There's no real reason to be doubting Thomas—August 8, 2010

In Boston on March 4, after a turnover, Tim Thomas went into a split and felt something give in his left hip — an area that had already been uncomfortable.

“I think it was hanging around for a little while. It’s hard to say,’’ Thomas said. “But the very first game back after the Olympics, after I made that save  at the end of the first period and did the splits, that’s when I knew something was really wrong.

“But that’s when Tuukka [Rask] was hurt. I ended up playing four games in six days. It just progressively got worse and worse.’’

By his estimation, Thomas turned an existing labrum tear into a bigger tear. He had less leg strength on the left side. Thomas felt the tear whenever he dropped into the butterfly. Through rehabilitation, Thomas nursed the injury through the rest of the season. But on May 21, one week after Philadelphia eliminated the Bruins, Thomas underwent surgery at New York’s Hospital for Special Surgery. Dr. Bryan Kelly, who also did hip repairs on David Krejci a year earlier, performed the surgery.

This Friday will mark 12 weeks since the operation. Doctors have ordered Thomas not to butterfly until then, although he usually doesn’t start skating until early September. Thomas said he feels no pain and that his recovery has progressed smoothly.

In hindsight, wear and tear on the hip prior to the tear — doctors and goaltending coaches have repeatedly expressed concern about how the butterfly technique places stress on the hips — could have been a reason why Thomas’s 2009-10 performance (17-18-8, 2.56 goals-against average, .915 save percentage) dipped from his Vezina Trophy season (36-11-7, 2.10 GAA, .933 save percentage) the previous year.

“Looking back, you can only guess,’’ Thomas said. “First of all, even an MRI doesn’t clearly show what’s going on in there. And we didn’t have one anyway of the hip. It’s impossible to say. But looking back, I think there was something there that was affecting my mobility even before we knew for sure.’’

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