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Tuukka Back with Bruins

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

WILMINGTON, MA - Tuukka Rask was the last Olympian to rejoin his Bruins teammates on Thursday.

The netminder hit the ice for the team's optional skate at Ristuccia Arena, looking rested after spending a few days away from the rink after returning from Sochi.

"It was a lot of fun," Rask smiled from in front of his locker room stall, when asked about the experience in Sochi. "It was more fun than I imagined, but it's over now, and we're back here, back in business. Happy to be back, missed the guys."

Above his stall, his unpacked "Suomi" Team Finland mask sat just above his Bruins' one, the two of them mirror images. His bronze medal was somewhere in the locker room.

Rask had already switched back into Bruins mode, like the other Olympians, but you could see him light up talking about what his country was able to do on the Olympic stage.

"I mean, it's a great tournament, it's a tough tournament. You play against the best players in the world and it's not the same situation that's in the NHL but it's still a battle, and it was great, a great thing for the Finns to get that medal," he said. "Nobody expected us to win it."

He was also able to share the experience with Patrice Bergeron winning gold and Loui Eriksson coming home with the silver.

"And now, I think for our team, we've got three medals, so I think everyone should be feeling pretty good about themselves going into the month of March," said Rask. "And hopefully we can share that confidence we have from the Olympics to the other guys."

The goaltender played four games between the pipes for Finland, which nearly beat Canada in overtime before defeating Russia and eventually the United States for bronze with him in goal.

"Our system was really similar to us here; it really helps a goalie when a team plays defense and is really tight around that net," said Rask. "But I felt, for myself and as a team, I thought we got better as the tournament went on, and finished off with the best game."

He also had the chance to play with the Finnish Flash, Teemu Selanne, for the first time.

"It was huge. He had a little speech before the game, he just said for our country like Finland, these opportunities, you don't expect them to come every four years and when they come, we really try to make the most out of it, play for each other," said Rask.

"That was something that I've seen here, but I've never been on a national team like that, and we really felt like everyone played for each other, especially for Teemu, his last tournament, we wanted to finish off on the right note, and we did, so really happy for him."

Now, with his bronze soon stowed away, Rask has turned his attention to getting back in goal in Black & Gold. A hectic month of March awaits the Bruins, with 17 games packed into 31 days, including six back-to-back situations.

"Well, the good news is that we've been through it before, so it's nothing new for us, but we just have to approach it the right way and make sure we get our rest in the right times, and really dig deep in those game situations," he said. "It's going to be tough, but as I said, we've been through it before and we have the experience and leadership here to get through it and finish it off on the right note."

Personally, Rask is feeling refreshed heading into the final stretch.

"Yeah I feel good. You know, I only played four games, so I wasn't exhausted at that point and obviously, we had some time to relax there and just enjoy the experience too and on the way back, I slept the whole flight, so I pretty much feel back in the rhythm, so I'm ready to go."

Not traveling to Buffalo for the first game back after the Olympic Break helped that cause. It wasn't necessarily an easy decision, especially with the Bruins only picking up one point on the quick road trip, but it's a benefit in the long run.

"I was hurt a couple of years ago, so I watched plenty of those games from my couch but it was only one game and in the long run, it's just better to get your rest and be ready for the last stretch into the playoffs here," said Rask.

Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien had said he was energized by the competition overseas, helping Canada earn gold, and it had refueled his drive to accomplish the ultimate goal with his squad in the Spoked-B.

"As tough as it is there, you still get to enjoy it, and it's the same kind of grind and pressure as it is here, so you feel rejuvenated and sharp again," Rask agreed.

So, coming off the Olympics, with a tough slate of games on the way, is he the type that will ever admit he's tired?

"Well, everybody gets tired but I don't think you want to be running around and yelling you're tired to your teammates," Rask responded. "We always have to look sharp no matter what - but honestly, I feel good now, I don't feel tired."

"Ask me again after March," he smirked.

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