Melancon's wildest adventures are off the mound

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Melancon's wildest adventures are off the mound

FORT MYERS, Fla. -- When Mark Melancon comes into a game in the middle of an inning with runners on base and the game close, he's able to put things in perspective.

Sure, the prospect of losing a lead is daunting. But Melancon has faced more thrills and chills off the mound, and that allows him to focus.

Years ago, Melancon and his wife developed a "bucket list" of sorts. They compiled a laundry list of daring adventures they wanted to experience, and slowly but surely, have been checking off the activities each off-season.

This past winter, during which Melancon was dealt from the Houston Astros to the Sox, Melancon and his wife went to New Zealand where Mark was taking part in a program to work with Kiwi teenagers and introduce them to the game.

While there, the Melancons went on a shark dive, heading into deep waters in a protective cage, the better to be closer to some Great White Sharks.

"Shark Week (on the Discovery Channel) plays it up like the sharks are coming out of the water," said Melancon. "We didn't see any of that. It's like a big, huge fish is swimming by. It wasn't ferocious. They weren't coming to eat you, but they were right there, don't get my wrong. If you stick your hand out, it might be gone."

Great White expeditions are merely the latest activity.

"We have the whole gamut there," he said. "We didn't hold back (with the list). We've gone on safari. We have some crazy things. We've already hiked the Grand Canyon and biked the most dangerous road in Bolivia.

"It was as wide as a sidewalk with thousand-foot cliffs and no guard rails and cars coming at you. It's not like it's paved. It's just a dirt road. At that point in time, it was November and I think there were 55 or 56 deaths on that road."

Melancon resists the tag of "thrill-seeker.''

"It's more about getting out and being active,'' he said, "and not sitting on the couch and watching TV."

Nonetheless, the activities help him deal with the pressure associated with late-inning jams.

"One hundred percent, yeah," he said. "I always feel like if I'm out doing something, I'm learning rather than just sitting around. Subconsciously, I think it's there. I don't feel as pressured as someone else might."

Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

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Rask: Last season 'something to rebound from' personally

BRIGHTON, Mass. – While David Pastrnak, Tuukka Rask and David Backes are back from competing in the World Cup of Hockey in Toronto, that doesn’t mean you’ll see those players on the ice over the next couple of days. Perhaps the trio will practice on Monday in the fourth on-ice session at main training camp, but Bruins GM Don Sweeney confirmed that none of those returning players will suit up against the Columbus Blue Jackets in the B’s preseason debut at TD Garden on Monday night.

“Yeah…absolutely,” said Sweeney when asked if those three players have been ruled out for Monday night. “They’re going to get through the weekend here. Next week, we’ll evaluate [them] when they get on the ice. But, all those guys will not be on the ice until next week.

“It might be case-by-case for each guy. Those guys have been playing for a while at a high level. It’s unique for David Backes coming into the organization, so he’d like to integrate himself. I talked yesterday with all three of them just to get a read of where they’re at. But, sometime first of next week, they’ll be on [the ice].”

Both Pastrnak and Rask have checked in with the Bruins media over the last couple of days after returning from Toronto, and the Bruins goaltender, in particular, has plenty of motivation coming off a down statistical season. The 2.56 goals against average and .915 save percentage were well below his career numbers, and people like B’s President Cam Neely have pointed to Rask as somebody that needs to have a better season for Boston to rebound back into the playoffs this year.

“There were a couple of years where the standards pretty high, so obviously when they go down there’s something to rebound from. You kind of know where you can be. That’s where I try to be every year and I’m working on being there this year, and taking us to the playoffs and moving forward,” said Rask. “But every year is a new year where you’ve got to work hard, and set your goals to be at your best. More often than not you hope [being at your best] is going to happen, and I hope this year is going to be a great year for us.”

Clearly Rask wasn’t alone in his struggles last season behind a mistake-prone defense that allowed plenty of Grade chances, and that could be a repeating phenomenon again this season for the Bruins unless the defense is substantially upgraded along the way.

As far as the other three B’s players still taking part in the World Cup, it could be a while for Patrice and Brad Marchand as Team Canada has advanced to the final best-of-three series that could also feature Zdeno Chara if Team Europe is victorious.