Wilmington, MA -- Tuukka Rask
looks just like your average teenager, even more so when he is recently peeled out of his hefty Black & Gold hockey goalie gear. But his svelte frame, wide grin, bright eyes and a shock of unruly longish hair aside, when the Finnish teen starts talking, you can almost hear a veteran.
"Of course, it's nice," said Rask a-matter-of-factly of his call up. "I get a shot now."
In truth, he might
get a shot now (with the B's playing three games in four nights). But that's no problem, the philosophical Finn is ready, when, and if, his number is called this week.
Already 6-1-0 in the American Hockey League, the phenom hopes to make a similar impact in the NHL.
"I just have to keep working hard," he continued as the crowd of media began to swarm his locker -- much to the 'amusement' of the true vets in the room. "I saw these guys in training camp and I got to know them. It's fun to be here (because) these are nice guys -- all of them."
|Tuuka at practice... |
Rask is not kidding, on most days this year's Bruins locker room, buoyed by some early success and some strong personalities, has the warmth of a Sunday afternoon football-watching gathering.
However, Rask feels as if his transition has been smooth on the ice, as well as off.
"I think I've adjusted pretty well," said Rask. "The screens in front of the net will be the biggest challenge I see, this season, but I didn't have any problem with that."
No, he truly doesn't. Heretofore, the big goalie (6'3, 169 lbs.) has been downright unflappable, even with a dozen microphones and a NESN television camera in his face. And today, that face wore a bemused look as he fielded questions in his second language (he speaks three, Finnish, English and a little Swedish) as easily as he fields pucks.
"The games that I have played have gone pretty well," he said of the P-Bruins. "I've had no problems at all, so far. And I am pretty happy about that."
Everyone, with the exception of the Opposition, is happy about that. But NHL games are a whole different scenario.
"I just have to be aware the whole time and keep focused for the whole sixty minutes…I've talked to (P-Bruins head coach Scott Gordon, a former goalie) about that and how to keep focused…no matter how many shots I face."
Moreover, Rask has been studying the major league club whilst toiling as a bear cub in Rhody.
"I've watched every single game they've played on cable back home," said Tuukka. "It's been fun…following guys like Krejci and Lucic, and seeing how they do.
"(They've) looked good."
Sitting diagonally from him, on the other side of Andrew Alberts, Tuukka has a friend in Tim Thomas
"Of course, he's helped me out a lot," said Rask of the B's goalie. "I was here last July and we went to Calgary together and spent four days (there). He is a good guy and I have no problem talking to him.
Thankfully, Timmy has a willing ear and a decent command of Rask's first language.
"I'd say his (Finnish) is pretty good for a North American guy," said Rask with a little bit of a laugh and a smirk..
Here's hoping that there is more of a smirk on his face should the young man see action.