In probably the worst case of timing the Bruins goaltending tandem have exhibited all season, Tuukka Rask voiced discontent with his playing time to a Finnish news outlet during a recent interview.
That it cropped up while goalie partner Tim Thomas is causing an uproar with his politics-filled Facebook account just makes it that much more troublesome.
Rask recently told the Finnish magazine, Urheilu Lehti, what anybody with a competitive bone in their body must have assumed were his private thoughts as a backup goaltender.
Rask clearly wants to play more.
While Rask and Thomas have been closer to even in their playing time this season, the Finnish understudy doesnt seem to dig being an apprentice much longer. Granted all caveats have to be made for imperfect translations and the Finnish media weighing in on the topic from an outside position, but the Rask quotes tell the story.
"The truth is that I want to play more. I do not want to spend a whole career sitting on the bench," Rask said to the Finnish sports media through the power of Google translator. "It is felt that even when I have a good game, the next game is on the bench. If I play and have a shutout, it is not enough.
Claude Julien answered some very vanilla Rask questions following Friday mornings practice at TD Garden, and it appeared Tim Thomas may be getting the start Saturday afternoon against the Nashville Predators.
Everybody knows Rask is getting impatient while waiting it out for his turn as the No. 1 goaltender to arrive. Its all the more patience-trying when a fellow countryman like Pekka Rinne arrives in town with a weighty new contract and superstar NHL status in tow.
Those are things that Rask clearly aspires to as well as a product of the goaltending factory known as Finland.
But Julien said Rask has done a good job this season maturing into his role, and demanding more like playing time while riding a four-game losing streak normally isnt the safest road to go down. Rask is 0-2 with a 4.54 goals against average and .854 save percentage in two games during the month of February, and was yanked early in the monumental defeat in Buffalo.
With that in mind, Rask was out on the ice before and following practice Friday morning while working to get that comfortable feeling back between the pipes.
Getting pulled out the other night he knew right then and there that he wasnt comfortable and he wasnt good enough. There were no issues at all, said Claude Julien. Its just the way it goes. Its a long year. Sometimes he feels like things are off and today he went out there early to work on his game. Hes a really good athlete when it comes to honestly analyzing his game: when he feels good and comfortable he knows it and when hes not he senses it.
He didnt feel comfortable the other night and I think he told Timmy sorry for putting you in this spot. Thats the kind of player he is. Thats Tuukka in a nutshell.
Hes also been consistent with the Boston media that he loves the city of Boston, and any discontent is borne out of being a natural competitor.
Rasks time will come and he seems to know it no matter what a Finnish newspaper has quoted him as saying. But hes also clearly still the backup.
Thomas has made 35 appearances this season to Rasks 20 games despite the 24-year-old Finn sporting the same save percentage and a better goals against average.
Hes more mature and hes had a good year. His last few games he hasnt been on top of his game, but he knows that. I dont even have to tell him. He knows it, said Julien. As a coach you know hes working on certain things and he wants the extra time. Hes playing more at this time this year than he did last year, but he wants to work hard to stay sharp.
As a group we still have a lot of confidence in this guy. As you saw earlier in the year hes got as good a numbers as Tim does.
Time will tell how things play out between Rask and Thomas, but a playing time gripe to a Finnish news outlet is certainly not what the Bruins needed with the current state of their goaltenders.