Comparing Tuukka Rask’s play to Tim Thomas’s 2011 Stanley Cup run

In 2011, Tuukka Rask was Tim Thomas's backup. Eight years later, Rask backstops the Bruins as they advance to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final.

Tuukka Rask Tim Thomas Boston Bruins
Tuukka Rask took over the Bruins' starting goalie job from Tim Thomas in 2012-13. The 2019 Stanley Cup Final will be his second as a starting goalie. –Jim Davis / The Boston Globe

When the Bruins last won the Stanley Cup in 2011, they were guided through their playoff run by goalie Tim Thomas, who put up one of the greatest postseason performances in NHL history.

No matter which stat you pick, Thomas’s numbers from the 2011 NHL playoffs rank among the top by goalies since 1968. Thomas also played 25 games along the way to winning the Stanley Cup and won the Conn Smythe Trophy, the award given for the most valuable player in the playoffs. According to Hockey Reference, only three goalies ever have played more games in a playoff run than Thomas did in 2011.

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In 2011, Tuukka Rask was Thomas’s backup. Eight years later, Rask backstops the Bruins as they advance to the Stanley Cup Final for the third time this decade (Rask was also the Bruins’ starting goaltender in the 2013 NHL playoffs when they lost to the Blackhawks in the Cup Final).

Here is a comparison of Rask’s performance this spring to Thomas’s play in the 2011 NHL playoffs:

Games played

2019 Rask: Rask has played 17 games through three rounds.

2011 Thomas: Thomas played 18 games through the first three rounds of the playoffs and finished the postseason with 25 games played.

Goals allowed

2019 Rask: Rask has allowed 32 goals through three rounds.

2011 Thomas: Through the first three rounds, Thomas allowed 43 goals. He finished the postseason with 51 goals allowed.

Shots against and save percentage

2019 Rask: Rask has faced 549 shots against in the postseason and earned a .942 save percentage.

2011 Thomas: Through the first three rounds, Thomas faced 603 shots against and posted a .929 save percentage. He finished the postseason with a .940 save percentage on 849 total shots against.

Shutouts

2019 Rask: Rask has earned two shutouts in the playoffs thus far, both in series-clinching wins against the Blue Jackets and the Hurricanes.

2011 Thomas: Through the first three rounds, Thomas earned two shutouts. He earned two more in the Stanley Cup Final against the Canucks, including in Game 7, for a total of four in the 2011 playoffs.

Quality starts

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Hockey Reference identifies “quality starts” as when a goalie earns a higher save percentage higher than the league’s average for that season, or at least an .885 save percentage, on nights with 20 or fewer shots against.

2019 Rask: Rask has earned 14 quality starts in 17 games played thus far.

2011 Thomas: Thomas earned 17 quality starts in 25 total games played during the 2011 playoffs.

Goals saved above average

Hockey Reference identifies “goals saved above average” as the goals a goalie prevented given their save percentage, and shots faced vs. the league average save percentage on the same number of shots.

2019 Rask: Rask saved 13.65 goals above average in the playoffs thus far.

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2011 Thomas: Thomas saved 20.72 goals above average through 25 games in the 2011 playoffs.