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Behind the Rask: Champions at last!

by Tuukka Rask /
Behind the Rask will provide daily updates on Boston's experiences throughout the Stanley Cup Final as seen through the eyes of the 24-year-old Finnish goalie.


Stanley Cup champion! That has a pretty good ring to it. Don't mind it at all.

To be here with your friends and family and your teammates and win a game 4-0 -- it's an amazing feeling. It's not like any feeling you have ever had. I can't even explain it. My girlfriend was here, she came out with all the families on a plane today and it is nice to be able to share this.

I don't even know what I am going to remember most from this whole experience. It is tough to answer that right now. There's a lot of things. There were so many great teammates. The comebacks in series, the three Game 7s. There are a lot of good memories.

To do this with Mark Recchi was special too. His third Cup. It tells a lot about that guy. He just finds a way to win.

Being a Stanley Cup champion is so much better than you can even dream. We don't even realize it yet. It's just so unbelievable now, but it is such a great feeling.

I can't wait to spend the day with the Cup. I'm just going to take it to my hometown and spend some time with friends and family. I haven't planned it, but that's the idea. I'm sure we will have some fun.

Thanks to everybody for reading this during the Final. See you back in Boston.

Waiting is almost over
06.14.2011 / 9:36 PM ET

We changed things around a little bit upon arriving today by getting in a quick practice. We felt it was important to get the legs going after that long flight because we are not going to be able to skate in the morning. It's just to get out there, get a little sweat going and get your legs going. That's about it.

Timmy Thomas didn't skate so I got to take his end and I got those 'D' shots he usually takes at the end of practice. It was kind of a cool change for me, too. Those guys don't hold it back even though it is practice. But, the blue line is pretty far back still, so you have time to get out of the way if it comes at your head. It's an instinct. In the game situation, it is different and you probably try harder to stop it.

There was nothing unusual about the plane ride out here. You want to be focused, but you don't want to be over-focused. Obviously, we know what we have to do. We're one win away. But, it was like any other trip and that's a good thing.

It shouldn't be that long a wait now. We'll go have a meal, get some rest and sleep and then it is pretty much game time. You don't want to think about it too much.

I'm a pretty good sleeper in general. These games are not going bother me in my sleep, that's for sure.  Last year in Buffalo during the playoffs, we had a fire alarm going at our hotel even though there wasn't any fire. Those are the things you can't sleep through, but that is a different topic.

Nathan Horton made the flight with us and it was really good to see him and see him being himself. I guess he is feeling OK and that is a great thing to see. We love having him around. He's a really positive guy. He was joking around a lot – just typical Nathan Horton.

Even though I'm not starting, this is the biggest game of my life. I think for most of us it is. You don't have these opportunities too often and some guys don't ever get to experience this. It's definitely once in a lifetime for most of us.

It's a good thing to think about where we are and what could happen tomorrow night if we win. It's human nature to do that, but you don't want to spend your energy thinking about it. You have to do the job on the ice and see what happens. It's definitely impossible not to think about it, though.

One to go

06.14.2011 / 1:22 AM ET

Now, we are to a Game 7 and that's great. Everybody dreams of a Game 7 as a kid and now we just have to enjoy the next two days, leave it all out there in Game 7 and see what happens.

It was a good start for us tonight. We had a really good start and had some scoring chances and capitalized on almost every one of those and never really looked back.

They definitely had some chances early because we didn't start the game right away the way we planned, but we had some good goaltending from Timmy and that helped us and then Brad Marchand scored and that changed everything.

Brad is that kind of guy that doesn't look at the game situation or anything like that; he just goes out there and plays hard every day. I know he is annoying guy to play against because I have played against him, but he is a great teammate to have out there because he lays it all out there and that is what he did today.

Today, our fourth-line guys got some extended action because of the score and that was great because those guys have done a great job throughout the playoffs for us. I think they are an underrated line and they get some scoring chances, too.

