Former top prospect ready to handle B's backup goalie role
September 26, 2009, 11:17 PM
By: Matt Kalman
BOSTON -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask didn't do much celebrating after learning that he'd earned a spot on the opening-night NHL roster for the first time.
The 22-year-old netminder found out when he arrived at TD Garden for tonight's preseason finale against Columbus that the backup spot behind Tim Thomas was his because Dany Sabourin had been waived with the intention of assigning him to Providence.
"Obviously it's fine to be here," Rask said after he made 31 saves in a 4-2 loss. "But that's something that I've been hoping to happen and it's good that it happened. There's no big cheers to be on the team."
Rask can now finally go from being the club's top prospect, which he has been the past three years, to a factor on the NHL squad. Despite allowing four goals tonight, he finished the preseason with a .938 save percentage and 2.00 goals-against average in three games. He battled and prevailed, as the Bruins had obviously hoped he would when they decided to part ways with last season's backup, Manny Fernandez.
"When you look at the way he played the first couple exhibition games, it was pretty clear he had improved a lot from the first time we saw him," said head coach Claude Julien. "What I saw personally, last year in the playoffs, he was a solid goaltender for Providence. Where the year before, I thought he kind of collapsed a little bit, especially the last game.
"So, mentally he's become stronger. Physically he's become stronger. He's a lot more controlled and he's got more experience. So I think he's the right fit for us. ... And he's going to play. We all know that Timmy's a goaltender that is not a goaltender that will play 70, 75 games. So Tuukka will have to come in and do the job, and we feel confident in him being able to do that."
News and notes
The Bruins are off Sunday and will then have three days of practice before their season opener Thursday night against Washington at Boston. ... Shawn Thornton received a game misconduct for his fight with Jared Boll, which began after Chuck Kobasew's bout with Michael Blunden. Julien said the game misconduct did not come with any further discipline. ... Captain Zdeno Chara skated as a pair with free-agent signee Derek Morris for the second straight game. "I felt that we were moving the puck well. The communication is good, we tried to keep things simple and that's the key," said Chara. "It's been good."
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. He has been on the Bruins beat since the lockout for numerous publications and has been covering the Boston sports scene for a decade. Send any questions for Matt to his mailbag and he might answer them in his Bruins mailbag.