Tuukka Rask had no idea if he would be between the pipes for Wednesday's game at Pittsburgh, Thursday's game against Montreal back at TD Garden, or Saturday's home game with the Senators. But the laidback Rask isn't sweating it out. It's not that he doesn't want to play almost every game, as he did down the stretch and in the playoffs last season, but he knows it's not his call. The way Rask sees it, he just needs to keep working hard in practice and making the best of each opportunity he gets.
"You just need to keep practicing hard and stay sharp, then play your best when you get in there," Rask said after practice Tuesday.
That's what he did with a 34-save performance in the 2-1 shootout loss Saturday to the Blues, and while he would have preferred to get the win for his team and his first win of the season, Rask said he feels good about where his game is right now.
"I thought it was a solid game for me," said Rask, who is 0-3-1 with a 2.66 GAA and .921 save percentage this season. "I felt like I was seeing the puck really good, and controlling my rebounds. Guys were blocking shots like they have all year, but when they got through I was seeing them and had no problem with control."
Rask said there wasn't a major difference in the way he felt Saturday versus the way he felt in his previous three appearances, but he did say the fact he got to play the third period in relief of Tim Thomas in the Bruins' 5-3 loss Friday helped his game against the Blues.
"I honestly felt like I played well in both those games," said Rask. "Now I think though that I felt better starting with that third period at Washington Friday. That was huge for me to get in there and have before starting Saturday. So I think I built off that."
If Rask doesn't get back in over the next three games, he said he won't gripe and he definitely won't hold any animosity toward Thomas. He and Thomas have always gotten along and have a friendly competition between them, he said.
"There's never been bad feelings or 'I'm better than him' type of a thing. I mean, yeah, we're competitive with each other but in a good way and it's that way again this year. He's been playing great and you have to do what's right for the team."
That relationship and approach from each goalie hasn't gone unnoticed by their teammates and has created a healthy situation for the Bruins between the pipes.
"It doesn't always happen with every team, but here that truly is the case," team captain Zdeno Chara said of the way each goalie has handled riding the pine at various points of the last two seasons. "Maybe one guy will hit a wall and it takes the other guy a bit of time to get back and get going, but these guys stay upbeat and always ready. They don't complain or sulk. To have this dynamic, it's a great plus, and [Rask] handles it well and so does Timmy when he's in that spot.
"We've got two great goaltenders and we rely on both of them. I know Timmy's playing a lot right now and he's really hot, but Tuukka, any time he gets a chance to play, he takes it to heart and plays his best, competing like crazy. That's good news for us."