David Krejci scored tonight and that was great to see. He gets a lot of respect in Boston, but he maybe doesn't have that status in the national media. He's really skilled, but he doesn't mind getting his nose dirty. He'll go to dirty areas and get ahead of the play.

Tomorrow, it'll be a long flight, but we are glad we are making it. We won't be too happy going there because we haven't won anything yet. Hopefully, it is a happy flight coming back on Thursday.

The forgotten heroes
06.13.2011 / 11:47 AM ET

You know, I really want to talk about the trainers and equipment guys we have on this team. They have been so important in this whole playoff run.

These are the guys that nobody really realizes what they are doing -- especially with the travel schedule we have, flying all over the map. They have to unload the gear and do that thing all over again virtually every other night. They have done such a great job for us and I want to give them credit for that.

This series, when you travel so much, they pretty much don't get to sleep. That's not easy, but they have done such a great job.

We played in Montreal the first series and then we went to Lake Placid, N.Y., for the two days off between Game 3 and Game 4 and they had to load the gear and drive down to Lake Placid and get us all set in that rink.

Then we played in Tampa and it was almost 100 degrees outside and they had to make sure all the gear was dry all the time and there were no complaints. I think they have done a great job.

We don't take those guys for granted. We give those guys credit because it could be easily taken for granted. At least with our team, we try to take care of those guys and remember how much of a good job they do all the time. You get so used to not carrying your own bags and not doing anything like that, but you have to remember that somebody is doing it and give credit to those guys.

It started at the beginning of the season when we went to Europe, Northern Ireland and the Czech Republic. When I came back to Boston in August to start the season, they were pretty much already all packed for that trip. It was pretty tight to get all that stuff in the plane so we could take off. They had to count everything by the pound so we would be safe to take off. It's not easy getting the hockey gear to and from Europe. But the guys did and that was pretty amazing.

As far as last night for us as a team, it wasn't much different than any other night during the playoffs.

We have been in this situation of facing elimination before and we are just focused on tonight's game and doing our job properly. We won't leave any stone unturned tonight. We want to go out there and leave it all out there and if we do that I think we have a good chance of winning tonight.

Time to regroup
06.12.2011 / 5:53 PM ET

The Roberto Luongo comments have been all over the news today. I heard about it, but I didn't see what he said. People can say whatever they want because it is a free world for everybody. They can express their opinion on things. It's tough for me to comment on what he said. But, as I said, he can say whatever he wants and express his opinion.

As I've said before, Timmy doesn't give two cents about what people say about his game. He just does his thing and tries to be the best guy he can be and hopefully get the wins. It doesn't really matter what people say.

This whole series has been so interesting. This is the first Final I have ever been in my whole career. I've been down 3-2 in a series before, but not in a stage like this. It's new for me, but there is always a first time for everything.

I've learned so much. You know, it is a game of emotions and momentum changes really quick from side to side and you just have to have that ability to regroup after every shift and every game – no matter if you win or lose. It's not that I've learned that, but I've really noticed it in this playoff run. It's a huge thing the further you go in each series.

I'm sure it helps you to go through these things. You can kind of sit back and just watch things and how things develop and also how people prepare for different things. 

Tough to explain goal drought
06.11.2011 / 1:38 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- It was a tough loss tonight. The games are running down and we have a must-win at home and then, if we want to win the Cup, a must-win Game 7, too. The only thing that changes now is that we can't lose.

We recognize that we haven't played our best at times. We know if we play our best, we can win. That's the way it has been in the past and hopefully we can find the good things about this too and create something good for game 6 and hopefully win.

We have a lot of character in the room and guys that have been through a lot of things, so it's a good thing to have the old guys in the room to kind of guide us through adversity.

In this game, our power play wasn't working early on and we pretty much didn't get any chances. It takes away the momentum out of our game and we weren't at our best. That is something we have to change.

It's tough to explain why we can't score here. I don't think we have had too many good scoring chances on Luongo today and that has been the way it has been in the past here, too. We just have to find a way to score goals on the road if we want to win.

Now we have two days off and that is hard. Obviously, you want to play Game 6 right away, but obviously we have to go home and get our rest, practice and get ready for Game 6.

