Anyone possessing even an ounce of familiarity with the coaching ways of Claude Julien knows full well that the Bruins' bench boss always sticks with his veteran players. From Glen Murray to P.J. Axelsson to Mark Recchi, Julien has always had a penchant for favoring experience over potential, even when statistics and performance indicate he should be inclined to explore other options.
There's a goaltending controversy brewing in the Hub of Hockey. From a fan's perspective, one who simply cares about winning hockey games, that's certainly never a bad thing. Two great options between the pipes is a problem many an NHL team would kill to have.
In one corner you have Tim Thomas. The late-blooming, uber-competitive veteran who captured the Vezina Trophy last season. In the other corner stands Tuukka Rask. The Finnish goaltender has burst onto the scene after honing his skills in the American Hockey League, and has rocketed to the top of nearly every statistical category in 2009-10, his official rookie season.
Since the rumored fist-meets-wall incident that went down in the second week of November, with Thomas taking out his frustrations after an OT loss in Pittsburgh, Rask has simply been lights out. In eight appearances, Rask has compiled a 5-1-1 record. He has gone five consecutive starts allowing two goals or less, with a good portion of those contests going into overtime and beyond.
On the year, Rask is 8-2-2 with a 1.97 GAA and .932 Sv%. Only Buffalo's Ryan Miller has a lower GAA and higher Sv%. The 22-year-old signed a 2-yr extension earlier in the year, and will earn a total of $2.5 million over the next two seasons.
Meanwhile Thomas, in year one of a 4-yr $20 million dollar deal, has struggled since returning from injury. If you include his start back on the 14th against the Pens, the B's netminder has allowed 15 goals in his last four starts (including 5 in just 40 minutes vs. Montreal on 12/4).
On the year, the 35-year-old has a 7-7-3 record with a 2.48 GAA and .913 Sv%. While such numbers are nowhere near disaster territory, they are still noticeably inferior to Rask's.
So what will the Bruins do? If Julien sticks to his M.O., Thomas should still see a bulk of the starts. Knowing everything he's done for the organization since the lockout, notably the hardware he collected in July, one can't be too upset should that be the case. Then again, having a goaltender who currently ranks second in both GAA and Sv% ride the pine seems counterproductive, doesn't it?
Where do you stand on this debate?
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