Bruins

Rask expresses unhappiness over lack of playing time

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Rask expresses unhappiness over lack of playing time

In probably the worst case of timing the Bruins goaltending tandem have exhibited all season, Tuukka Rask voiced discontent with his playing time to a Finnish news outlet during a recent interview.

That it cropped up while goalie partner Tim Thomas is causing an uproar with his politics-filled Facebook account just makes it that much more troublesome.

Rask recently told the Finnish magazine, Urheilu Lehti, what anybody with a competitive bone in their body must have assumed were his private thoughts as a backup goaltender.

Rask clearly wants to play more.

While Rask and Thomas have been closer to even in their playing time this season, the Finnish understudy doesnt seem to dig being an apprentice much longer. Granted all caveats have to be made for imperfect translations and the Finnish media weighing in on the topic from an outside position, but the Rask quotes tell the story.

"The truth is that I want to play more. I do not want to spend a whole career sitting on the bench," Rask said to the Finnish sports media through the power of Google translator. "It is felt that even when I have a good game, the next game is on the bench. If I play and have a shutout, it is not enough.

Claude Julien answered some very vanilla Rask questions following Friday mornings practice at TD Garden, and it appeared Tim Thomas may be getting the start Saturday afternoon against the Nashville Predators.

Everybody knows Rask is getting impatient while waiting it out for his turn as the No. 1 goaltender to arrive. Its all the more patience-trying when a fellow countryman like Pekka Rinne arrives in town with a weighty new contract and superstar NHL status in tow.
Those are things that Rask clearly aspires to as well as a product of the goaltending factory known as Finland.

But Julien said Rask has done a good job this season maturing into his role, and demanding more like playing time while riding a four-game losing streak normally isnt the safest road to go down. Rask is 0-2 with a 4.54 goals against average and .854 save percentage in two games during the month of February, and was yanked early in the monumental defeat in Buffalo.

With that in mind, Rask was out on the ice before and following practice Friday morning while working to get that comfortable feeling back between the pipes.

Getting pulled out the other night he knew right then and there that he wasnt comfortable and he wasnt good enough. There were no issues at all, said Claude Julien. Its just the way it goes. Its a long year. Sometimes he feels like things are off and today he went out there early to work on his game. Hes a really good athlete when it comes to honestly analyzing his game: when he feels good and comfortable he knows it and when hes not he senses it.

He didnt feel comfortable the other night and I think he told Timmy sorry for putting you in this spot. Thats the kind of player he is. Thats Tuukka in a nutshell.

Hes also been consistent with the Boston media that he loves the city of Boston, and any discontent is borne out of being a natural competitor.

Rasks time will come and he seems to know it no matter what a Finnish newspaper has quoted him as saying. But hes also clearly still the backup.

Thomas has made 35 appearances this season to Rasks 20 games despite the 24-year-old Finn sporting the same save percentage and a better goals against average.

Hes more mature and hes had a good year. His last few games he hasnt been on top of his game, but he knows that. I dont even have to tell him. He knows it, said Julien. As a coach you know hes working on certain things and he wants the extra time. Hes playing more at this time this year than he did last year, but he wants to work hard to stay sharp.

As a group we still have a lot of confidence in this guy. As you saw earlier in the year hes got as good a numbers as Tim does.

Time will tell how things play out between Rask and Thomas, but a playing time gripe to a Finnish news outlet is certainly not what the Bruins needed with the current state of their goaltenders.

Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

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Schaller's sterling play helping to ease Bruins' pain

BRIGHTON -- Injuries, and some really tough losses, have put a bit of a damper on the start to the Bruins season. But there've also been a couple of unquestioned bright spots.

And one of them is Tim Schaller, who's been a strong, consistent performer in the first couple of weeks of the season. The New Hampshire native -- and lifelong Bruins fan -- was penciled in as a fourth-line winger throughout most of training camp, but he’s played everywhere as injuries have ravaged the B's roster.

The high point was probably centering Jake DeBrusk and David Pastrnak (and notching an assist) in Saturday’s overtime loss to the Sabres, and filling in for a late-scratched David Krejci with a very different set of skills. Certainly he’s been a standout for the Bruins with his physicality, including stepping up and fighting man mountain Erik Gudbranson after Gudbranson's nasty boarding hit on Frank Vatrano last week, and he’s also kicked in a couple of goals and three points in seven games thus far this season.

“It’s a reactionary thing, and that’s just in a person,” said Bruce Cassidy of fighting Gudbranson. “It’s a character thing because you don’t have a lot of time to think about it. Good for Timmy. That earns a lot of street cred not only in your own locker room, but the other teams notice it. too.

"We know with the goals that he can obviously chip in [offensively] and he’s doing a great job for what we’re asking him to do. He’s probably going to take ownership if he’s out there with some young guys on a line, and if he can be a leader and get that line playing the right way every night that is very valuable to us.”

Schaller’s game to this point is a continuation of what he showed in his first season with the Bruins last year, when the 26-year-old posted 7 goals and 14 points in 59 games while becoming a staple in Boston’s bottom-6 group. He’s once again shown pretty good straight-ahead speed for a big man, and a willingness to take his 6-foot-2, 219-pound frame straight to the net.

“I’ve been moving well and I’ve got the two goals, so personally I’m happy [with my game],” said Schaller. “Hopefully others can feed off what I’m trying to do out there, and we get a more well-balanced game [as a team]. I had a good season last year, and what was really good was that I knew that I had more to give. That’s what I’m trying to do this season.

“I can obviously produce more. I had a good start to last season and then I kind of fell off a little bit. So hopefully I can be a little more consistent for this entire year.”

That would be a very good thing for a Bruins team that can use him in a bottom-6 energy role when its roster is healthy, and will fully utilize his versatility in times of injuries and adversity.

Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

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Morning Skate: Cheers for Boyle as he returns to practice with Devils

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while determined to go see Foo Fighters at Fenway Park this time around. 
 
-- In the great news department, Hingham native Brian Boyle hears cheers at practice as he returns to work for the New Jersey Devils after his cancer diagnosis. Boyle might be wearing a Devils uniform, but he knows he has all of Boston in his corner along with many, many other corners of the hockey world. 

-- There is no panic with the Maple Leafs over the slow start for Mitch Marner, who has been dropped to the fourth line in the early going.
 
-- Wellesley native Chris Wagner is beginning to get recognized for his big hits and physical play with the Anaheim Ducks

-- Senators prospect and Massachusetts native Joey Daccord makes an unbelievable game-saving stop for his college team. 

-- For something completely different: Greg Nicotero talks about the Walking Dead premiere, and a character thought dead that might actually still be alive.