Chiarelli: 'Stage is set' for Rask to earn Bruins starting job

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Chiarelli: 'Stage is set' for Rask to earn Bruins starting job

WILMINGTON, Mass. It can be rare that a player and professional hockey organization are 100-percent on the same page when it comes to contract time, but thats where the Bruins and Tuukka Rask find themselves.

Rask has agreed in principle on a one-year deal with the Bruins worth 3.5 million that gives the 25-year-old goaltender his big chance to prove that hes a starting NHL goaltender capable of surpassing 50 games played while remaining healthy and productive.

Rask has never played more than 45 games in a year, and he tired noticeably at the tail end of the playoffs in 2009-10, so the one-year deal was pursued by both the player and the Bruins. But that season Rask also led the NHL with a 1.97 goals against average and a .931 save percentage, and has shown glimpses of what can do when handed the starting gig.

Bs general manager Peter Chiarelli said that longer-term deals were never really discussed, and instead Rask wants to prove he can be the man before he gets paid like the man.

Look, 3.5 million isnt exactly chump change, but weve all seen the goaltending carousel of contracts thats been going on lately, said Chiarelli. He wants to prove that hes the No. 1 goalie for the Bruins for a long time. This was the easiest way to set the stage for that.

Hes been a really good goalie for us, but for one year he hasnt been the No. 1 goalie. The stage is set for him and well see where it takes us.

Instead Rask will prove to himself and the Bruins that his conditioning and health can stay intact with a full starters workload at the NHL level, and Chiarelli said that its the Bruins intention to extend Rask further when theyre allowed to on January 1. Theres always the Rask risk on a one-year deal that the CBA climate while change and he could go from RFA to UFA when the one-year deal expires after next season.

But Chiarelli said hes operating under a philosophy of keeping a Stanley Cup-winning team together rather than anticipating whats coming down the pipe when the next labor deal is settled. That also comes into play given the notion that Brad Marchand, Nathan Horton, Tyler Seguin, Milan Lucic and Rask are all up for contracts after the 2012-13 season.

But the Bruins GM made no bones about his No. 1 priority with the Bruins: keeping his hockey club intact.

I think its a risk both sides are willing to take. In an ideal world this is a deal that we look to extend come January, said Chiarelli. There are seven or eight players up for contracts every year and I think thats a healthy cycle to go through. Believe it or not, Im trying to be cautious and Im trying to keep the team together.

I dont mind having a cluster of players that we need to make decisions on. We have a bunch of RFAs and well deal with them appropriately. It will be nice to see how the new CBA will work, and well know before we sign the restricted free agents.

The Bruins will officially announce the Rask signing on July 1, and Rask should officially be made available to describe his burning desire to prove he can be the man behind the mask in Boston.

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

Blidh plans to bring some energy to Bruins after call-up

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Anton Blidh plans on keeping things pretty straightforward on his first call-up to the NHL. 

The former sixth-round pick of the Bruins has earned his stripes at the AHL level with Providence over the last couple of seasons, and comes to Boston as a gritty, energy forward capable of stirring things up in otherwise sleepy games. There’s also a bit of offensive upside for a fourth line-type player with five goals and nine points with 22 penalty minutes and a plus-eight rating in 19 games for the P-Bruins this season. 

It remains to be seen if the Blidh call-up means that the Bruins intend to scratch a player or that somebody is questionable for Saturday afternoon’s game in Buffalo, but Patrice Bergeron did miss Friday’s practice without any real defined reason for his absence. The 21-year-old Swede said he plans to play to his strengths if he gets into the lineup for the Black and Gold, and that could mean getting under the skin of his Sabres opponents. 

“It’s my first time called up, so I’m happy,” said Blidh, who was asked what he'll bring if he gets into the lineup. “I’ll just play simple and play my own game: be hard on the puck and play with some energy. I worked hard [in Providence] and then I got some confidence. I’m not a goal-scorer, but I scored a couple of goals and got some confidence.”

Claude Julien hasn’t been able to catch up Blidh’s work since the season got started, but was pleased by the youngster’s progress in training camp, where he earned notice for his feisty, physical play on a line with Noel Acciari. 

“They said he’s playing well, so they brought him up. We’ll get to see him, hopefully tomorrow,” said Julien. “I didn’t hear a ton of fine details aside from him being a guy that was certainly playing with a lot of energy. I didn’t mind him in training camp either. He works really hard and competes hard, and we could use that.”

That would certainly be the case after watching the Bruins go through the motions for long stretches Thursday night against Carolina before essentially stealing a game that they didn’t deserve to win. 

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Friday, Dec. 2: Toews vs. Matthews

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading, while everybody in New England is in mourning over the latest Gronk booboo. 

*A pretty neat sharpshooting video with Jonathan Toews and that young whippersnapper Auston Matthews squaring off against each other. 

*Craig Custance looks a little deeper into the situation with the Florida Panthers and how things are stabilizing after the rough firing of Gerard Gallant last week. 

*Now. let’s get to the real important stuff: the San Jose Sharks website has put together their Movember rankings for the player’s mustaches. 

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Bruce Garrioch says that the plans for an outdoor game in Ottawa are again back on the NHL’s agenda. 

*Erik Erlendsson has put together a “Lightning Insider” website where you can find all the latest news about the Tampa Bay franchise. Check it out. 

*As guys such as Anton Khudobin prove when they’re thrust into the starting spot, backup goalies matter in today’s NHL. 

*For something completely different: a mash-up of Kylo Ren and “Girls” from the mad mind of Adam Driver is exactly just that.