Raskbench

Surprise: Boston’s media is overstating Tuukka Rask’s complaint

But the team needs to evaluate and decide whether Rask is their future in net

Being buried on the bench in Boston leads to an abundance of exposure when a player mentions that he’d rather play more. So shouldn’t surprise anyone that Tuuka Rask’s comments to a Finnish newspaper that he’d prefer playing regularly prompted a rash of commentary in the Boston media.

Globe scribe Kevin Paul Dupont appeared on New England’s Comcast Sports Net to say he doubted Rask was a number one goalie. Though CSNNE’s Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty notes, it’s not like Rask said anything remotely controversial. What athlete doesn’t want in when the game starts, when it ends, when it’s on the line? They all do. While what he said is obvious, that he said it to the media is unhelpful.

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Our friends over at Days of Y’Orr took a pair of looks at the budding controversy and saw it mainly catnip for the media types. But beyond that obvious acknowledgement, with Rask a pending restricted free agent, the Bruins need to consider who they want between the pipes going forward. Below the fold, we’ll try to tackle that question.

I alluded to this point in my post-All Star Break Bruins write up. So let’s quote it and address it:

While Thomas is the guy, how long he will be the guy remains to be seen. Boston would be well served to give Rask a few week’s to be the team’s primary net minder, ostensibly to keep Thomas fresh, but to sort out what they have in Rask and if they can afford to part company with Thomas when his contract is up.

Rask is an easy guy to retain. He’s had a solid season. He’s been the guy before, specifically in the 2009-10 season when Thomas was hurt for part of the season and Rask posted a 1.97 GAA in 45 games. The sheen began to fade on Rask in that fateful Flyers series when the 3-0 lead he helped them build collapsed in historic fashion. Thomas got hot the following season and that streak continued through the Cup and Rask sat.

The Bruins recognize that Rask is a keeper (Ed. — That’s a lousy pun). Thomas is 37. Their goalie prospects are projects or far enough away that they should be. With a roster full of quality palyers and some young intriguing talent on the horizon for skaters, Rask is perfectly positioned to be the team’s goalie when Thomas hangs them up.

As Thomas will be an unrestricted free agent following the 2012-13 season, the Bruins have cause to figure out what they have in Rask. Thomas might be effective at 39. (Ed. —  Martin Brodeur says hello.) But their ability to play deep into the playoffs always comes with the queasiness of “Is this the day he loses it for good?” every time a soft goal squeaks by.

While Rask is likely relegated to a Thomas dominated timeshare for now, he is the Bruins future in net. While counseling patience to athletes is a fruitless task, it’s the best advice one can offer Rask. In the unlikely event that Thomas’ well-noted outspokenness shortens his time in Boston, his wait may be over as soon as next season.

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