WILMINGTON, Mass. — Zoltan Mesko probably doesn't have to worry anytime soon, but Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask let it be known on Monday that at some point down the road, he might be after the Patriots punter's job.
The Bruins wrapped up a spirited practice before a packed house at Ristuccia Arena with an interesting battle drill. With the nets pulled over up against the boards in one corner, a two-on-two drill in confined space took place.
It was all smiles for the most part, but Rask did get frustrated at one point and flashed a bit of his famous temper when he dropped the puck and punted it over the boards into the netting above the glass on the side of the rink.
Rask was drawing upon his soccer background from his youth in Finland, but admitted he thought he had the skills to give punting on the gridiron a try.
"Yeah, I'm not a bad soccer player," Rask said. "Strictly soccer. I probably could be a punter though at some point."
Fellow netminder Tim Thomas offered a more critical appraisal of Rask's effort, which admittedly was a bit of a shank as it veered out of play rather quickly.
"He's good, but it's hard with goalie pads on," Thomas said. "That's what's going to happen. It's going to go straight up in the air. You've got to be careful. Being a veteran and having tried moves like that before, he's got to practice where he drops the puck on his pads so it can stay in play."
Thomas' final advice? Stick to soccer kid.
"Probably his soccer helps him more than the American football would," Thomas said.
Rask did get the last laugh in practice, though, getting the better of Tyler Seguin on a breakaway attempt as the workout wrapped up.
Seguin tried to play up to the unusually large crowd on hand with the day off for New Year's, as he stood at center ice and cupped his hand by his head calling for applause a la Hulk Hogan before starting his breakaway. After stuffing Seguin's attempt, Rask then good-naturedly mocked the youngster by pointing at him and imitating his cupped hand motion.
"We always go back and forth," Rask said. "It's a fun way to end up the practice. It's always a good time."
The good times extended to the locker room when Seguin, having lost the shootout battle, had to hand deliver a Gatorade to the victorious netminder.
"Juice boy," Rask ribbed Seguin upon delivery. "The loser always picks up the Gatorade."
It's doubtful a punter would get such deference in an NFL locker room, so maybe Rask should stick to his primary sport after all. Oh, and leading the NHL in both goals-against average (1.61) and save percentage (.945) is probably a good reason to stay in net too.