By Alexander Monaghan
Coming into the 2011-2012 fantasy hockey season, Tim Thomas was a question mark. Following perhaps the best season a starting goalie ever made, the pace seemed impossible to keep up. Seven starting goalies were drafted ahead of him with Thomas making his way, on average, to the middle of the second round. Somehow the 37-year-old continues to find a way to make the impossible, possible.
Through his first four games, Thomas has disproved critics with a tidy 1.98 GAA and .932 save percentage. Most of the talk surrounding the B’s dealt with their Stanley Cup hangover but the Flint, Michigan native has simply been immune to such discussion.
His backup, Tuukka Rask, remains an excellent handcuff but his true value lies in keeping Thomas fresh. Last season, the reigning Vezina Trophy winner only made 57 appearances and 55 starts. Keeping an older netminder fresh is incredibly difficult when taking the toll on their body into consideration but coach Claude Julien seemed to find a perfect medium.
Yesterday, he proved even the statisticians wrong. Jared Diamond of The Wall St. Journal recently delved into a new goaltending-based hockey statistic which essentially adjusts save percentage by the difficulty of shots faced. This statistic known as defense independent goalie rating (DIGR) rated Thomas the best starting goalie in the League last season.
When considering that DIGR takes into account the quality of the team’s defenders — the Bruins were excellent on the blue line, led by captain Zdeno Chara — then Thomas’s performance is simply better than the rest of the League. If you passed him over this past draft, you may very well regret the move as his upside is simply elite like when I played cozino.
Do you wish you had Thomas on your fantasy hockey squad? Feel free to gripe, or not gripe, in the comments section.