BOSTON, MA – Tim Thomas' decision to take a year off from hockey seemed to vault Tuukka Rask into the top spot on the B’s goaltending depth chart, but the Finnish netminder isn't approaching this season any differently.
As local media pressed him Thursday about his expanded role, Rask calmly assured reporters (and the Bruins faithful) that he has always been prepared to be the go-to guy in Boston.
"I've been waiting for a few years now [so] it's gonna be interesting to see how I handle it," Rask said after visiting with children at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "It’s going to be a challenge but I’m always up for a challenge and you just got to make the most of it and have fun."
Despite the absence of the two-time Vezina Trophy winner, Rask is fully aware that the B’s brass will look elsewhere if he’s unable to provide returns on their one-year investment.
|Thomas & Rask shared the crease for several seasons. |
"I'm sure I’m gonna get every chance to play possible but if I can’t get the job done, there’s gonna be more guys coming in," Rask acknowledged.
The past few years of media scrutiny of Rask versus Thomas certainly created competition for the lion’s share of the minutes between the pipes, but other goalies on the Bruins roster, including Anton Khudobin, will continue to push Rask to perform.
"When there was two of us on the team the whole time, there was controversy going on all the time, so that’s gone now," Rask said in reference to Thomas. "But maybe it’s going to be between me and 'Dobby' next year – who knows?"
While those outside the organization may view Rask in a new light this season, the 25-year-old goaltender said he’s going to stay focused on his own game this season – just like he has since being acquired by Boston prior to the 2006-07 season.
"It’s the same every year, right? You don’t want to think about it too much, [whether] there’s somebody ahead of you in the rankings or not, so I’m really doing it the same way," Rask said of his approach. "I just want to improve my game every day and…show up into camp as a really good goalie and in really good shape and that’s pretty much all you can do.
"You know, I think when you do that, everything kind of takes care of itself and then you move on and hopefully have a good year."