WILMINGTON, Mass. — By almost any measure, the NFL has become the most dominant sports league in the world.
The NFL has a reach extending across the globe, with Sunday’s Super Bowl being broadcast to nearly 200 countries. But America's version of football hasn't captured the attention of many in Finland, where soccer -– and hockey -– reign supreme.
But at least one Finn has been converted. So much so that for the second straight year the Bruins will be gathering in the home of goalie Tuukka Rask Sunday night to watch the Patriots try to bring yet another title back to Boston.
Rask didn't get much exposure to the NFL back in Finland, but he's become a fan since coming to North America back in 2007, spending the bulk of his first two seasons in Providence before coming up to Boston fulltime in 2009-10
"It's a fun game," Rask said after practice Friday at Ristuccia Arena. "I'm more of a soccer guy than a football guy, but it’s fun to watch, especially the playoffs.
"I didn't watch much, they don't really show that on TV back home," Rask added. "But I’ve been watching it for five years now, so I’m starting to know the rules of it. I still have a long ways to go I think."
The Bruins will have a long way to go on Sunday as well. They play in Washington at 12:30. But instead of looking for a place to watch the Super Bowl in D.C., they'll fly home right after their game, then make the mad dash to Rask's place to cheer on the Pats.
"We should be in right for kickoff, and I’m going right to Tuukka’s house," Bruins forward Shawn Thornton said, before revealing what may be the real reason Rask is the host of this Super Bowl party. "He’s got the only house in Charlestown big enough to have everyone."
Rask has more than just enough room for the Bruins to gather. He's also got the right attitude. He might not be the biggest football fan around, but he’s definitely loyal to the Pats.
"I'm not a huge [football] fan, but obviously you’ve got to support the Patriots," Rask said.
"Hopefully the Patriots win," Rask added. "I'm looking forward to a good game. It'll probably be a tight game. I’ll be cheering for the Pats. I know a couple of those guys, so hopefully they can pull it out."
Rask will be under some pressure himself. There's a tight window to get everything set for this year's Super Bowl gathering with the Bruins playing earlier in the day, but he's as calm handling party preparations as he is staring down opposing shooters.
"It should be fine," Rask said. "We've got everything set."