series, it was all about Boucher telling the media that he expected Crosby to play which had the reporters writing that story to death when Crosby was nowhere near playing. Then in the Lightning-Caps series it was all about the David-Goliath series, which as we can see from the outcome, was not a very true comparison.
So you might think that when Boucher talks now about Thomas, maybe he's creating the same media smoke screen as he had done previously to deflect attention from his team. We'll get to the enigma part in another post, but as for the other part, I'd have to agree with what he says about Thomas being the potential difference-maker, although I'd limit that to being for Boston not the series in general. I think this series' potential difference-maker is the goaltending for either team.
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If we look at the regular season, the two teams have met four times this season, with the Bruins winning three games (8-1 on December 2nd, 4-3 on December 28th, 2-1 on March 3rd) and the Lightning winning once on November 22nd 3-1. Although the Bruins completely owned the Lightning this past season, the Bruins never faced the Lightning with Roloson in net. The Lightning traded for Roloson on January 1st and Roloson did not play the game on March 3rd because of a back-to-back game that had Mike Smith starting in net.
The goalies ended the regular season with stats like this:
With the key stat to compare being the Sv%. Thomas with the .938 and Roloson with .912. Both respectable.
Now in the playoffs:
Both goalies have played the same amount of games, have an almost identical GA and GAA and really similar SA, Sv and Sv%. Roloson has the edge in Sv % at .941 and Thomas stays consistent with .937
So in other words, the goaltending for both teams has been stellar in the playoffs.
Roloson can keep pace with Thomas, thus I don't think one has the edge over the other. Thomas will only be the difference-maker if Roloson has a collapse in net and vice versa. Roloson needs to be just as good as Thomas is every single game of the series. And if both continue to play well, then the difference maker of the teams may not lie in the goaltending aspect at all.
Of course the story of the goaltending will be led by their age, so let's get that over with part with saying: they are both old in NHL standards. Thomas is the younger at 37 and Roloson the elder at 41, but I doubt the difference in age gives either an edge over the other.