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Tuukka Rask picking up where he left off 10.07.13 at 1:35 pm ET
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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 said of Tuukka Rask. “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 and Adam McQuaid.

The Red Wings’ lone goal on Saturday was off a rebound, with Henrik Zetterberg 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, 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 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.”

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Takeaways from Bruins’ 3-2 win over Capitals: Power play strong again; Ryan Spooner impresses 09.23.13 at 9:55 pm ET
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Chris Kelly scored in overtime to give the Bruins a 3-2 win over the Capitals in their final home game of the preseason Monday night at TD Garden.

They’ll finish out the preseason later this week with a pair of games against the Jets before opening up the regular season at home next Thursday against the Lightning.

The Bruins iced the following lineup:

Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Soderberg – Kelly – Smith
Caron – Spooner – Johnson
Paille – Lindblad – Thornton

Chara – Boychuk
Bartkowski – McQuaid
Seidenber – Miller

Here are some takeaways from the game:

– The Bruins got a power-play goal with who else but Zdeno Chara in front. Chara tipped a Dennis Seidenberg shot from from the point past Braden Holtby in the second period to tie the game at one. This is the power play the Bruins used and had been working on in practice earlier in the day:

Krejci – Seidenberg
Iginla – Lucic
Chara

The B’s also got a 5-on-3 goal from Chara at the point with Seidenberg, while Jarome Iginla was up front with David Krejci and Milan Lucic on the wings.

– There were quite a few fights, with Kevan Miller squaring off with Aaron Colpatti, Lucic and Johnny Boychuk dropping the gloves with Joel Rechlicz in separate fights. Additionally, Adam McQuaid and Dane Byers fought at the same time as Nick Johnson and Michal Cajkovsky in the third period.

Players can and do work on their technique in practice without having to land punches, so there isn’t much of a point in risking injury (or suspension if things get out of hand like they did in Toronto on Sunday night) during the preseason. Lots of fights = lots of unnecessary risk.

Ryan Spooner was one of the best players on the ice for the B’s as he continues to try to force the team to make a tough decision. The team isn’t interested in making him a wing, and they probably shouldn’t be given that Reilly Smith has had a strong camp, but Spooner could at the very least push to be the team’s extra forward. At the very least, Spooner is outperforming Jordan Caron, who entered camp as a favorite to earn the 13th forward spot.

– Smith looked good in the first period and was kind of underwhelming the rest of the way. He came out flying on his first shift and made a fool out of Connor Carrick in the offensive zone as he cycled the puck to himself, and in general the former Star seems to be everything that Caron is supposed to be. He’s good in his own end and tough to out-muscle, which is strange because he’s two inches shorter and more than 35 pounds lighter than Caron. Either way, Smith plays bigger than his body and is making a good case to keep that third-line right wing job. Smith was on the ice for both of Washington’s goals, however, with the first goal coming on Smith’s first PK shift of the night.

– The Bruins allowed just seven shots on goal through the first 53-plus minutes of the game, but two of them went past Tuukka Rask. The Caps could have scored on what would have been their eighth shot following a Krejci turnover in the third period, but Miller was able to break up the 2-on-1 bid before the Caps could get a shot on goal. The B’s outshot the Capitals, 37-12, in regulation.

– Speaking of Krejci and turnovers, he made some in the offensive zone in what certainly wasn’t his prettiest game. He’s also gotten rather drop-pass happy.

Read More: Chris Kelly, David Krejci, Jordan Caron, Reilly Smith
Tuukka Rask has ‘no doubt’ Tim Thomas will be successful with Panthers 09.18.13 at 5:53 pm ET
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With the Panthers brining in Tim Thomas to give 23-year-old Jacob Markstrom a seasoned veteran from whom to learn, Tuukka Rask knows from experience that it could be a very good idea.

Thomas and Rask played three seasons together, with Thomas starting most of the games before taking last season off and opening the door for Rask to step in as the No. 1 goalie — a position he held late in the 2009-10 season before Thomas put up a Vezina season and took the B’s to a Stanley Cup championship a year later.

“He’s a great worker; he works hard every day, so I think that’s the part where younger goalies should take from him,” Rask said of Thomas. “Markstrom’s been around for a couple years, but I think he probably still wants to learn something new out of a veteran goalie, and Timmy is a good example of that. He works hard every day and makes you work harder every day. That’s what I got out of it and I think that’s what every goalie with Timmy will get out of it.”