It's good to see Horton
06.09.2011 / 1:33 AM ET

BOSTON -- It was so good to see Nathan Horton after the game. It was good to see him doing well. I hadn't heard from since the hit from Aaron Rome in Game 3; so it was good to see him smiling and doing well.

We were so focused on the game, we didn't know anything about his visit after the game. It was good to see him. It was a lot of smiles in the dressing room. Everybody was so happy to see him and talk to him.

The crowd was amazing tonight as well. It is really celebrating when we are winning. It is a really loud crowd here and they got their money’s worth in these two games.

When they were chanting Nathan Horton's name, it was really good to hear.

The crowd had a lot to cheer about, too.

Tim Thomas was out there with a shutout and he's battling against Alex Burrows and everything else

But, that's what he does the best; he's a battler, you know? He's just trying to hold his ground. He's good at it. He never gets upset. He's a fighter, you know? It doesn't upset him. He just goes about his business.

I think we played a solid game tonight. We capitalized on our chances and we got a couple of bounces, too. It was just a solid 60-minute effort and an overall good game.

We try to play the same way every time. We don’t want to put up a show; we just try to grind it out and battle for 60 minutes with four lines. Today, it may have looked like a road game, but it was a heck of a game.

Now, it is back to Vancouver for Game 5. We'll leave tomorrow morning.

Obviously the fatigue factor comes into play when you are playing every other day and flying on the day in between. It doesn't get easier. But, like I said, we are professionals and we have to be prepared for that and be as ready as we can.

After a win, it is always a nicer flight, but we are not celebrating at all. It may just make the flight a little shorter.

Gotta fly now
06.05.2011 / 12:04 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- Obviously, we have a lot of travel in this League -- we don't play the West Coast teams that much, but we are still used to it.

It's not easy when you play on a tight schedule like this. We have to travel tomorrow, go home and get some rest and be ready for the next game. It's the same for both teams. It's not easy. It's something that they gave us and we just have to deal with it. We're leaving tomorrow.

Obviously, there are some tricks you learn when you do as much traveling as we do. You need to remember to get your rest properly and have some naps. As you chance time zones, you have to jump right into the zone you are getting in so you have to live that time the day before and help your body get used to that time.

Tonight, it's 11 p.m. in our time now. We just need to get our sleep tonight, leave tomorrow and go to bed early when we get back home.

Sometimes it is hard to get to sleep when you play in a game. It won't be for me because I didn't play, but there are guys that have that problem sometime. It's obviously harder when you play in the game. 

Tomorrow most of the guys on the plane will probably try to stay awake because you want to go to bed early tomorrow. We have some guys who like to sleep and some guys who don't. It's a mix.

Whenever we fly, I like to play cards to pass the time. We switch the games up a bit to keep it interesting.

Staying ready

06.03.2011 / 8:31 PM ET

VANCOUVER -- Being a full-time backup is different, for sure. It's really mentally challenging because you know you have to be ready if the time comes that you have to play. I try to go out there in practice and make it my game and really try to stop every puck and don't take any minutes off.

Our guys have been pretty good about giving me work. Our guys want to score and I chirp them a lot, so they really want to score more. That's been the case the whole year. It's a good battle out there, and that is what makes everybody better.

I can get on everybody's skin with my chirping. It changes up from time to time. Z's been a tough customer there. Sometimes, he really wants to blast that slap shot and it feels good when you save it and I'll give him a little chirp there.

But being the backup in this situation -- it's challenging; but it is also fun. I'm learning a lot and I think it might be good for me to be in this situation and see the other side of the coin and try to enjoy it.

You have to be ready and you have to do the mental exercises like you were in the game. You don't want to think about the worst thing that could happen, but you have to think about what if, what if. You have to be ready all the time. It's challenging, but it's part of the job, too.

It's hard to get any of the work in during the game. You are more of a spectator in those situations, watching the game. You are not as mentally focused as you are when you are playing. You Just try to follow the plays, see how they develop and maybe see the option that they have and read the game as they play it.

