Sometimes players can be weighed down by new big-money, long-term contracts. The pressure that comes with stacks of bands gets to some people, and their performance suffers as a result. Tuukka Rask isn’t in that club. The numbers eight and $56 million haven’t hung on his game like an albatross—the term and dollars of his extension.
If anything, Rask has taken his performance to another level after the Boston Bruins locked him up as their netminder for the foreseeable future. The B’s had some tough choices to make over the summer though, and had to let some good players go as a result of the salary cap sinking a bit.
The Tyler Seguin trade was the most highly publicized maneuver for obvious reasons. When backup netminder Anton Khudobin was allowed to walk as a free agent, it was met with nothing more than a whimper from pundits around the league and in Boston. 27 games into the season, Boston is starting to realize how important having a strong No. 2 option is.
That’s because Rask has started 22 of those games, leaving only meager scraps to backup Chad Johnson.
The 26-year-old is capable of being a workhorse to be sure, but he’s currently on pace to play 77 times this season. That number needs to be trimmed by 17 games or more if the Bruins want Rask to be fresh during the playoffs, and that fact doesn’t seem to be lost on the netminder.
Rask spoke to Stephen Harris of the Boston Herald about how he was holding up despite the heavy workload:
Obviously, I’m not as fresh as at the start of the year. But (it’s) not too bad. We’ve got a couple of days of rest here coming up. I feel pretty good. I try to take my rest anywhere I can. Eat a lot, drink a lot. Water. Your body takes a beating over the course of the year. You can feel tired. But you just try and manage it the best you can.
Boston headed Rask’s words quickly. Johnson started on Saturday when the Bruins took on the Columbus Blue Jackets and he came up with his fourth win of the season. More importantly, Rask got the night off and will have six days between games after playing three of four last week.
While the six days or rest is nice, the Bruins are going to have to find a way to get him more rest more often if they want their No. 1 to be rip-roaring and ready to go during the postseason.