Tim Thomas' groin injury is healed, meaning that he'll be in goal when his new team, the Florida Panthers, host his old club, the Boston Bruins, on Thursday night. His former goaltending partner, Tuukka Rask, is looking forward to the matchup.
"I never thought that we would play against each other," Rask told the Bruins website following practice Wednesday in Sunrise, Fla. "But I'm glad that he made his comeback and proved people wrong again, and I hope he does well."
Rask was the backup to Thomas for three seasons, as well as during the 2011 Stanley Cup Playoffs, when Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy while leading Boston to its first championship since 1972. He backed up Thomas again in 2011-12 before getting his chance to start when Thomas opted to sit out last season.
Thomas became a free agent during the summer and signed a tryout agreement with the Panthers last month before inking a contract. He started in each of Florida's first three games but left with a groin injury in the first period of the Panthers' road game against the Philadelphia Flyers on Oct. 8.
"We practiced together for many years so I don't think it's any different because we both practice like we play," said Rask, who's expected to be in goal for Boston, though coach Claude Julien hasn't announced a starter. "So it probably just would be lots more people out there watching us."
Asked if he'd have the chance to talk to Thomas, Rask joked that, "Yeah, maybe we'll fight or something," before adding on a more serious note that, "You always share a couple words during warm-ups or something and that's about it."
After firing away on Thomas only during practice, at least one Bruins player is looking forward to the opportunity to shoot on him for real.
"All those years shooting on him in practice, I think it'll be fun to finally shoot on him in a game and I'm sure he's looking forward to it as well," forward Milan Lucic told the Bruins website. "I'm sure he's happy to be back in the NHL playing and he's found a new home here in Florida.
"I think, especially for this one, regardless of how it ended or not. I think there's still something special with this organization and him just because of the Stanley Cup and two Vezinas and a Conn Smythe. He was a competitor and that's why you expect that level of play from him."