Rask getting chance at lifelong goal of starting in net

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Rask getting chance at lifelong goal of starting in net

BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask has never played more than 45 regular-season games in a single year for the Boston Bruins, and hes always had to share the goaltending picture with the more established, oft-times brilliant Tim Thomas.

But now Thomas has walked away from the Bruins and the NHL, and the 25-year-old Rask suddenly finds himself as the guy between the pipes in Boston. Hes already proven how good he can be while leading the NHL in goals against average and save percentage during his rookie season, and Rask actually finished with better numbers than Thomas when last season (2.05 goals against average and a .929 save percentage) was finally in the books.

But now Rask gets the keys to the car after playing two years in the AHL with the Providence Bruins and sharing things with Thomas for three more seasons.

All my life this has pretty much been the goal. I played some games my first year consistently, but the year after was a step back in terms of playing time, said Rask, who was in Boston to visit the children getting treatment at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute prior to speaking with the media. Ive been waiting for a few years and its going to be interesting to see how I handle it.

Its going to be a challenge, but Im always up for a challenge. Im going to make the most of it and have some fun.

The 6-foot-2, 171-pound Rask is going to have to prove he can handle a 60-plus game workload and maintain his performance deep into the playoffs, but the only way to prove any of those things is by going out and actually doing them. There will be plenty of pressure on Rask working on a one-year deal worth 3.5 million for the Bruins, but the former first round pick has his own expectations.

Rask wants to prove hes the one and only starting goaltender for the Bruins franchise for the long haul, he wants to prove hes one of the best young goalies in the NHL and he wants to show that the Bs wont skip a beat as he replaces Thomas.

Those are lofty aims for Rask, but all the pieces are in place for him to excel surrounded by a defensively responsible group of teammates and a coaching staff that preaches good two-way hockey.

If Rask does all of that then his future in Boston will take care of itself.

Im sure Im going to get every chance possible to play, but if I cant get the job done then there will be more guys coming in, said Rask. We figured that the one-year deal is best for both parties, and then if I have a good year Ill get signed to a longer deal. If I suck then kick me out, you know?

It wasnt tough. We just needed to sit and talk about a few things. The decision to go one-year was a 5050 decision.

Rask was, of course, joking about sucking next year for the Bruins, but fellow twenty-something goalie Anton Khudobin will be around to push the Finnish netminder every step of the way. Most are expecting some difficult moments for the Bruins next year with Thomas out of the picture.

But the sight of a confident, healthy exuberant Rask with training camp six weeks away gives hope hes ready for the responsibility about to be dropped onto his slight shoulders.

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Friday, Dec. 9: John Scott calls it quits

Here are all the links from around the hockey world and what I’m reading while digging the Spider-Man trailer that dropped last night. 

*John Scott has finally called it a day and announced his retirement, and apparently there’s a book of his memoirs also coming out too. I’m predicting it’s not headed for the New York Times best seller list. 

*Winter Olympics participation and the CBA negotiations for the NHL are starting to merge into giant issue.  

*Connor McDavid calls the Flyers' Brandon Manning classless for telling him on the ice that he purposefully tried to hurt him last season. Some players might also take issue with McDavid making public what another player said to him on the ice. That’s kind of a no-no for most hockey players and breaks an unwritten rule that McDavid might think he’s above given his star status. This whole thing isn’t a good look for anybody. 

*Kevin Stevens pleads guilty to federal drug charges in what’s become a pretty sad situation for the former NHL star. 

*New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is beginning to raise questions with his play, and his massive price tag. 

*Youngsters Zach Weresnki and Dylan Larkin took similar paths to the NHL, and are both considered part of the talented young generation full of hockey stars. 

*PHT writer Joey Alfieri has Carey Price taking a nutty on Kyle Palmieri after the player crashed into his crease last night. Price is being celebrated for sticking up for himself, but if another goalie did that to a Habs player at the Bell Centre, there would already be a warrant out for his arrest. Play it both ways, Montreal!  

*For something completely different: here’s the aforementioned new Spider-Man: Homecoming trailer that looks pretty darn good. 

 

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

Two more Pastrnak goals pull him into tie for NHL lead with Crosby

BOSTON – While the loss to the Avalanche on Thursday night was a monumental dud, it put another dazzling display on the hockey resume of David Pastrnak. 

The 20-year-old star right winger scored two more goals in the 4-2 loss at TD Garden and nearly brought the Bruins back into the game by himself before another defensive breakdown at the end of the second period doomed them. 

Instead, Pastrnak had to settle with being the proud owner of 18 goals scored in 23 games that places him in a tie with NHL superstar Sidney Crosby for the NHL lead in goals. 

The goals also showed his wide range of lethal offensive skills. On the first score, he just broke away from the Avalanche defense and managed to bury a second-effort breakaway chance after a nice Tim Schaller stretch pass off the boards. The second goal was a straight one-timer bomb from the high slot off a slick setup pass from Brad Marchand in the corner, and it had the Bruins right back into the mix after a dreadful first period. 

It wasn’t enough when the B’s defense faltered again toward the end of the second period, but it was enough for everybody to be singing Pastrnak’s praises once again following the loss. 

“He’s a game changer. The momentum is going the other way, and he has the ability to break away on any given shift and score a big goal for us. He did that tonight,” said Torey Krug. “We can’t just keep relying on the same guys to score goals. We’ve got to come up with secondary offense, and I know every other guy wants to do that. 

“Now it’s about showing that on the ice and making sure we’re doing the work and getting better and proving to ourselves. But Pasta [David Pastrnak] has been great for us so far, and we’re obviously lucky to have him.”

The 18 goals barely two months into the season are not too shabby for a kid, in his third NHL season, who just now coming into his own. He’s nearly halfway to 40 before Christmas. For Pastrnak, however, it’s about the team result and he wasn’t overly satisfied with his two goals in a losing effort. 

“I’ve said before the season that our goal is to make the playoffs and to have that experience and have the chance to win the Stanley Cup. I’m still focusing on that,” said Pastrnak, who has yet to experience the Stanley Cup playoffs in his two-plus seasons with the Black and Gold. “We have zero points from tonight’s game and we have to move on. I think our game gets better in the second and third periods, you know, and we have to regroup and get ready for Saturday’s game.”

The Bruins will undoubtedly regroup and once again count on another Pastrnak offensive explosion to help lead the way in what’s become a truly spectacular season for the youngster.