What separates the top players from everyone else is how quickly they can recover from a devastating loss like the one the Boston Bruins suffered in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final to the St. Louis Blues.
For Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask, while he will never truly get over the pain of losing in Game 7, he said was able to move on from the loss within a few days speaking on the Greg Hill Show during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon on Tuesday.
“I don’t think you ever get over that, still getting flashbacks. But you know you got to realize it’s only sports, and it is what it is,” Rask told the Greg Hill Show.
But as Rask explained the loss to the Blues is just something you have to accept when playing sports. Sometimes a team wins and sometimes a team loses.
“Not too long. I think it was just a few days because you’re so in the groove and used to playing and practicing every day and then it’s just ‘boom, I don’t have to do anything now.’ I think that’s the biggest kind of change. But you know it takes a couple of days,” Rask told the show.
Rask was the leading candidate for the Conn Smythe Trophy had the Bruins won the Stanley Cup. He was amongst the leaders in the playoffs with 2.02 goals-against average and .934 save percentage. He was the best player on the ice for the Bruins throughout the playoffs.
Rask knows the grind of a long season that ended in such disappointment is more a mental challenge than anything else. He has gone through the experience of playing deep into the playoffs twice before. Once as a backup to Tim Thomas in 2011, the last time the Bruins won the Stanley Cup and again as the starter in 2013 taking over for Thomas, who had left the team. Just like in 2019, the Bruins lost in the Stanley Cup Final in 2013 to the Chicago Blackhawks in six games and had to a short off-season to recover from the loss.
The biggest challenge for a team in preparation for the following season is getting over the mental aspect of losing especially for the younger players. As Rask explained on the Greg Hill Show, the best thing a player can do is get away from the game for a while and mentally reset.
“I think the mental aspect is the biggest thing, especially if it’s a disappointing loss like that. You have to just kind of unwind and try to forget about hockey as much as you can,” Rask told the show. “But then again you only have 2 ½, three months until the next season starts and you’ve got to take a month for your body to recover. So it’s a really small window to kind of recover and then try to get back in shape. I think that if you can just kind of do something and stay somewhat in shape and keep skating, that’ll help you start the new season because you only had a couple of months between the games.”
With the hockey season being such a grind the fresher a player is mentally the better he will be heading into the next season.
“But I think mentally, it’s just such a grind, hockey season, you know you play 82 games plus 25 possibly, so mentally it’s very draining,” Rask added on the show. “And the fresher mentally you can be, the better off you are I think.”
The Bruins training camp begins Sept. 13.