WILMINGTON, Mass. -- As members of the Boston Bruins began their day Friday, preparing for a 10:30 a.m. practice, many tried to catch some of the Finland-Sweden semifinal game at the Winter Olympics in Sochi. They were all surprised to see teammate Tuukka Rask not in net for Finland.
“I woke up, early to see him play, and unfortunately he wasn’t able to play in the biggest game for Finland,” left wing Milan Lucic said of Rask, who was unable to go for the Finns due to the flu. “I was able to talk to him after last game. He was looking real forward to today.”
That last game was a 37-save effort in a 3-1 win over the host Russians, which vaulted Finland into Friday’s semifinal game against Sweden. Kari Lehtonen got the nod in Rask’s place as the Finns fell 2-1.
Rask’s teammates back home were left to wonder, “What if?”
“Maybe if Tuukka was playing [the result would have been different],” center Chris Kelly said. “Not to take anything away from the other guy, but I’m a little biased. Tuukka’s pretty good.”
Although he does not share Rask’s Olympic experience, fellow netminder Chad Johnson could feel his teammate’s pain.
“That’s tough for him, especially playing against the Sweden team,” Johnson said. “I know how much that means to him to play against that team. To be in the Olympics, only happens every four years, he was excited to be a part of it and to miss that game, you feel for him. Because you know how passionate he is about winning and how excited he was to try to bring home to his country a gold medal.
“It’s just disappointing.”
Finland will play for the bronze medal Saturday against the loser of the U.S.-Canada game.