Rask ready to be the man for the Bruins

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Rask ready to be the man for the Bruins

BOSTON -- Yes, its true that the Bruins would love to trade the rights to Tim Thomas. But that is going to be difficult given that the salary cap floor sits at 44 million and there arent any NHL teams desperate for his 5 million cap hit.

Yes, its true that Tim Thomas sat in on a recent NHLPA conference call as the union was discussing the potential pros and cons of decertification. But the erstwhile Bruins goaltender has indicated hes satisfied staying holed up with his family in their Colorado home.

Either way, he wont ever play for the Black and Gold again, and thats been true since he walked away from the team at the end of last years playoffs. Hes even become impossible for his former teammates and friends to reach.

I tried to call Timmy a couple of weeks ago, but he must have changed his phone number, said Tuukka Rask. I was never able to reach him, but Ill try to give him a shout at some point.

Credit Rask for making the effort to get in touch with his former Bs goaltending partner, and credit the Finnish goaltender for stepping into the breach heading into the 2013 regular season. This is Rasks team now, and its his chance to prove he can be the franchise guy in Boston after signing a one-year, 3.5 million deal this summer.

The 25-year-old netminder finished with a goals against average under 2.00 and a save percentage over .930 for Plzen in the Czech League.

I played against him over in the Czech League over the last few months and Tuukka was dominant, said Andrew Ference. The team he was playing on wasnt very good, so he was really carrying them. Thats an encouraging sign for us.

The Bruins will gladly take those kinds of numbers this season. Or simply a reversion back to the young rookie that led the NHL in both of those key statistical categories for goaltenders two years ago. It will help that hell be playing regularly rather than sitting for weeks at a time, as he did sporadically while splitting duties with Thomas over the last three years. Most are pointing to Rask's play as the key factor in the success or failure of the Bruins this season, and he's keenly aware of that challenge.

Ive been feeling good and working out with the guys in Boston for the last month after playing in the Czech Republic, said Rask. Im ready to go. You might get tired or fatigued physically at some point, but I like to play a lot. I prefer that to the alternative.

Unfortunately a 48-game shortened regular season wont allow Rask to achieve one of his objectives prior to the season: remain healthy and effective for 55-60 games at a consistently high level to prove his worth as a franchise goaltender. Instead hell likely share duties with Anton Khudobin this season, but still get a chance to show what he can do 2-3 times a week in a rapid fire schedule.

I havent seen the schedule yet, but Im assuming its going to be every other day," said Rask, who finished with a .929 save percentage and a 2.05 goals against average in 23 games for the Bruins last season. "So the workload is going to be big, but thats why you work out so hard in the summertime. As a goalie it will be a tough challenge physically and mentally. I went to play overseas to stay sharp and stay in game shape, so it wont be an issue for me.

Whether its 48 or 50 games that we play, Im sure its going to feel like a full season when were done with it.

Rask also hopes its a highly successful season for both him and the Bruins, so that hell be settling into a long term commitment with Boston once this shortened season is in the books.

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

Ainge: Isaiah Thomas visiting hip specialists, no decision yet on surgery

BOSTON – The last 2 1/2 games for the Celtics have come without Isaiah Thomas (right hip) and it has certainly been a factor in Boston trailing Cleveland 3-1 in the Eastern Conference Finals heading into tonight’s must-win for the Celtics to keep their season alive.
 
There have been rumors that if the series with Cleveland were closer, maybe that would lead to a return to the floor for Thomas.
 
“No. No way. He’s done [this season],” Danny Ainge, Celtics president of basketball operations, said on 98.5 the Sports Hub’s "Toucher & Rich" show this morning.
 
Ainge said there’s still swelling in the hip, and it probably won’t go down enough for doctors to make a determination whether surgery is needed for another couple weeks.

Thomas was in New York City earlier this week visiting a hip specialist. He's expected to consult with at least two more before making a decision as to what's the best course of treatment.
 
“Everybody agrees if there’s anything that needs to be done to it surgically, it helps...if the inflammation goes down,” Ainge said. “The recovery [time] would be quicker.”
 
The injury initially occurred on March 15 against Minnesota.
 
Ainge said he didn’t become too concerned about it until after Thomas re-aggravated it in Game 6 of the second-round series against Washington and was questionable to play in Game 7.
 
“I was worried going into the Cleveland series that he was nowhere near himself in Game 1 or 2,” Ainge said. “And Game 2 in the second quarter it was clear he was in a lot of pain. No way we could go out and allow him to play the second half.”
 
Boston was blown out 130-86 in Game 2. In the first half, Thomas had two points and six assists, while missing all six of his shots from the field.
 
Ainge said there was “a lot” of irritation and inflammation around the affected joint in Thomas' right hip.
 
“It had gotten worse from the MRIs he had before,” said Ainge, who added that it would have been “irresponsible to allow him to play anymore.”
 

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

Butler reaction to Gilmore signing: 'We got another good player'

FOXBORO -- Thursday's OTA practice at Gillette Stadium gave reporters their first opportunity to see both Malcolm Butler and Stephon Gilmore on the field at the same time.

Once Gilmore signed with the Patriots earlier this offseason, there was no guarantee he'd actually team up with the 27-year-old in his fourth season out of West Alabama. But Butler wasn't given an offer sheet by the Saints or anyone else, he wasn't traded, and now together they make up one of the most talented cornerback duos in the NFL. 

"Um, nothing much really," Butler replied when asked for his initial reaction to the Gilmore deal. "Nothing much really. We got a better player. We got another player. We got another good player on this team. Anything to help the team win, I'm down with."

Depite the fact that Gilmore is the one who received the big-money contract from the Patriots earlier this year, Butler had nothing but good things to say about his teammate following Thursday's workout. 

"He brings the size and the coverage skills," Butler said. "One of the best guys in the league. Very underrated. [He's] come in, head down, working hard. Just trying to build off each other no matter what."

Butler acknowledged that the corner group, which also includes Eric Rowe, Cyrus Jones and Jonathan Jones, has some work to do when it comes to their communication, but he indicated he'll be happy to chip in wherever he's needed. The Patriots could use some help in the slot following Logan Ryan's departure to Tennessee, and Butler said he'd be open to playing inside.

"Wherever they put me, I'm gonna play that role," he said. "I'm ready to play the slot if that's what it is."