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Panthers goalie Tim Thomas set to face off against former Bruins teammates

Despite a wonky groin, Florida Panthers goalie Tim Thomas has shown flashes of the brilliance that won him the Vezina Trophy in 2011 with the Boston Bruins. Despite a wonky groin, Tim Thomas has shown flashes of his 2011 Vezina Trophy-winning form. (Getty Images)

By Michael Blinn

As Batman once said, "You either die a hero, or you live long enough to see yourself become the villain."

Depending on whom you ask, and what day of the week you do it on, Tim Thomas is either a hero or villain to Boston fans. The undersized goalie was often times stellar for the Bruins, backstopping the franchise to it's first Stanley Cup in 40 years in 2011, adding the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP to go with his Vezina Trophy as the league's top netminder.

It was the following season, however, that the honeymoon phase began to wear off. Thomas skipped the team's trip to the White House due to his political beliefs, which he also began to spout on his Facebook page. Once the season ended -- a season in which he was voted starting goalie at the 2012 NHL All-Star Game by fans -- Thomas announced he would be taking the 2012-13 season off for personal reasons, and ended up being traded to the Islanders in February after not making much of a peep for eight months.

The goalie walked as a free agent in the offseason and signed a last-minute, one-year deal with the Panthers this season, with whom he's shown flashes of his former greatness as he shakes off the rust from not having played for a season.

CAZENEUVE: Thomas worth the risk for Panthers

With both the Bruins and the Panthers in the Atlantic Division in a re-formatted Eastern Conference, it was only a matter of time before Thomas, who is sporting a groin injury along with a 1-2-0 record, 5.05 GAA and .850 Sv%, had a chance to play against his former teammates.

https://twitter.com/FlaPanthers/status/390562753762824192

They'll see one another on the ice for the first time since Game 7 of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final in Vancouer, though even in different uniforms, there'll be some familiarity in the air as Thomas is back to the same shenanigans that the Boston media dealt with during his tenure in Beantown:

https://twitter.com/HackswithHaggs/status/390550587588083712

While the post game press conference should be plenty of fun, it seems fans might also be in for a treat or two once the puck drops at the BB&T Center in Sunrise, Florida. Thomas' former protege, Tuukka Rask (3-2-0, 1.41 GAA, .951Sv%), is ready to take things up another notch:

https://twitter.com/AmalieBenjamin/status/390562274714595328

It appears the Bruins and their beat writers are already having fun with the ordeal, but we'll have to wait another 24 hours to see if Thomas is willing to oblige.

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