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Bruins need Rask to continue being their hot hand

by Matt Kalman

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- The Boston Bruins have had the luxury of a hot hand in net through two rounds of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Keeping goaltender Tuukka Rask ready to go with so much time off before the start of the Eastern Conference Final against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday can be a bit of a challenge. But the Finnish phenom is adjusting to the week's rest so far.

"It's more, it's kind of weird, because [sometimes] you finish up a series and you think you're going to have three days off and you don't. You're still emotional and ready to play," Rask said after Bruins practice at Ristuccia Arena on Thursday. "But then you get three days off, four days off, you kind of just feel like it's training camp, we're just practicing here. But it obviously isn't.

"I think it's just a mental challenge to know how to relax, but still keep yourself focused and knowing the series will start soon and you have to be ready to go. It's definitely been a different week."

Rask said most of his relaxing is done in front of the television. His approach to goaltending and how to fill down time has worked to perfection so far in the postseason. In 12 games, Rask has a 2.22 goals-against average and a .928 save percentage. Those numbers dropped because in the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the New York Rangers he produced a 1.86 GAA and .936 save percentage.

This is Rask's first venture into the third round of the playoffs as a starter. The Bruins expect they'll continue to get the same type of performances from Rask against the Penguins.

"Tuukka's been our most consistent player all year long," center Chris Kelly said. "Right from Day One right through the playoffs. He's been there to make the big saves when we've needed him to, and obviously we wouldn't be here if not for the play of [Tuukka]."

Wing Brad Marchand said, "He's stepping up huge right now and he's excited for every new challenge that's thrown at him. You saw the last couple series, he's been outstanding and come up big at the right times. And you know this is the biggest one of all. Pittsburgh is a lot of guys that can do some damage over there. And if we're even going to have an opportunity to win, we're going to need him to be big. And he's definitely excited about it."

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