When I'm not playing, I don't do as much film work. Obviously, you see the highlights and you see those plays and as a goalie you go through it in your head and see what happens out there. 

I've never had a book on shooters. I don't think it would help me much. Obviously, you know certain guys' tendencies, but I don't want to go down that road and expect somebody to shoot high-glove and he beats me low-blocker and I look stupid. I'm more or less instinct.

Timmy (Thomas) and I will talk after every game about certain goals or certain saves, and we know if somebody is a passer and somebody is a shooter and talk about those things, but we don't break it down really hard and go through every single play.

Dealing with off days
06.02.2011 / 8:57 PM ET

VANCOUVER --Well, now we have two days off before Game 2, and that can be a little tough. Especially after the loss, you want to get back into the action as soon as possible. There's nothing you can do about the schedule, though. We have two days in Vancouver and we'll go through some things in our heads and figure some stuff out. We'll get our rest and get ready for Saturday.

We spend a lot of time on the road during the year, and I just like to hang out with the guys. We'll go to movies, just walk around downtown. We usually stay in pretty nice places and we'll go to the restaurants and maybe a movie now and then -- just trying to kill some time. Nothing crazy.

I actually haven't seen any movies yet during these playoffs, but my plan is to see "Hangover 2." That's coming up, maybe tomorrow.

Tonight, we probably will stay close by. It's a shocker -- it's raining in Vancouver. I'm just going to go eat with the guys and have a good time. We're just going to get our heads a little bit away from the loss and regain our focus.

Obviously, it's a little harder at this stage as things get crazier. It's a Canadian city, obviously, and we dealt with that in Montreal. It's the Final, too. You kind of expect all the excitement. The fans here love their team and love hockey, so we knew what to expect. You just have to be ready for that or it can be overwhelming.

The rink here is always really loud. I remember when I played back here in 2007 in World Juniors, it was almost the same way when we played against Canada. Yesterday, obviously, their fans were really loud and they got the band in the stands going and it was a great atmosphere

I think that house band thing was a great idea. Maybe we'll have to work on some matching thing when we get back to Boston. A couple of guys know the Dropkick Murphys pretty well and I know Kenny Casey too; so we might have to ask them.

There is always so much going on in the stands, too. Obviously, you see those two guys with the green suits and things like that. You can't ignore them, but your main focus is on the game, whether you are playing or not playing. You have to watch the ice and watch what is happening out there or you might get hit by a puck. You see what is going on in the stands, but I don't pay too much attention.

Now, we just have to focus on having a better Game 2.

I think we have been good throughout the year and throughout the playoffs at bouncing back from tough games and tough losses. We always bounce back. We have a lot of character guys in our group. Obviously, guys are upset with what happened, but you just have to realize that what is done is done and you just have to move on. You can't start thinking about past too much. You just have to live in the present in focus on that.

It's time to move on
06.02.2011 / 1:18 AM ET

VANCOUVER -- A loss like this is always tough for a goalie. I'm sure Tim is upset. You just have to realize you played a heck of a game and take all the good things and don't let one little thing get in your head too much. But, it is frustrating when you did everything you can to win a hockey game and you lose in the last minute.

It's tough, but you just have to focus on the next one.

That's one thing that Timmy is good at. He's a veteran guy. It's not the first time this has happened to him. Probably not at this stage, but you get those games every now and then. He knows how to handle that.

I talked to Timmy a little after the game. I just told him, "Good job." Like I said, it was frustrating for him a little bit.

Tonight was really a good effort from Timmy. He's been rock solid throughout the playoffs. Today, he definitely deserved to win.

As far as the rest of the team, it wasn't too bad after the game. Guys were upset, but that is the way it should be. We just told everybody to keep their heads up and focus on the next one and hopefully we can get off the road at .500

For me, it's hard after a game like this. I just have to stay positive and cheer the guys up. For the guys that don't play, that is pretty much all you can do – tell them that they did a good job and keep that positive attitude.
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