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|Tim Thomas in some ways comes full circle, playing against the Lightning in the playoffs during a season in which he could again be named the NHL's top goaltender.|
“Thomas is a Vezina finalist and should win his second trophy as the league's best goaltender. And he's only eight wins from hoisting the Stanley Cup in celebration. A year ago, there weren't too many people who believed Thomas could rebound with the kind of season he has enjoyed in 2010-11. "Who would have thought it? I was probably the only one who was thinking it," Thomas said. "It was something that was at least a possibility. I understand why other people are surprised, but I'm not surprised myself." While the Bruins were in the playoffs last spring, Thomas had a different perspective for the first time in his career, watching from the bench. Every team he has ever been on, he was the starting goaltender if it reached the playoffs. He was on the bench last spring and served as Rask's backup. Thomas wasn't bitter about the situation; instead it fueled his desire. "It really increased my hunger to be able to play in the playoffs [again]," Thomas said. "What a gift and an opportunity it is, to be in the NHL playoffs and competing at the highest level for the Stanley Cup." This season, it was Rask who was the backup, but based on the way Thomas was playing the entire year, Rask chalked it up as just another learning experience. He had a good seat to watch Thomas become a Vezina finalist. "It's pretty unbelievable," Rask said. "He broke those records and was that guy every night, showing his best. That's not easy to do when you play  games and not having that bad game. That's the ultimate goal for every goalie, and during the regular season, he pretty much reached it. It was great to see." At this time last year, Thomas was preparing for the uncertainty of hip surgery. He did not know how it would affect his career. His performance this season might have surprised many, but Thomas knew he had it in him. "It is amazing," Thomas said. "I haven't taken too much time to really focus on how different it is this year compared to last year because I'm still too busy putting all my focus toward trying to accomplish more." Joe McDonald covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com.
The one goal I did have was to be a Vezina finalist. That's one of the things I thought about last summer. And one dream I thought a lot about was raising the Stanley Cup over my head. In that way, I'm not surprised [by my success] because they are goals that I made.” -- Bruins goalie Tim Thomas