Yet, despite that fact, Thomas’ numbers aren’t even the best on his own team. That’s because Tuukka Rask has bounced back from something of an off-year last season to have what’s been the best season of his young career thus far.
Rask’s future in Boston, were it not for the play of Thomas, would probably be set by now, or it would at least be a formality. In practically any other city, Rask would be locked up to a long-term contract as the goalie of the future. Thomas’ play (not to mention his contract) may be complicating that some in Boston, but the young Finnish goalie is making it clear that he wants to remain in Boston.
“I think everyone does,” Rask told ESPN.com when asked if he wanted to stay in Boston. “I bet a lot of guys want to come and play here as well. We’ve got a good group of guys here that have been here for a couple of years now and I think that’s my goal as well.
“I haven’t really put a lot of thought into it, but [Thomas has] got a year left on his contract and mine is up obviously, but I want to stay here. I’m sure they have a plan for that too and it will all work out good. I’m a young guy and I want to have a long future ahead of me as a Bruin and make more good things happen for the team and our fans.”
General manager Peter Chiarelli and the rest of the Boston front office will have some decisions to make. As Rask pointed out, his contract is up after this year, while Thomas’s deal and his $5 million cap hit are on the books through the 2012-13 season. Rask, though, is making the case for a long-term contract from anybody, as he enters Wednesday night leading the league in both goals against average (1.61) and save percentage (.945).
He’s making $1.5 million this season, but he’s certainly in line for a raise, not to mention a promotion if he keeps up his play. Yet, Rask told ESPN.com that he’s not thinking too much about his situation, though he did concede that he’s using it as motivation of sorts.
“You don’t want to think about it too much, but obviously it’s a contract year and you want to prove something,” Rask said. “You’ve got to find a job eventually and you try to have the best season possible and get a good contract.”
Will that job — and good contract — come to Rask in the form of an extension and eventual promotion in Boston? Only time will tell. For now, though, Rask isn’t too worried about his situation, even if Thomas remains as the club’s de facto No. 1 netminder.
“Obviously I expected Tim to have most of the starts again, but I think last year helped me a lot to be mentally prepared and not take it too personally,” Rask told ESPN.com. “Now I know how to be ready all the time and not just focus on that one game I play here and there.”
Don’t expect any update from Chiarelli any time soon on Rask’s future with the Bruins however.
“Tuukka is a large part of our present and our future,” Chiarelli told ESPN.com.
Regardless of what happens to Rask (or Thomas for that matter), one thing is becoming abundantly clear. For now, the Bruins have the best 1-2 combination between the pipes in all of hockey, and that’s something that doesn’t appear destined to change as long as the duo calls Boston home.