Tuukka Rask

Return of “Tuukka Time”: Tuukka Rask to see more starts this season in Boston

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Two seasons ago, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask became a sensation in Boston with his stellar play and wild antics in goal. Playing as a feisty loose cannon in goal that makes a ton of saves and wins games will make you a favorite in any city, but in Boston “Tuukka Time” took on a life of its own.

Last season, Rask figured to continue his career onward and upward as Tim Thomas was coming back after a rough season and surgery. Thomas, of course, then went on to have one of the best seasons by a goalie in years winning the Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies and leading the Bruins to the Stanley Cup all while Rask took a backseat playing in just 29 games last season.

With Thomas a year older and coming off a season that saw him play 82 games through the regular season and playoffs, “Tuukka Time” is going to make a huge comeback this season. CSNNE.com’s Joe Haggerty has the details from Bruins coach Claude Julien about how Tuukka Rask will help keep Tim Thomas better rested this season.

“I think it’s pretty obvious that Tuukka has to take a bit of a bigger bite this year. That’s not a secret and don’t plan on making that a secret,” said Julien. “Tim is a great goaltender, but Tim is a goaltender that understands that he can’t play 70 plus games in the regular season. He’s had a long playoffs and I think Tim is going to be just as happy as we are to have Tuukka here and paying some of his best hockey.

“I liked [Rask’s] practice today, I thought Tuukka looked sharp and he came in great shape, so hopefully he’s ready to take on that load. We’ll certainly make sure that we share [the goaltending workload]. You just want to make sure you keep your goaltenders as sharp as you can and Tim had such an outstanding year last year. We’d love to see him duplicate it, but he might be able to duplicate with some help from Tuukka by keeping him as fresh as we can.”

Thomas’ stellar season last year is one that would be awfully tough to replicate and expecting him to do that is asking the impossible. The kind of work he did last year, especially in playing a full season schedule’s worth of games when it was all said and done, is the stuff of legends. It also means you can’t bank on that happening again, especially for a guy who is 37 years-old.

Rask is the heir to the throne eventually in Boston and after a rookie season that saw him play so well, the Bruins have no reasons to worry about how he’ll handle himself in goal. While he didn’t see much action last year, he’s more than capable of getting it done. Julien already saying he’ll be calling his number more often shows their confidence in him. Rask can help the Bruins win games and, more importantly, he can make sure Boston doesn’t miss a beat while Thomas gets a breather to help him be rested for a playoff run.

Let’s just hope Bruins fans can remember their “Tuukka” call for when he does get the call.

PHT Morning Skate: Beat writers survey predicts Ducks will win Cup

Corey Perry, Frederik Andersen
AP Photo
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PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

In a survey of 29 beat writers, the Anaheim Ducks emerged as the clear favorite to win the Stanley Cup. If you’ll recall, they have that in common with the EA Sports simulation. (Boston Globe)

Alex Ovechkin would pick an Olympic hit against Jaromir Jagr as the biggest check of his life. (Russian Machine Never Breaks)

Here are the highlights from Minnesota’s 5-4 victory over Colorado:

The Montreal Canadiens seem committed to using Alex Galchenyuk as a center throughout the 2015-16 campaign. (The Canadian Press)

The NHL recently enlisted its players to read off some not so mean tweets. (USA Today)

Bills coach Rex Ryan talked about the Sabres in Thursday’s press conference. (NHL.com)

Frederik Andersen may have the Anaheim Ducks’ starting job for now, but with John Gibson still a big part of their plans, Andersen has to keep proving himself. (Orange County Register)

Niemi blanks Pens, notches two assists in Stars debut

Antti Niemi, Sidney Crosby, Patric Hornqvist

DALLAS (AP) — Antti Niemi recorded his 33rd career shutout and assisted on two goals in his Dallas debut, as the Stars beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 3-0 on Thursday night in the season opener for both.

Ales Hemsky had a power-play goal and an assist.

Rookie Matthias Janmark scored on his first shot on his first shift in an NHL game to make it 1-0. The Stars acquired Niemi and Janmark in trades earlier this year.

Dallas scored on two of five power plays. Jamie Benn, the NHL’s leading scorer last season, had a power-play goal in the third period.

Niemi made 37 saves to improve his career record against the Penguins to 5-1-1. He withstood a flurry in the final minute after Pittsburgh pulled goalie Marc-Andre Fleury for an extra skater.

Fleury had 21 saves.

The Stars are 4-0-1 in their last five home games against Pittsburgh, and have won three in a row overall.

Janmark skated down the slot, took a pass from Hemsky and shot between Fleury’s legs at 1:39 of the first.

The Penguins dominated the latter half of the period, but couldn’t score. Niemi’s best stop was a reaching glove save of Rod Scuderi’s drive from the blue line with less than 3 minutes remaining. Pittsburgh outshot the Stars 10-4 in the first.

Hemsky scored at 5:42 of the second on Dallas’ first power play. His shot from the top of the right faceoff circle went in over Fleury’s right shoulder.

The Penguins again had an advantage in shots, 13-11. Pittsburgh had chances in close, but Niemi turned those away. Midway through the second, John Klingberg cleared away a loose puck from in front of the net.

Seven seconds into the Stars’ fourth power play of the third period, Jamie Benn tipped in Jason Spezza‘s shot from the right point.

NOTES: Dallas acquired Janmark as part of a March trade that sent Erik Cole to Detroit. The rookie had been playing in the Swedish Hockey League. . San Jose traded Niemi’s rights to the Stars in June for a seventh-round draft pick. Also making their Dallas debuts were LW Patrick Sharp and D Johnny Oduya, teammates with Chicago’s Stanley Cup champions last season. . In his first game for the Penguins, Phil Kessel played in his 447th straight game. . Pittsburgh was 0 for 3 on the power play.