BOSTON – It’s been a long time in the making but Boston Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask will make his first start this season on Thursday night at TD Garden after signing a one-year, $1 million deal this week. As a warm-up, Boston Bruins fans at TD Garden were chanting “We Want Tuukka!” during the third period of Wednesday night’s 5-1 blowout win over the Canadiens.
We have a “WE WANT TUUKKA” chant at TD Garden: pic.twitter.com/tC4jjqYQSV
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) January 13, 2022
Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy wasn’t going to throw him in cold against the Habs and instead will give his veteran goalie the day on Thursday to ramp up to a scheduled start against the Philadelphia Flyers in the second night of back-to-back games. The Boston Bruins were top-10 in the NHL in goals against average and save percentage with Jeremy Swayman and Linus Ullmark, but the B’s believe they can even aim higher bringing the winningest goalie in Bruins franchise history back in the fold.
“I do believe there is a certain electricity, a certain buzz,” said Cassidy, of the anticipation around Tuukka Rask coming back. “We feel he’s going to make us better at that position. That’s why the decision was made. We’re happy to have him. Let’s go.”
Certainly, Rask himself is excited to jump back into the fray even if he didn’t get the warm-up games with the Providence Bruins last week after a COVID outbreak wiped out their game schedule.
“I’ve been practicing with the team for quite a bit now,” said Rask. “I’ve been skating for a few months. So the sooner you throw me in there, the better it is. You can practice all you want; the game is totally different situations. Physically I’m ready, just making sure I don’t get too frustrated mentally.
“I think the biggest motivation is to play with the group I’ve played with my whole career and have another chance to win. That’s about it. When you do a surgery like that for a goalie, it’s a pretty significant injury, takes a lot of time to recover. When you try to come back, you don’t know how it’s going to react and whatnot. I’m just trying to get back in the groove of things and play some solid hockey and then go from there.”
The 34-year-old Rask said he hasn’t thought much about his future beyond this season, and it will be interesting to see the veteran goalie added to the mix of a Boston Bruins hockey team that’s amidst its best stretch of the season. But the lifetime 306 career wins in Black and Gold and the lifetime .925 save percentage in the playoffs speak for themselves, particularly against the postseason inexperience with guys like Swayman and Ullmark.
That being said, nobody knows how this is all going to turn out as the Boston Bruins add Rask and essentially fix something that wasn’t really broken in the first place.