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By getting to the Stanley Cup Finals, Tim Thomas is living the dream.
For Boston goaltender Tim Thomas, the 2010-2011 season, followed by the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, has been the stuff that dreams are made of.
One year ago, in the 2010 playoffs, Thomas was sitting on the bench serving as Tuukka Rask's back up, watching the proceedings unfold before him. Thomas, at that time, was the defending Vezina Trophy winner but his 2009-2010 season did not go as planned and Thomas was relegated to the bench. It was thought that the University of Vermont alum had seen his better days as an NHL goaltender. After the playoffs concluded for Boston, fans began calling for Thomas to be on the next plane, train, bus, or any other mode of transportation, out of Beantown. He had fallen into disfavor but only he, his teammates and the organization knew the reason behind Thomas' fall from grace, as it were.
In the summer of 2010, Thomas had surgery for a badly injured labrum in his hip. An affliction that is becoming common in butterfly style goaltenders. The constant dropping down with their knees almost touching one another produces increased wear and tear on the hip joint and the muscles surrounding the joint. Many goaltenders end up needing surgery at some point in their careers for the injury. Most are able to resume their playing careers while some cannot. Thomas was one of the lucky ones, so to speak and when training camp opened in September, 2010, he looked like a new man in goal. He was quicker, more aggressive in challenging the shooters and appeared more confident. The surgery and the resulting new found confidence paid off as he was named the starting goaltender for the 2010-2011 season. He has not looked back.
After setting a new NHL record for lowest goals against average for one season, Thomas was named a finalist for the 2011 Vezina Trophy. He has continued his Cinderella season with the playoff run of his life.
After three rounds and 18 total playoff games played, Thomas is the only netminder not to be pulled from a playoff game this season. He leads the NHL in playoff games played (18), wins (12), shots against (603), saves (560), shut outs (2), and minutes played (1,125). The Flint, Michigan native is second in the NHL in losses (6), goals against (43) and save percentage (.929).
It has been a long road, one which has included stops in Birmingham Alabama, Helsinki Finland, Hamilton Ontario, Houston Texas, Detroit Michigan, Solna Sweden, Karpat Finland, Jokerit Finland, and Providence, Rhode Island but that road has finally led Tim Thomas to the Stanley Cup Finals as Boston's top playoff performer and the odds on favorite to be named the Conn Smythe Trophy winner as the Most Valuable Player of the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, proving that dreams do really come true.