In the midst of his own magical ride through the playoffs, Flyers forward Ville Leino took time to praise another rising star from his native Savonlinna, Finland, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask.
"Tuukka was amazing and is not the reason we won," said Leino, who is on the verge of playing in the Stanley Cup finals for a second straight season. "Tuukka really stood tall and it is good to see him reaching his potential."
Leino played for the Red Wings in last spring's Stanley Cup finals and was traded to Philadelphia in a cap-cutting move this past February. He is having an amazing playoff season with 12 points in as many games and has been one of the main reasons the Flyers are one game away from advancing to their first Cup final since 1997.
Even with so much going on in his life, the fully-bearded Leino was more than happy to chat about a goalie he thinks could eventually be the best to come from a country that breeds outstanding goaltenders.
"I don’t know, like they say something in the water right," Leino said with a laugh when asked what it is that makes Finland such a goalie factory. "You have [Miikka] Kiprusoff, [Niklas] Backstrom, and so many star goalies. But you look at Tuukka and maybe Pekka Rinne and they’re like the new — and maybe even better — breed. I think they are part of the elite group now and will be the best in the near future."
Leino, 26, knew that the 23-year-old Rask had the tools to be a star when he saw him between the pipes back in Savonlinna. He is not surprised at all that Rask was able to carry the Bruins down the stretch and make a name for himself.
"I knew when I first saw him as a kid back home he would be the star he is becoming," Leino said of Rask, who went 7-6 with a 2.61 GAA and .912 save percentage in 13 playoff games. "He had the natural ability and was a hard worker. Now he is there and he will be this way for a long time. I’m very happy for him."