Rask ready to be the man for the Bruins

Rask ready to be the man for the Bruins
January 8, 2013, 3:36 pm
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BOSTON -- Yes, its true that the Bruins would love to trade the rights to Tim Thomas. But that is going to be difficult given that the salary cap floor sits at 44 million and there arent any NHL teams desperate for his 5 million cap hit.

Yes, its true that Tim Thomas sat in on a recent NHLPA conference call as the union was discussing the potential pros and cons of decertification. But the erstwhile Bruins goaltender has indicated hes satisfied staying holed up with his family in their Colorado home.

Either way, he wont ever play for the Black and Gold again, and thats been true since he walked away from the team at the end of last years playoffs. Hes even become impossible for his former teammates and friends to reach.

I tried to call Timmy a couple of weeks ago, but he must have changed his phone number, said Tuukka Rask. I was never able to reach him, but Ill try to give him a shout at some point.

Credit Rask for making the effort to get in touch with his former Bs goaltending partner, and credit the Finnish goaltender for stepping into the breach heading into the 2013 regular season. This is Rasks team now, and its his chance to prove he can be the franchise guy in Boston after signing a one-year, 3.5 million deal this summer.

The 25-year-old netminder finished with a goals against average under 2.00 and a save percentage over .930 for Plzen in the Czech League.

I played against him over in the Czech League over the last few months and Tuukka was dominant, said Andrew Ference. The team he was playing on wasnt very good, so he was really carrying them. Thats an encouraging sign for us.

The Bruins will gladly take those kinds of numbers this season. Or simply a reversion back to the young rookie that led the NHL in both of those key statistical categories for goaltenders two years ago. It will help that hell be playing regularly rather than sitting for weeks at a time, as he did sporadically while splitting duties with Thomas over the last three years. Most are pointing to Rask's play as the key factor in the success or failure of the Bruins this season, and he's keenly aware of that challenge.

Ive been feeling good and working out with the guys in Boston for the last month after playing in the Czech Republic, said Rask. Im ready to go. You might get tired or fatigued physically at some point, but I like to play a lot. I prefer that to the alternative.

Unfortunately a 48-game shortened regular season wont allow Rask to achieve one of his objectives prior to the season: remain healthy and effective for 55-60 games at a consistently high level to prove his worth as a franchise goaltender. Instead hell likely share duties with Anton Khudobin this season, but still get a chance to show what he can do 2-3 times a week in a rapid fire schedule.

I havent seen the schedule yet, but Im assuming its going to be every other day," said Rask, who finished with a .929 save percentage and a 2.05 goals against average in 23 games for the Bruins last season. "So the workload is going to be big, but thats why you work out so hard in the summertime. As a goalie it will be a tough challenge physically and mentally. I went to play overseas to stay sharp and stay in game shape, so it wont be an issue for me.

Whether its 48 or 50 games that we play, Im sure its going to feel like a full season when were done with it.

Rask also hopes its a highly successful season for both him and the Bruins, so that hell be settling into a long term commitment with Boston once this shortened season is in the books.