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Thomas is a Finalist for Vezina

by John Bishop / Boston Bruins
BOSTON -- On Friday, the NHL announced its three finalists for the 2011 Vezina Trophy -- Vancouver's Roberto Luongo, Nashville's Pekka Rinne and Boston's Tim Thomas.

Thomas poses with the Vezina Trophy, for the top goaltender, at the National Hockey League awards in Las Vegas on Thursday, June 18 2009. Thomas beat out Steve Mason of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild in voting by the NHL's general managers. (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Ryan Remiorz)
"Very happy to hear that, obviously," said Thomas during the Bruins press availability on Friday at TD Garden.

"After last year, I wasn’t quite sure if I’d ever hear that again."

It's no shock that Thomas, the 2009 Vezina winner, is amongst the finalists, but at this point it might be a shock if the B's netminder isn't the ultimate choice for the award given to the NHL's best goaltender.

During the 2010-11 regular season, Thomas broke the NHL record for single-season save percentage with a mark of .938 (besting the previous record of .937 set by Dominik Hasek in the 1998-99 season), had a record of 35-11-9 in 57 games this season and had a GAA of 2.00.

The Bruins goalie also set a career high with nine shutouts this season and was the winning goalie for Team Lidstrom at the 2011 NHL All-Star Game (where he became the first goaltender to win three straight All-Star Games).

The only shock might come to those who looked at Thomas' 2009-10 campaign, which saw Thomas dress as his fellow B's netminder Tuukka Rask's back-up through much of the regular season and all of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, and thought they saw a goaltender on the decline.

"Yeah, I definitely have more appreciation just for the fact that I have the opportunity to play," said Thomas. "I waited a long time in my career just for the opportunity to play in any NHL games.

"I wanted to have the opportunity and wanted to be able to show what I could do.

"So, after last year, I think it’s made every game a little bit sweeter this year," he said.

Sweeter still was that the announcement came just hours after Thomas battled his way through a 34-save, 5-4 victory over the Canadiens last night in Montreal -- a win that tied the B's with their ancient rivals 2-2 in their Eastern Conference Quarter-final series.

Thomas was asked about the fans in the Bell Centre chanting his name throughout Thursday's Game 4.

"After all these years, I just vaguely hear it," said the B's goaltender. "The first year there, the first year that we played them in the playoffs, it took some getting used to because it is so loud and that is a very loud building.

"But now it’s just merely background noise."

That said, Thomas is sure to hear an even louder (and certainly more supportive) cheer from fans in TD Garden when the two teams clash in Game 5 on Saturday night. But given the whirlwind nature of last night's game and the announcement of this morning, combined with the need to focus on Saturday, Tim hasn't given much thought to the off-ice happenings of the last 48 hours.

"I haven’t had too much time to think to be honest with you," he said. "But that was probably a must-win game last night.

"I get down three to one in the series, it’s going to be a very difficult task. So I mean there was a couple times during that game when we got down by, well when we got down three to one, even when we got down four to three, you don’t know if you’re going to be able to pull it out.

"But people stepped up and they got the job done. And we had that opportunity in overtime and obviously that’s another opportunity you didn’t want to lose.

"And we were able to take advantage of the opportunity," added Thomas. "All credit to the guys on the team, they showed a lot of character."

Just like their goaltender.
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