The Vancouver Canucks have dominated this season and the team marched through the playoffs in convincing fashion, once they edged the Chicago Blackhawks in seven games. The Sedin brothers, Henrik and Daniel, account for 37 points for the Canucks in the postseason, and they are joined by Ryan Kesler (18 points), forming a powerful offense. The Boston Bruins counter with the strong team effort, with six scoring threats in Nathan Horton, David Krejci, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Michael Ryder and Chris Kelly. The two teams' defenses match up well, too.
So the Stanley Cup may come down to the goaltenders. If it does, the Boston Bruins will win on the back of goalie Tim Thomas.
Thomas' career postseason statistics (.929 save percentage in 2011 postseason, .928 career postseason) are slightly better than those of Vancouver goalie Roberto Luongo (.922 SV% in 2011 postseason, .920 career postseason). His path to the Stanley Cup differs from Luongo's--Thomas was drafted in 1994 but toiled in the minor leagues and in Europe for several years before coming to the Bruins in 2002 at age 28. Luongo was a first-round draft pick, chosen in the fourth slot by the New York Islanders in 1997. Luongo saw steady play relatively quickly, guarding the net for the Florida Panthers in 47 games during the 2000-2001 season, and becoming their primary goal from then on.
But Thomas has demonstrated a steady hand, and when the Bruins absolutely had to have a shutout, he gave it to them, stopping all 24 shots to goal on May 27 to allow Boston to win the seventh game of the third-round series against Tampa Bay, 1-0. It was a remarkable performance.
Luongo, who has been accused by fans of being inconsistent under pressure, allowed 17 goals on 175 attempts for a .903 save percentage in the opening round of the playoffs against the Blackhawks.
Bruins fans have to feel good about Thomas after his big effort in the seventh-game win over the Lightning. The 37-year-old goalie could be the difference in the Stanley Cup, bringing the 1892 trophy to Boston this June.