Rask

Rask

WORCESTER, Mass. — With the Boston Bruins out of town, I decided to take in the future of the franchise at the DCU Center, as Providence visited the Worcester Sharks.

While the shot count might’ve been a little skewed toward the home team, Providence goaltender Tuukka Rask still had a standout night with 46 saves during regulation and overtime, and four saves in the shootout, in a 3-2 win.

“There was a lot of shots. But our guys blocked most of those shots pretty well. And I saw most of them well,” said Rask, the prized Boston prospect.

With the win, Rask is now 14-10-0. Providence head coach Rob Murray spoke glowingly of his puck-stopper after the contest.

“Tuukka’s been very solid. One of those things I was hoping for him to find this season was kind of a groove. Last year was a little bit of a different year for him with (Manny) Fernandez being hurt as much as he was, (Rask) was up and down with Boston. This year … it’s a year for him to improve and right now he’s carrying the ball and he’s just playing solid right now. I can’t say that he’s not spectacular, but he’s just good. He’s making the saves, he’s keeping us in games. And one of the things he’s doing … last couple of games at home, we kind of got outplayed early in the game and he stood tall, made some saves and kind of let us get our legs.”

Martin St. Pierre’s promotion to Boston has opened up a first-line slot with Providence between veteran winger Peter Schaefer and Martins Karsums. Tonight ’07 first-round pick Zach Hamill filled the slot admirably,  although that line was on the ice for the Sharks’ tying goal late in the third period. Hamill was skating in just his 18th game of the season after missing the first chunk of games with a hand injury. Murray, who in the past had Hamill centering Jeremy Reich and Byron Bitz, and then Mikko Lehtonen and Matt Marquardt, is figuring Hamill’s still catching up physically and should be on the right track come the second half.

“He’s got to get stronger. I think he’s probably still behind the game as far as where he needs to be. And I don’t look any further than that month that he was off. … I’m very optimistic that he’s going to get better and better. This is his October and he’s just trying to get his legs,” Murray said.