NHL.com periodically will be doing a series called "Five Questions With …," a Q&A with some of the key figures in the game today aimed at gaining insight into their lives and careers.
Rask, long considered Thomas' eventual successor in the Bruins' net, consistently has been excellent this season. He has 17 wins, including three shutouts, a .928 save percentage and a 1.95 goals-against average heading into the Bruins' NBC Sports Network Wednesday Night Rivalry game at Prudential Center against the New Jersey Devils (7:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN, TSN).
GAA: 1.95 | SVP: 0.928
He discussed where that comes from and talked a bit about his role behind Thomas, what he's out to do this season and how the Bruins have been playing in front of him of lately in this exclusive Q&A with NHL.com.
Here are Five Questions with … Tuukka Rask:
When you first came to the NHL, the confidence you had and the bravado you showed were impressive. Where does that come from and why do you think you could exhibit it so early in your career?
"I think it's my style of play. It looks confident. I always try to be strong in the net, not overdo things, not be overly aggressive -- that's how I like to play. I think it's my style, how I play, it looks really confident.
"Ever since I came up everyone in the organization was very supportive to me on and off the ice. I felt that a lot. But I also guess if you feel confident or not, you can't exactly show that you're not feeling confident in front of the media. I don't know if that was part of it, but I have felt confident in this organization right off the bat."
You played a lot in 2009-10 and played well, but for the next two seasons you had to sit behind Tim Thomas and wait it out. He was successful and the team was successful, but for you as a prideful guy, was it tough to sit behind and watch?
"At times it was, yeah. But I recognized that Timmy was playing the best hockey of his career probably, and there's no question he deserved all the playing time. I sat back and tried to learn from him, watch him play and then just try to be a good team guy by not showing my emotions even if I was rattled. So, yeah, at times it was tough, but I think it was a good learning experience for me."
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Do you think you're still trying to get rid of or free yourself from the comparisons to Thomas because of the success he had?
"You know what? I don't think it's ever been an issue because our styles are so different. It was always a good tandem between us and they never compared us style-wise. I was trying to prove myself every night and I think the talk about Timmy has gone down.
"At some level there may be [other comparisons], but I don't think it's an issue as far as I know."
Do you feel you have something to prove now, this month and this postseason, considering where you are in your career and the team you have in front of you?
"Absolutely. I think every year you have something to prove no matter if you stunk the year before or if you were the best goalie in the League, you have to prove something every year. I don't look at that as a negative. I think it's more of a positive thing, to prove myself and prove to the team and all the people that we are capable of winning."
You have taken lots of shots-against lately and before your 6-2 win Monday against the Carolina Hurricanes, there was little room for error. In particular you faced 40 shots against the New Jersey Devils last week. Do you think the defense has been good and the shots weren't that dangerous, or has the defense been leaky?
"You know what? If you give up 40 shots there will be some dangerous shots. But I think [the game Monday] was a little bit worse than the Devils game with the scoring chances. I don't think we've been awful defensively, we've just had some breakdowns within the games that haven't cost us too much yet, but we still have to work at them and fix them.
"We know when you go to playoffs, the mistakes become more crucial and you have to minimize those. We're trying to get the mindset now to fix our game going into the playoffs, to play our game and really minimize our errors."