Fan’s view: Will Tim Thomas be the difference in the Stanley Cup Finals?

The Boston Bruins are preparing to play in the Stanley Cup Finals. Tim Thomas(notes), who many disregarded just one year ago, had an outstanding regular season. After winning the first three playoff rounds, he stands ready to lead his team into their final confrontation against the Vancouver Canucks.

European American

Thomas will have to play at the top of his game to shutdown a potent Canucks offense.
Wikimedia Commons

Thomas was originally drafted by the Quebec Nordiques, in the ninth round, in 1994. Between 1997 and 2002, the Flint, Michigan native played hockey in both Finland and Sweden.

Thomas was signed by the Bruins as a free agent in 2002. He returned to the United States and appeared in only four games for the team during the 2002-03 season.

At the time, he was 28 years old and was floating in career limbo. However, resilience and determination have been keys in Thomas' career.

He played in Finland again during the 2004-05 season, before returning to Boston. He started almost half of the Bruins games in 2005-06, before becoming their starting goaltender in 2006-07.

Deserved awards

Thomas had a breakout season, at the age of 34, in 2008-09. That year he won the Vezina and the Jennings trophies. He did so by going 36-11-7, with a 2.10 GAA and a .933 save percentage.

That year he made his first All-Star team. He was an All-Star again in 2009 and 2011. After taking the starting job away from Tukka Rask this season, he posted a 35-11-9 mark, had a 2.00 GAA and a .938 save percentage.

Four more victories

The Canucks dominated the National Hockey League's regular season. They have many skilled players and a strong goalie of their own in Roberto Luongo(notes). But, the presence of Thomas is sure to be felt in the season's final series.

Like defenseman Zdeno Chara(notes), Thomas is a game-changer. But, the Bruins have had other great players over the years and have not been able to secure Lord Stanley's silver chalice.

If Thomas can be the difference in four upcoming games, the Cup will be reclaimed by Boston for the first time since the spring of 1972. One of the most deserving players in the game would then have his name permanently connected to the most honored trophy in all of sports.

I became a Flyers fan during the 1970s. I met Dave Schultz during his "Hammer" days, consider street hockey to be the winter version of wiffle ball, remember Gene Hart as the best there ever was and wore an all-black mesh team jersey to school to honor Pelle's life after that November day. Follow me on Twitter @SeanyOB

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Updated Wednesday, Jun 1, 2011