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Rask says he'll be ready for Bruins training camp

Goalie feels 'normal' following three-month rehabilitation from groin surgery

by Matt Kalman / Correspondent

MIDDLETON, Mass. -- Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said Monday he'll be ready for training camp after having groin surgery May 9.

"I'm 100 percent [certain]," Rask said before teeing off at the seventh annual Putts and Punches Golf Tournament to benefit the Shawn Thornton Foundation at Ferncroft Country Club.

Rask, 30, said the rehabilitation process was relatively easy and that he feels "normal" three months after the surgery. He wanted to return to the ice this week, but it was removed from the Bruins practice rink, so he's aiming to skate next week.

"It's pretty standard, standard procedure and rehab," he said. "I think I [did it] the first three, four weeks here and then after that you're more kind of free to do your normal workouts, so I went back home and now I'm here and I'll start skating here. Not a whole lot different from my usual routine.

"It's like anything. If something's like bugging you all the time, it gets in your head and you're kind of cautious about it, so it's good to hopefully get back on the ice and don't feel anything anywhere."

Rask injured his groin early last season and was scratched for three straight games Oct. 22-26. Except for missing a March 25 game because of a back injury, Rask made it through the season and went 37-20-5 with a 2.23 goals-against average and .915 save percentage in 65 games (64 starts) to help the Bruins into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in three seasons. He had a 2.24 GAA and .920 save percentage in Boston's six-game loss to the Ottawa Senators in the Eastern Conference First Round.

Rask and Bruins trainers worked hard maintaining and managing the injury after the season ended. After the surgery, he's confident he'll improve his performance this season.

"I think that's what everybody's goal is," Rask said. "That's the only difference. If you feel 100 percent healthy and you feel like you can do everything you want to do, I think that's a goal for me and everybody else."

The Bruins know that a fresher Rask will be healthier and should perform better over a full season. To that end, they haven't made any changes to their goaltending depth chart. Anton Khudobin is expected to return as Rask's backup, with prospects Malcolm Subban and Zane McIntyre possibly challenging for that role.

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Khudobin was 7-6-1 with a 2.64 GAA and .904 save percentage last season. However, he didn't earn his first win until Dec. 1 and then didn't win again until Feb. 11, when he started a personal six-game winning streak. The Bruins are counting on Khudobin playing this season the way he did late last season, and Rask thinks that could happen.

"I think we have a great situation going," Rask said. "[Khudobin] showed that when he got going towards the end of the year he played some very good games and won some big games for us. I think he's deserved a spot and ... many years we've been talking about the same thing and it's tough when you're kind of like the backup goalie and you don't have the full confidence from your coach and you just get thrown in there every once in a while, you don't get in a rhythm. So it's very difficult and I've been there, I know what it is.

"For me, playing less games would also benefit the other guy because then he would get in a rhythm and that would benefit our team. Because if anything happens to anybody you've got to have three or four good goalies that can play. We've seen that before too."

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