BOSTON -- When Tim Thomas arrived at a Calgary-based goalie camp back in August, he soon found himself training alongside two of the most highly regarded up-and-comers in the sport.
The 33-year-old Thomas spent a lot of time rubbing elbows with Montreal Canadiens rookie Carey Price and former Maple Leafs prospect Tuukka Rask, a netminding pair that might dominate the position for years to come.
"Both those guys are so calm and cool -- a lot more than I was when I was their age," Thomas said.
"I watched Carey play against the Leafs (Tuesday) and it never looked like he was ever out of control. And I see a lot of the same things in Tuukka that I see in Carey. He's the real deal, for sure.
"It's funny, but all three of us are doing well."
In the case of Thomas, that is an understatement.
While Price is flourishing with the Habs and Rask is adapting to hockey life in North America with the Boston Bruins' AHL team in Providence, Thomas once again has clawed his way to the Bruins starter's job.
Seventeen months ago the Bruins dealt former rookie-of-the-year Andrew Raycroft to the Leafs for Rask, a gangly Finn who was voted the top goalie at the 2006 world junior in Vancouver.
This past summer came another goalie, former Minnesota Wild goalie Manny Fernandez, who was acquired via trade in order to, in the minds of many, be the Bruins' starter.
With Fernandez as the goalie of the present and Rask in the role of goalie of the future, there did not seem to be much room for Thomas. But when Fernandez got off to a rocky start, partially because his past knee ailment flared up, Thomas stepped in.
He has not looked back.
Going into tonight's game against the Leafs, Thomas sits second in the league in save percentage (.950) and fifth in goals-against average (1.65), allowing the offensively challenged Bruins to be close almost every night.
"I think I've proven I can be No. 1," he said. "I just think the chance came quicker than many expected. I'm happy with my start. I don't want too much credit when we win because I don't want credit when we lose."