BostonBruins.com - Tuukka Rask and the Bruins might not have any hockey to play at the moment, but that doesn't mean Boston's ace netminder isn't staying busy.
In addition to keeping in shape with daily workouts, including jogs and walks around his neighborhood, Rask is entrenched in diaper duty after he and his wife, Jasmiina, welcomed third daughter, Livia, late last month.
The unexpected pause of the NHL's season due to the COVID-19 pandemic has provided Rask with the opportunity for some extended time with his newly expanded family, including daughters, Vivien and Adelie.
"Last summer was very short," said Rask. "The past two seasons combined together almost, it felt like. I've kind of used this time off to get my mind off of hockey and just focus on family. We travel a lot and it gets taxing mentally to be away from your family. Just tried to re-focus my energy to family and just try to be present here at home."
With plenty to keep his mind occupied, Rask has not focused specifically on when hockey might be able to return. For now, he is doing his best to stay active, though he expects much of the ramp up in conditioning and his goaltending reflexes will happen once players are allowed back on the ice.
"I haven't stressed about that at all," said Rask. "I like to stay active and try to keep somewhat of a routine daily. I've been going for walks and jogs and working out and waking up early, I think that helps. But I haven't thought of any date that we could start playing because nobody knows. For me, that just saves my energy.
"If you start worrying about and thinking about when we might start playing then you're wasting energy. It's not good for me, at least. Having a few kids at home here definitely keeps you busy and keeps your head outside of hockey pretty easily."
In the past, part of Rask's offseason routine has included playing golf and tennis, both of which have been off limits for much of the two-month stay-at-home period. The netminder hopes that the easing of restrictions in recent days will allow him to resume those activities.
"Luckily, I have my drum set in the basement if I need to blow off some steam. I can do that and go outside and take a walk, play a round of golf here and there," said Rask. "It's definitely challenging when you're used to playing hockey at a competitive level and all of a sudden you have nothing, just diaper duty and baby-sitting."
Rask was thrilled that his partner between the pipes, Jaroslav Halak, was signed to a one-year contract extension earlier this month. The duo has proven to be, perhaps, the best in the league over the past two seasons, a partnership that has certainly helped Rask elevate his game and had him as one of the favorites to take home the Vezina Trophy this season.
"We've had the plan in place for a few years now. We don't want me playing 60-70 games," said Rask, who was 26-8-6 in 41 games played at the time of the NHL's pause. "I think if you look at my career, probably, I've played my best when there's a 1A, 1B situation and both goalies have gotten playing time and you're fresh going into the playoffs. It's gone well for me personally and also for the team it's been very beneficial.
"Super happy that Jaro signed for another year and we can keep the ball rolling that way. And also from the organization, [Bruins general manager Don Sweeney] has always talked to me that we set this plan up and we stick with it and it's been working.
"Jaro texting me last week and told me he signed, and I couldn't be happier. It will be fun with him for another year. We get along super well."
Not Done Yet
The 33-year-old Rask was leading the NHL in goals against average (2.12) and ranked second in save percentage (.929) and shutouts (five) when play was suspended on March 12. Rask, who paced the Bruins to the Stanley Cup Final last season, was playing some of the best hockey of his career, which he is not planning on coming to an end anytime soon.
"I haven't thought about retirement at all," said Rask, whose contract expires after the 2020-21 season. "I've never really thought of an age number that I would play until. I think a lot of it has to do with how long you want to keep playing. Is your body healthy and do you have that passion for the game still?
"Those are the questions that you try to think of. It's not necessarily 40 or 36 or whatever. You'll play as long as you can, and your body stays healthy and you want to keep doing it. Whenever that drive slows down, you've got to re-visit is this something that I still want to do? So far, I still have that passion of winning and playing and that drives me, the winning drives me.
"I haven't put a number into it about what age it might be. We'll see, maybe it's 36, 37 maybe it's 42. [Zdeno Chara] is still playing and he's getting older, so maybe I'll be the goalie who plays to 45, maybe not."
Rask was just 24 when he backed up Tim Thomas during Boston's run to the Stanley Cup in 2011. Almost a decade later, the backstop joined his teammates a few weeks back for a much talked about virtual reunion.
"I think the feedback was great," said Rask. "For the fans to see us and see us chirping each other, it was a good time. It was probably the best entertainment at that point during this quarantine for many. For us as players, we haven't seen each other like that since we won so it's been almost 10 years and we still kind of picked up where we left off.
"Everyone was on the same page, the same stupid jokes we were making and whatnot. It was awesome. And hopefully in the next year or two, I think there's a reunion happening and we can see each other in person and keep that going."