In December 2008, Sports of Boston launched the first SoB Awards Show, issuing awards to those involved with Boston sports for their exceptional performance in the year 2008. The Sports of Boston staff continued this tradition in every year since, now voting in three categories for the year 2011: Story of the Year, Game of the Year and Player of the Year.
Starting in September, the Red Sox led Tampa Bay by nine games for the Wildcard. With Boston’s superstar-studded roster, nothing could go wrong, right? Wrong. Tampa just kept on winning, while Boston kept on losing. A steady diet of beer and fried chicken will do that. Boston found themselves tied with Tampa on the season’s final day. All they had to do to stay in the hunt was beat the Orioles, one of the easiest feats in baseball.
They took a 3-2 lead into the 9th inning, when Jonathan Papelbon threw his last pitches for the team. He got the first two batters swinging, but then gave up three straight hits to blow the save (again) and the season. Tampa won the same night over the Yankees, 8-7, in 12 innings.
Now, Papelbon and John Lackey are gone through free agency and injury respectively. The bullpen is undergoing major retooling, as is the starting rotation and managerial and front office positions. With their power-packed offense (less Carl Crawford, of course), the Red Sox should fulfill their potential in 2012 as long as the new pitching works out.
On June 15, the Boston Bruins faced their third Game 7 of the playoffs. It was the first one on the road, and the home team won all six previous games in the final round. However, Vancouver struggled at home all series long and never bothered to show up in Boston. Boston took advantage and finally broke through for the 4-0 shutout in the deciding game. Could it have been Nathan Horton pouring water from melted TD Garden ice on Vancouver’s rink before the game? That’s probably Vancouver’s excuse.
Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand each score twice in a game that featured more goals than penalties. Tim Thomas was excellent in net, stopping all 37 shots on goal to help seal the cup. It was Boston’s first Cup in 39 years, making Boston a hockey town again.
It’s hard to argue with Tim Thomas being the Boston 2011 MVP. He won another Vezina, a Conn Smythe and set a save percentage record. Without a superior defense which Thomas provides, even Boston’s offense wouldn’t result in the Bruins being such a sure thing to win and win big.
Thomas came up big in big situations, winning three Game 7s and finishing the last season 35-11-9 with nine shutouts and 13 penalty minutes to boot. In the newest season, Thomas already is 16-5-0 with four shutouts. He is currently even better than last year, with a .943 SV% and 1.84 GAA.
A championship only added to the lore that is Tim Thomas. At this rate, he has a very good shot to be the first two-time SoB POTY.