How Important is Thomas for the Bruins’ Success? A Brief Numbers Analysis
Analysis by BruinsUnite
The Bruins are 3rd in the Eastern Conference and locked up their division title 2 days ago. Only one other team has fewer goals against thus far (Vancouver) and the Bruins are 20th in the league on the power play. On the penalty kill they’re in 16th position but they’re 5th in goals-for.
In case you’re wondering how important goaltending is in explaining the Bruins’ current position, note that only one team has more shots against (Carolina). A team with such a high number of shots against is unlikely to have a leading goaltender in both goals against average and save percentage, but that’s exactly what the Bruins have in Tim Thomas. There’s no doubt that he has stolen many a game throughout the season.
Being 5th in the league in goals-for seems to play into the explanation for the Bruins’ success, but this myth is quickly dispelled when we note that the Bruins lead the league in 3-goal game wins and are 25th place for 1-goal game wins. So high scoring doesn’t play as prominent a role as we might have thought in this team’s success. We have to take into account that Tim Thomas has been stopping pucks at key moments in low-scoring games. He is also second in the league in shutout wins.
Of course, it doesn’t hurt to play with Zdeno Chara, who leads the league in plus/minus, along with Adam McQuaid (6th in the league) and Andrew Ferrence (9th). Dennis Seidenberg also ranks 11th in the league in blocked shots and neither he nor Johnny Boychuck seem to know the meaning of a giveaway.
But in the end, if we’re going to get a clear picture of just how effective Tim Thomas has really been, we have to look at the raw number of shots on goal and take into account that much of the Bruins’ high scoring is happening in 3+ goal game wins. Goals-for is therefore not sufficient to explain the Bruins’ effectiveness this season and neither is the D. What remains is the goaltending.