PHILADELPHIA – Tim Thomas was invisible in last year’s playoffs, never called on to stop a Flyers’ comeback that knocked Boston out of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Only an injury could keep Thomas out of Boston’s net this postseason.

Thomas rebounded from offseason hip surgery and won 35 games, had nine shutouts and is one of three finalists for the Vezina Trophy, given to the NHL’s top goalie each year.

He’s played every minute of Boston’s postseason run — an envious stat for a Flyers team that has used net roulette throughout the playoffs.

Game 2 is tonight in Philadelphia.

Thomas had 31 saves in Boston’s 7-3 Game 1 win over Philadelphia in this year’s East semis and gives the Bruins the durability and stability needed to make a deep playoff run.

“He was very comfortable from the start,” Boston Coach Claude Julien said. “But that is just Tim getting better and better as these playoffs move forward.”

The Bruins are counting on his improvement to reach the conference finals a year after they blew a 3-0 lead against the Flyers. Thomas was a bystander when the Bruins suffered their meltdown.

It was a big bump in the career path for one of the top goalies in the NHL. Thomas won the Vezina two years ago and signed a five-year contract extension in spring 2009. But he slumped to a 17-18-8 record with a 2.56 goals-against average and .915 save percentage last season and lost his job to Tuukka Rask.

Thomas played in just three of Boston’s final 12 regular-season games and didn’t make a playoff appearance.

Rask was in net for all seven games of last year’s series with the Flyers, when Boston became the third NHL to blow a 3-0 best-of-seven series lead and fail to advance.

Thomas intends to finish the job this year.

“We’re pretty fortunate to have Timmy, and even Tuukka there,” Bruins center Brad Marchand said Sunday. “We have a great duo. But at playoff time, it’s so tough because a goalie can get hot at any time.”

Thomas’ defensemen were stout in front of him in Game 1, and Thomas wasn’t forced into any spectacular saves. Boston’s 5-1 lead was cut to 5-3 before the Bruins scored two late goals to turn it into a romp.

“You usually do not have those type of leads in the playoffs so it was nice, but we didn’t have that lead all game,” Thomas said. “It was still a playoff game, and Philly is known for their comebacks, even within games, so you have to be on your toes.”

Thomas allowed five goals in the first two games of the first-round series against Montreal, both losses. When he settled down, so did the Bruins, who eliminated Montreal in seven games.

“What you saw early in the first round was not indicative, like the rest of our team, (of us) when we made uncharacteristic mistakes,” Julien said. He never wavered on his starter.

The Flyers have been stymied in finding the answer to the most valuable position on the ice. Brian Boucher allowed five goals and some soft rebounds before he was replaced in Game 1. The Flyers made their fourth goalie change in eight playoff games, a staggering number for a team that spent a chunk of the season leading the Eastern Conference.

Boucher has been the goat as a starter and a star reliever — he won two games off the bench versus the Sabres. He’s wants that Game 2 start.

“I will prepare the same way I do every day and we will see what happens,” Boucher said. “I think there are only so many times you can make a change before you run out of nine lives.”