Is Tuukka Rask better than Tim Thomas
|Photo via ESPN.com|
We all knew the comparison was coming. It was inevitable. When Tuukka Rask shut down the Pittsburg Penguins high-flying (pun intended) offense during game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals everyone knew the two would square off and the question would be posed: Is Tuukka Rask replicating Tim Thomas' 2011 playoff performance?
Keep in mind it wasn't just the game one shutout, or the save totals, or the fact that Rask lead the Bruins to a solid and commanding game one win. It was the way he did it. The saves Rask made were inhuman, clutch and everything the B's needed to gain confidence moving forward in this series. A confidence that could propel the B's to a game two win where physical play - coming into Monday's game - will be at the forefront.
But let's get back to the Rask/Thomas comparison. It's one, in my opinion, that needs a lot more time to develop. Let's not forget that Thomas had one of the greatest playoff runs in NHL history and to place that weight on Rask's shoulders isn't fair - at least not yet.
Perhaps you forgot Thomas' stat line. Let's revisit it shall we: 25 games, 16 wins, .940 save percentage and a sizzling 1.98 goals against average during the 2011 playoffs. Did I mention he had 4 shutouts during that time as well? His playoff run made him the easy favorite to capture the Conn Smythe Trophy - which he eventually won and deservedly so. But can we put that kind of expectation on Rask? Does he have to be the second coming of Tim Thomas - during these playoffs - for the Bruins to win the Cup?
The answer should be a resounding, no.
Let's be honest Tuukka's put up some unreal playoff numbers - 9 wins, .933 save percentage and a stellar 2.06 goals against average with 1 shutout. And it's without question that his performance during game one against Pittsburg kept the Bruins afloat for much of the game, but let's slow down on the Tim Thomas comparisons until after the playoffs are finished.
Frankly, if the Bruins are unable to capture Lord Stanley's Cup this year then the great Rask/Thomas debate will be dust in the (NHL playoff) wind - just ask any B's fan and they'll tell you the same thing.
Follow Scott Levesque on Twitter at @scottlevesque.