PITTSBURGH -- As long as Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask continues to play the way he has during the 2013 Stanley Cup playoffs, there's always going to be comparisons to former Bruins netminder Tim Thomas.
Rask posted his first career playoff shutout with a 29-save performance in a 3-0 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals on Saturday night at Consol Energy Center.
With the Bruins a series win away from returning to the Stanley Cup finals for the second time in three seasons, Thomas' name and historic performance in the B's 2011 Cup run have been brought up many times this year. After all, he was a two-time Vezina Trophy winner, and a Conn Smythe winner, too.
Through the first 13 games of Thomas' historic playoff run in 2011, he was 9-4 with a 2.39 goals-against average and a .927 save percentage. Rask is 9-4 with a 2.10 GAA and a .933 save percentage in 13 postseason games this spring.
They may be similar statistically, but Thomas and Rask are completely different. Just ask Bruins coach Claude Julien.
"Tuukka's normal, really. And you know what, I'm not going to get into Timmy," Julien said with a laugh. "I'm just saying Tuukka is normal like when I say normal as I've ever seen in a goaltender, I could talk to him during periods and go talk to him about a couple of things. I wouldn't dare do that with any other goaltender I've had in the past. They're in their bubble. But with him he listens and it's no problem, so on and so forth. So that's Tuukka. Very relaxed but you've seen the other side of him when things don't go his way, he's got a temper. That to me is normal."
Thomas of course could still be playing for the Bruins, but he decided to take this season off and the Bruins eventually traded his rights to the New York Islanders as a paper trade only.
That opened the door for Rask this season and he's proving his worth in the playoffs. Julien described the difference between the two on the ice.
"When you look at Tuukka when he's at his best he's straight to the puck," the coach said. "Tim is more of a battler. Timmy wasn't about style, it was about battle and as I said at the end of the day it's about making saves. You respect the Dominik Hasek back in the day as much as you respect the guy who is like Patrick Roy, great butterfly goaltender and those two guys had different styles but at the end of the day you take any one of them so we're in that same situation right now where we had Timmy make the save when you had to make the saves and didn't matter how he made them as long as he did, and Tuukka probably technically a little bit more, I don't know if I want to say stable, but he's more of a guy that will follow the puck getting him square to it most of the time."