Inside the playoff mind of Tuukka Rask: ‘You try to stay cool and not let the nerves get you’
|05.09.13 at 7:18 pm ET|
When Tuukka Rask stuck out his glove and saved Game 4 by robbing Joffrey Lupul midway through overtime Wednesday night, he showed almost no reaction.
As he told everyone Thursday, that’s just who he is – a focused goalie making save after save with little or no emotion when it’s playoff time.
‘I don’t know, nothing,” Rask said when asked what his emotions were in overtime. “You just try to stay focused on that that next shot I think. That’s about it. I’ve told you before, I don’t know how to talk about my feelings here.’
Is it enjoyable for him?
‘I don’t think it’s fun,” he said. “Really, you try to stay cool and not let the nerves get you. You just try to stay cool and relaxed and do the things you normally do in practice and games and not get shaky.
“I think it’s human that you get a little nervous and try to battle through it and tell yourself to stay calm and stop the puck. But I think it’s both.’
Rask says he’s not motivated by getting snubbed for the Vezina Trophy by NHL general managers.
‘I don’t know,” Rask said when asked if he felt snubbed. “People might say that. It doesn’t really matter to me. We made the playoffs, we’re battling for the Stanley Cup now. I think that’s our goal. These individual trophies come if they come and you can’t really do anything about it.
‘I think we just have to play our game as we have in the past few games here and not be thinking about closing the series more than playing our game as good as we can, and I think the results will come.’
Does Rask work at being cool under pressure, or does it come naturally?
‘I think it’s both,” Rask said. ‘You know the other team is going to throw everything at you because it’s do-or-die for them. So, you kind of have to take the same mentality. If you slip even a little bit, you give the other team life then they’re going to take advantage of that. I think that’s the challenge we’re facing, too. We have to approach the game like it’s a do-or-die game for us.’
Battling the Maple Leafs has been a lot of work for Rask so far. He’s faced 157 shots in four games, allowing 10 goals. He has a .932 save percentage, right at his regular season average.
‘A lot of work,” Rask said of his performance so far. “As we talked before the series, they’re a good offensive team. They’ve showed it. They are a great team. They work really hard. They get a lot of shots, lot of scoring chances. Every game is different with momentum shifts throughout each game and you just try to keep the momentum as long as you can.
‘It’s like night and day [from last season]. They never give up. They battle really hard, play for each other. They made the playoffs well-deserved and they played us really hard, too.’