WILMINGTON, Mass. Tuukka Rask has admitted previously that this is his first go-around with a groin or abdomen injury.
As such, theres a little bit of a learning curve as he returns from the injury he sustained on Mar. 3. Rask has talked with teammates like Andrew Ference and Greg Zanon -- both of whom have experienced similar injuries -- and a couple of his friends who have gone through the rehab process.
But there is some unfamiliarity with it all so Rask took it as a cautiously optimistic first step when he made it onto the practice ice with his teammates on Monday morning at Ristuccia Arena.
It will be just about six weeks from the injury when the first round playoff series against the Washington Capitals opens Thursday night, and the Finnish netminder is hoping he can be ready.
Even if hes not ready by Thursday, it won't be long after that he returns to his role as Thomas backup.
At this point Rask feels no tightness or soreness in the area. Its a matter of building up strength without setbacks a process that could be undone if the 25-year-old tries to push it too hard.
Well have to see. Im not making any calls on that. Claude Julien is going to have to make that call when Im ready, said Rask. Its not easy. Its been five weeks and a couple more days. Its been tough trying not to push it too much because you miss playing, being out on the road and being with the guys.
One thing that wont be an issue: any mental block from the injury. Rask said hell be free, easy and athletic as he ever was when hes ready for game action. He looked pretty good with his first action on Monday.
Claude Julien said that Rask is in the day-to-day mode with Johnny Boychuk, and both could very easily be ready by the time the postseason puck drops.
Youre just trying to keep your head in it knowing youre going to get back in there, but make sure youre getting better at the same time, said Rask. Im just going to go out and try to stop the puck. I talked to a couple of guys that have had these injuries. You have to stretch it out and do all kinds of funny stuff, but you cant think about it.
If youre thinking about it too much then youre not ready. What I try to do is make sure Im doing all of the movements I need to without even thinking of getting hurt again.
Theres every possibility Rask could do all of the work to get ready to play, and not even see a single minute of ice time during the playoffs. But thats something hell gladly accept on his way to returning to his dutiful role behind Tim Thomas.