Thomas is on a professional tryout with the Panthers, so he is not on their roster. If they like what they see and give him a deal, the Bruins could see Thomas back in town on Nov. 7.

“That’d be a media debacle going on if that happened,” Rask said. “I was happy to see him come back. I wasn’t going to be surprised if this happened, and it did. I’m hoping that he’s going to make the team and get a good contract and get a good year out of it.”

Given that he is 39 and didn’t play last season, there is certainly question as to whether Thomas can be anything close to the guy who turned in a record-setting 2010-11 season and followed with a strong 2011-12 season, his most recent. Yet if anyone can do it, Rask believes his former teammate can.

“Absolutely,” Rask said. “I don’t know too many goalies at this level who have done that to compare, but definitely if he wants to be good, he will be good. There’s no doubt about that. I don’t think it’s too big of an issue to take a year off and come back. I’m sure he kept himself sharp somehow and maybe saw some pucks. It’s not going to be that big of a deal to come back, but he’s definitely the guy to make it happen if somebody will.”

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Now proven and rich, Tuukka Rask enters next stage of career 08.12.13 at 9:45 pm ET
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MIDDLETON – Tuukka Rask is used to entering the season with a lot of questions surrounding him. Now, the biggest one is how he’s going to spend all that money of his.

“I haven’t seen a penny yet,” Rask said with a grin Monday at Shawn Thornton’s Putts and Punches for Parkinson’s golf tournament.

The Bruins’ netminder had to wait quite a while to prove that he could not only be a starting goalie, but take a team deep into the playoffs. Prior to last season, the last season he entered with the starting job lasted just a day before Tim Thomas retook the reins.

He also had questions about how his body could hold up for a full season and, of course, the uncertainty with his contract. One healthy Conn Smythe-worthy performance and a gargantuan eight-year, $56 million contract later, Rask doesn’t have to worry about anything but consistency.

“I guess you’re always trying to work yourself up and trying to get yourself some kind of status in peoples’ eyes, but every season you start from scratch and kind of have to prove yourself again at some level. Obviously it helps that you have a long contract and you can focus on your job and not worry about contracts after every year.

“Still, every year is different. You have to be worth your money, no matter how much you make.”

The biggest question surrounding Rask at this point is who his backup will be. With Anton Khudobin leaving in free agency for Carolina, either Niklas Svedberg or Chad Johnson will serve as Rask’s backup.

“I’m sure whoever it will be, it will be a good situation for us,” Rask said.

Rask was sensational in the postseason, most notably allowing just two goals to the offensively loaded Penguins in a four-game Eastern Conference sweep. What came next wasn’t as fun for the B’s as they lost the Stanley Cup finals by allowing two goals in 17 seconds in Game 6 to relinquish the lead in the game and give Chicago the Cup. Rask admitted Monday that those 17 seconds still cross his mind.

“The first weeks [of the offseason] you try not to think hockey at all, but I still find myself thinking about it and how much it sucks, but everybody knows what the situation was with our guys being hurt and stuff,” he said. “We definitely left everything out there. There’s no regrets, no feelings that we should have done anything differently. I think that helps the healing process.”

Rask said he expects to get back on the ice in the “next week or two,” but that he has spent his offseason between the US and Finland lifting, playing tennis and, of course, golfing.

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Tuukka Rask gets eight years, $56 million from Bruins 07.10.13 at 5:28 pm ET
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The Bruins announced Wednesday that they have signed goaltender Tuukka Rask to an eight-year, $56 million contract.

Though not the richest contract for a goalie in NHL history because there is now an eight-year limit on contract terms, Rask’s $7 million cap hit ties him with Nashville’s Pekka Rinne for the highest-paid goalie in the league.

Rask played on a one-year, $3.5 million deal last season, his first as a full-time starter for the B’s. He led the B’s to within two wins of a Stanley Cup victory as he led all postseason goalies with a .940 save percentage.

Rask’s new contract makes him the team’s highest-paid player, just ahead of Zdeno Chara, who makes $6.91 million a season.

In 36 regular-season games in 2013, Rask posted a 19-10-5 record with a GAA of 2.00 and a .929 save percentage with five shutouts. The B’€™s netminder finished the season tied for fourth in the NHL in wins (19), tied for first in shutouts (five), third in save percentage (.929) and tied for fourth in goals against (1.96).

During the 2013 postseason, Rask led the NHL in save percentage (.940), tied for first in shutouts (three) and finished fourth in GAA (1.88) in 22 games. Rask set a club record for home playoff shutout streak at 193:16, spanning from Game 4 of the conference finals to Game 3 of the Cup finals.

