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Tim Thomas is the definition of a "late bloomer." He played his first NHL game at age 29, but was quickly sent back to the minors and returned to Finland. He continued to hold out hope, and eventually returned to the NHL for the 2006 season. He established himself as the Bruins' No. 1 netminder during the 2008-2009 season when he was awarded his first Vezina Trophy.
Thomas missed much of the following season due to injury, but returned in a big way during the 2010-2011 season, setting a few new NHL records en route to his second Vezina and first career Conn Smythe Trophy.
Talent-wise, Thomas is extremely unorthodox. He is very adept at sprawling or lunging to make the save, he never quits on a play and he always seems to anticipate where the next shot will be coming from. He just has a knack for making the save with whatever body part is available.
The downside to Thomas' style of play is his lack of good technique and fundamentals, which are often the backbone of an elite netminder. When things aren't going well for Thomas, he simply does not have the ability to fall back on his technical, positional game to steady himself and stop the bleeding.
Of course, if Thomas is on his game, this matters much less. But it is still a weakness. The only other shortcoming I see in Thomas' game is his inability to handle the puck, but with the Bruins' defense corps, the importance of Thomas' puck-handing is greatly minimized.
The legend of Tim Thomas is certainly a feel-good story. And Thomas himself should feel very good, since it is a big reason why he's the best goaltender in the world.
At least for now.