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Tuukka Rask picking up where he left off

WILMINGTON — Two U’s, two K’s, two games, two goals against. The Bruins will take that.

As the top six forwards get used to one another, young defensemen get comfortable with more responsibility and the new power play takes shape, the B’s have seen one area of their roster remain its reliable self: goaltending.

“Tuukka’s been Tuukka. That means he’s just been solid,” Claude Julien [1] said of Tuukka Rask [2]. “He’s played well, made the big saves when we need him. That first game, I thought he did a good job of holding us in there when we didn’t have a good start. Last game I thought we had a much better overall game, but against that type of team you need good goaltending, and he gave us that.”

The $56 million man has made 59 saves through two games for the B’s, with his best work coming in Thursday’s season-opener against the Lightning. With the Bruins killing off one of two 5-on-3s on the night, Rask stopped Steven Stamkos from the right circle and seconds later robbed Teddy Purcell to end the first period. The only goal he allowed in that game was on a 2-on-1 that came as a result of a bad Torey Krug pinch and uncharacteristic work from Daniel Paille [3] and Adam McQuaid.

The Red Wings’ lone goal on Saturday was off a rebound, with Henrik Zetterberg [4] making good on a second chance off a Justin Abdelkader shot. It’s been a limited sample size, but Rask has been a cool customer so far.

“The first one, we killed those 5-on-3s and I think [the Lightning] had more chances than Detroit did, but I think as a team, we got better from the first game,” Rask said of the team allowing one goal in each of the first two games. “The last game against Detroit is a really good example of how we need to play.”

Oftentimes, a goaltender can only be as good as the guys that play in front of him, and the Bruins’ combination of elite goaltending and stingy defense has been mutually beneficial for years. That took something of a hit when the B’s elected not to retain Andrew Ference [5], but Rask said the younger blue line seems to be getting better by the day as Torey Krug and Dougie Hamilton get more comfortable.

“Absolutely. Every day,” Rask said. “They work hard out there, and they try to get more physical out there. I think it’s just something that comes from experience, and you’ve got to play the amount of games to feel fully comfortable, but I think the young Ds who have needed to step up for us have been really good.”

Given the schedule, Rask shouldn’t count on sitting out anytime soon. The first few weeks of Boston’s schedule breathes quite a bit, with the first back-to-back not coming until Oct. 23 (at Buffalo) and 24 (home against the Sharks). As such, expect the B’s to go to Rask often before Chad Johnson [6] eventually sees game action.

“Tuukka only played a few games in the preseason, so it’s an opportunity for him to get some rhythm going, but at the same time, you’re going to want to use your other goaltender,” Julien said. “We’ve just got to keep him sharp in practice and work that part of the equation in as we see fit.”