After the Boston game, I had several people reach out to me in an attempt to explain the visual circus that is Tim Thomas’ goaltending style. This gave me an idea: I decided that over the next few weeks, I’ll be breaking down all the potential goalie matchups the Rangers could find themselves involved in during the playoffs.
The format is going to be a little different since, let’s face it, around here we are more interested in how to beat these goalies than how they modify their leg pads. The categories for this series are going to be General Style, Strengths, Weaknesses and How The Rangers Should Approach The Matchup.
Without further adieu, first up is Tim Thomas…
In the interest of full disclosure, I am going to admit up front that I am not a Tim Thomas fan. For reasons I will explain below, I think he is incredibly overrated and gets the benefit of being a “gamer” to a fault. His style makes him an incredibly polarizing player, mostly because his style itself is something of a Jekyll and Hyde situation. His strengths are incredibly strong, and his weaknesses are considerably weak.
Thomas does not play a traditional style in any sincere form. He may utilize some traditional techniques, but his style is all his own. A lot of Dominic Hasek comparisons are drawn, but I feel those are nothing more than a convenient comparison because they both break the mainstream goaltending paradigm. The Dominator, in his prime, felt that a traditional style was too limiting for him. He wanted to pick the puck up with his blocker and drop his stick when he felt encumbered by it. Hasek was a freak of an athlete who would not limit his ability to move or track the puck for the sake of doing it “correctly”. Thomas simply does the best he can within his physical limitations. He is extremely aggressive and he will use any part of his body to stop the puck, and relies heavily on his defense to bail him out when his aggressiveness gets the better of him.
It is difficult to describe Thomas’ general style without getting into specific strengths and weaknesses. Thomas has several strengths define his game. The two biggest strengths he possesses are his ability to track the puck and his compete level.
Thomas is an extremely focused goaltender who never takes his eye off the puck. If he can see the puck, he will find some way to put a body part on it.
What this puck tracking ability allows him to do is isolate situations where shooters only have one option, and attack. When he is at his best, he finds a shooter with no available passing lanes and ends up 6-8 feet outside the crease cutting down the angle and space the shooter has to operate.
Thomas’s compete level has willed him to two Vezina trophies in the past 3 years. The dude just never gives up on a puck. This is where the strongest link between Thomas and Hasek exists. He is a blue collar guy who takes his job very seriously and never wants to get scored on. He instills confidence in his teammates and fans with his “never say die” attitude between the pipes. He seems to be a good locker room guy (White House antics notwithstanding) and his seemingly strong work ethic make him a player who is easy to root for. Read more »