In Tim Thomas‘ final season with the Bruins (2011-12), Rask appeared in 23 games, recording an 11-8-3 record with a 2.05 GAA and a save percentage of .929. In 2009-10, Rask set a career high in wins (22) and led the NHL with a 1.97 GAA and .931 save percentage, becoming the first Bruins goaltender to have a GAA below 2.00 since 1998-99. His 1.97 GAA that season, was the lowest by any Bruins goaltender since 1938-39 season.

In 138 NHL games, all of which have come with the Bruins, Rask has compiled a 66-45-16 record with 16 shutouts, a .927 save percentage and a 2.15 goals against average. The 26-year-old has appeared in 35 postseason games for the Bruins, amassing a 21-14 record, while posting a 2.15 GAA and a .930 save percentage with three shutouts.

Prior to joining Boston, Rask spent the majority of two seasons with the Providence Bruins (AHL) from 2007-09, amassing a record of 60-33-6 with a 2.42 GAA and .910 save percentage. In his rookie season with Providence in 2007-08, Rask finished the season tied for fifth in wins (27) and the following year was tied for second (33).

The 6-foot-3, 185-pound native of Tampere, Finland, was selected in the first round (21st overall) of the 2005 NHL draft by the Maple Leafs. The Bruins acquired Rask from the Maple Leafs in exchange for Andrew Raycroft on June 24, 2006.

Mike Petraglia contributed to this report.

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Don Cherry on D&C: Tyler Seguin ‘one step away from being a superstar’ 07.08.13 at 10:55 am ET
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Hockey Night in Canada legend Don Cherry joined Dennis & Callahan on Monday morning to talk about the Bruins’ trade of Tyler Seguin to the Stars.

Cherry remains high on Seguin, despite the Bruins losing patience with him.

“Something must have happened there to get rid of a kid like that,” Cherry said after reviewing Seguin’s statistics. “I’m sure he’s going to go to Dallas, he’s going to play center, and look out — I’m telling you, this kid is one step away from being a superstar. You’ll see next year. But hey, he got in the bad book somehow.

“You have to watch. The Bruins have a real image of being tough — tough to play against. Nineteen Canadians on the club, and every one of them are rough guys. ‘€¦ So, they have to watch that they don’t lose that little grit. Because most teams are afraid to go in and play Boston.”

As for reports that Seguin was too immature off the ice, Cherry said he can understand how a 21-year-old would want to spend some time out on the town.

“Look, I don’t know what happened. But I’m just saying I know I’d go out, if I was 21 years old after a game I would go to a bar, too,” Cherry said, questioning why the off-ice issues became public.

Added Cherry: “If a guy can get me 30 goals on right wing, and he’s a natural center, and he’s a little problem off the ice, I wouldn’t mind that. I’d try to settle that out a little. ‘€¦ Listen, the Bruins were in the finals. They did pretty good, so [Peter] Chiarelli must be doing something right. But you’re asking me my opinion, I would have never given up on a [21]-year-old kid that got 30 goals the year before playing in his wrong position.”

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Read More: Don Cherry, Loui Eriksson, Patrice Bergeron, Peter Chiarelli
Tuukka Rask expected to sign new contract soon 07.03.13 at 10:43 am ET
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Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Wednesday in a pre-free agency conference call that he is “confident” that the team will have a signed with Tuukka Rask “in short order,” and when asked whether it would be before or after free agency opens, Chiarelli replied, “I would think before.”

The GM said that he has a “placeholder number that he can work around” cap-wise if Rask isn’t signed when free agency opens, as Rask will likely take up the majority of the team’s available cap space. He could very likely sign a deal that makes him the highest-paid goaltender in the league (Pekka Rinne makes $7 million a year). Rask is a restricted free agent, so the only risk the Bruins run if they don’t sign him by Friday is that another club would sign him to an offer sheet, which the B’s would then have to match or lose the player in exchange for draft picks.

As far as the rest of free agency goes, Chiarelli said the Bruins’ priority is to rebuild the right side of their offense after losing their top two right wingers in Nathan Horton and Jaromir Jagr. Chiarelli told Jagr after the season that the Bruins would not be re-signing him, but he admitted Wednesday that they’ve thought of “circling back” to the 41-year-old since Horton told them he would not be returning. The right wing position will be addressed either in free agency or via trade, as the GM said there are “a couple” of trades the team is looking at.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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