Wednesday, January 5, 2011
Rask working 'to get in that groove'
By James Murphy and Joe McDonald
WILMINGTON, Mass. -- One quality that seemed to help Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask last season -- when he went 22-12-5 with a league-leading 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage -- was his composure and easy-come, easy-go approach. Well, after being pulled with a 4-3 lead after the first period of the Bruins' 7-6 shootout loss at Buffalo on Saturday, then coming back to silence the critics with a 36-save performance in a 2-1 win at Toronto on Monday, Rask employed that even-keeled approach on Wednesday.
"It was just one win, you know? Nothing more than that," said Rask, who is 3-7-1 with a 2.63 GAA and .927 save percentage this season. "Obviously, not letting up more than one goal is good for your confidence. I'm just trying to get in that groove and feeling good about yourself. It's just one game, one win, but I have to look at the future now."
Rask acknowledged that it has been a struggle to keep his confidence up with his diminished playing time this season.
"It's funny how it goes confidence-wise," Rask said. "When you're playing a lot, you're in that groove and you're feeling good about yourself. Then you don't play that much and you shouldn't be feeling bad, but there's nothing you can do about it because you haven't played. You try to find that groove and get on it. That's the challenge, and hopefully I can find it.
"I think at this level, it's more mental preparation and talking about things. Every goalie in this league is pretty good technically and there's nothing major you have to work at on that side, but you have to stay sharp mentally and figure things out mentally. That's the bigger thing I think."
That's why it was good to have Bruins goaltending coach Bob Essensa around when Rask and his teammates came back from their recent five-game road trip. Essensa has been a good advisor and listener for Rask and Tim Thomas to bounce ideas and questions off.
"It helps a lot," Rask said of Essensa's role. "We talk about things with Timmy a lot, and that's another thing. It's always good to have that extra pair of eyes upstairs looking at your game and looking at you in practice, seeing what you do wrong. It's good that [Essensa] comes here every now and then."
It's also good that Rask seems to have regained whatever confidence he might have lost recently. With five games in eight days coming up, head coach Claude Julien most definitely will turn to Rask so Thomas -- who played seven straight games recently -- can get some rest and stay fresh.
"I think it's important for everybody," Julien said. "For his sake, I think it was important that [Rask] bounce back and have a solid showing, and he did. For our team, we've got a lot of games coming and we need both our goaltenders to be at their best and we need to rely on both of them."