Bad Timing

Less  than 24 hours after allowing 3 goals on 10 shots and getting pulled in Wednesday’s brutal loss to the lowly Buffalo Sabres (and in the midst of some more Tim Thomas controversy), Tuukka Rask felt the need to express to Finnish sports magazine Urheilu Lehti how he really felt about his standing as a backup:

The truth is I want to play more. I don’t want spend my entire career on the bench. It feels like no matter how well I play, I’m on the bench in the next game. Even if I get a shutout it’s not enough.

Uh oh.
In all honesty, it should come as no surprise to anybody that Rask feels this way. He’s a young, extremely competitive and extremely driven athlete. He has always been frank with the media about his desire for more starts, especially given the fact that he was once the Bruins’ starting goaltender. Though Tim Thomas won his job back fairly, and retained his job rightfully, it had to have been a difficult experience for Rask to lose the starting position that way. Additionally, while it is assumed that Claude Julien’s MO is to ride the hot hand in net, Tuukka Rask has not been given consecutive starts since late in December, when he was given the start in two straight games against Florida (a shutout win) and Phoenix (a 2-1 OT win).

The fact of the matter is that no matter how well he plays he is, for all intents and purposes, still Boston’s back up goaltender for the time being and Thomas doesn’t have to earn his starts anymore (2 Vezinas, a Stanley cup and a Conn Smythe trophy will do that). However, Claude Julien has made a concerted effort to give Rask more starts; last season Tuukka Rask was given 20 starts in 82 games. This season he already has 20 starts in 52 games. For the last few months Claude has been alternating starts between Rask and Thomas, while giving Thomas the occasional back to back starts once or twice a month. I think it’s pretty obvious that the Bruins are doing their best to slowly ease Rask back into the role as starter.

This article was pretty much completely ignored by Boston sports media (Boston Globe, Comcast Sports Net) but was pounced on by fans and amateur bloggers with all kinds of theories. Tuukka’s been interviewed on 98.5 the Sports Hub earlier this season and said that while he desired more starts, he was willing to be patient. I don’t think any of what he’s said is a clear indicator of any sort of schism between the organization and Rask. Peter Chiarelli has explicitly stated that Tuukka is not on the market. Tuukka has expressed interest in resigning long-term, for the right price. I have faith that everything will be worked out.

Finally, there’s a really good chance this interview was held earlier in the season when the team was still having better success and before all the Tim Thomas drama started. That’s my theory anyways. I think we all need to take a deep breath and relax. The trade deadline is coming. That’s when the real craziness starts.

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