MIDDLETON, Mass. – There are a couple schools of thought when talking about Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas both returning as the Bruins’ goaltending tandem for the 2010-11 season.
At least publicly, we now know what Rask’s position is in the matter.
“We had an awesome time last year and it’s a fair competition for both of us,” the 23-year-old said before teeing off at Shawn Thornton’s Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament at Ferncroft Country Club. “I think it’s healthy for a team and for us too when nobody takes anything for granted. We liked it and hopefully that continues.”
Whether the Bruins are stuck with Thomas because of his age, injury rehabilitation and contract, or the club has decided to keep him because it knows that Rask still has a lot to prove, it’s obvious that Rask’s school of thought is the one the organization now subscribes to. On the other hand, there has to be fear that a $5 million backup goaltender might not sit silently all season, which could hamper Rask’s development.
However, another unknown in this whole situation is what Rask will do for an encore after posting a 22-12-5 record, .931 save percentage and 1.97 goals-against average as a rookie. Those regular season totals, of course, were tarnished by Rask’s weary-looking play during the 3-0 collapse to Philadelphia in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.
For all anyone knows, there could be a sophomore jinx lurking around the corner. That’s not a worry Rask has right now.
“When you know that you have worked hard and you’ve done everything you can to be at your best, there’s nothing you can change. And that’s something I’m going to try to do. If it goes not so well, then it goes. But we’ll see,” he said.
Rask said he had an “awesome” summer home in Finland, where he worked out and met up with family and friends. He skated for the first time all summer last week in Finland and is now back on North American soil working out with strength and conditioning coach John Whitesides.
The biggest question with the rail-thin netminder is always: are you any heavier? He said he is.
“I’m heavier. I don’t know if that’s from the workouts or the food I ate.”
In addition to being a bit bulkier, Rask now has the hard lessons of last season at his disposal. While he said it took five or six weeks for his body to recover from the grind of his rookie year, the Flyers loss took an equal or greater mental toll – one he hopes will help him turn Boston’s future endings brighter in the future.
“Obviously, when something like that happens, it stays on your mind for a long time. But you’ve just got to realize what happened and then learn from that,” he said. “And I think if we were ever in the same situation again, we’re much stronger as a team and as individuals for [dealing] with that situation.”