The Bruins netminder backstopped Boston to its first Stanley Cup in 39 years, hoisting that prized chalice last Wednesday in Vancouver after a 4-0 victory over the Canucks in Game 7 of the Cup Final. Thomas also raised the Conn Smythe Trophy that night after being named the MVP of the playoffs.
But there’s still one more trophy that Thomas would like to get his hands on this year, and he’ll get his chance Wednesday night in Las Vegas at the NHL Awards. Thomas is one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, awarded annually to the top goaltender of the regular season.
“The Cup’s harder to win, I can tell you that from experience,” Thomas said during Tuesday’s media availability at The Palms. “If I were to win [the Vezina Wednesday], it would still mean a lot to me. It would mean a great deal to me.”
Thomas already owns one Vezina from his stellar season in 2008-09, but taking home another would be even more special after everything he went through in between.
Thomas lost his starting spot to Tuukka Rask in 2009-10 as he battled a hip injury that required surgery after the season. He came back this year determined to prove he could regain his spot among the elite goaltenders of the league.
“When I was first starting to rehab from my hip surgery last summer, the first personal goal that I set for myself was to win the Vezina again,” Thomas said. “That’s part of the reason it would mean a lot to me. Plus, look at names on that Vezina Trophy. It’s still an honor to win the Vezina or even just to be nominated as one of the finalists.
“I was fortunate enough to win the Conn Smythe and the Stanley Cup already this year, and the Vezina is another one of those trophies that’s an honor to win,” Thomas added. “It’s definitely special. It would be icing [on the cake], but there’s two other goalies here that had great years.”
Thomas’ competition includes a familiar rival in Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo, whom the Bruins bested in the Cup Final, and Nashville’s Pekka Rinne. The Bruins torched Luongo several times in the Final, but he did post an impressive 38-15-7 record, 2.11 GAA and .928 save percentage in the regular season. Rinne was 33-22-9 with a 2.12 GAA and .930 save percentage.
Those numbers still pale in comparison to Thomas, who was 35-11-9 with a league-best 2.00 GAA and an NHL-record .938 save percentage.
Thomas, however, was quick to share the credit for those stats.
“Goaltending is a very team-dependent position,” Thomas said. “I’ve learned that, even at points this season I’ve learned those lessons on a game-to-game basis. The difference when the team plays well in front of you is a huge difference to a goaltender. I couldn’t have accomplished anything that I’ve accomplished so far without all that other help. There’s no doubt about it.”
Just as there’s little doubt that Thomas should be holding one more trophy by the end of Wednesday night.
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