He felt the pain. And even worse, he heard the noise no athlete ever wants to hear when he extended for a save midway through the second period of last Saturday’s game with the New York Islanders.
The Bruins netminder had to be helped off the ice, and Rask’s fears were confirmed when he was diagnosed with an abdominal strain and groin strain that will sideline him for 4-6 weeks.
“When it happened I heard a snap in my ab and I was obviously in a lot of pain,” Rask said Saturday, discussing the injury publicly for the first time before the Bruins’ 4-3 loss to Washington at the Garden. “I was happy that I hopefully don’t have to go through surgery, and that’s pretty much it. You know, 4-6 weeks [is what] the doctor said. That’s pretty tough, but the main thing is to get better and get ready for the playoffs.”
Rask is holding out hope that he will be ready to play again in the postseason if needed, and the current timetable for his recovery should allow for that, even though Rask recognizes that he’ll likely need the full six weeks to heal.
“You hope so right? You just have to go by the week, by the day with these kind of injuries,” Rask said. “[Bruins general manager] Peter [Chiarelli] and the doctors talked, it’s probably closer to six weeks than four. That would be right around the playoff time and I think we’re going to shoot for that and hopefully it’s better by that time.”
The Bruins will miss Rask mightily though in the final weeks of the season leading up to those playoffs. With a particularly heavy late-season schedule, Rask was expected to see an increased workload to help ease the burden on starter Tim Thomas, but now Thomas won’t get as much rest as planned before the postseason.
“There’s nothing you can do about it,” Rask said. “It is tough, and it is what it is but you just have to stay positive and let it heal. You can’t be thinking about that too much, but it’s obviously tough and you feel for Timmy, because we were going to share a lot of games in this month I bet and get a lot of workload off each other’s shoulders too. But things happen in hockey and it happened to me this time and hopefully we can get ready for the playoffs.”
The Bruins did get Thomas some help by signing veteran Marty Turco on Monday. He cleared waivers and joined the team on Wednesday, but has yet to appear in a game and will not be eligible to play in the postseason.
“I haven’t seen him on the ice but I talked to him a few times,” Rask said of Turco. “He’s a great guy. I saw him during the Finals last year actually. He’s a really well-spoken man and really nice guy and you can tell he’s been around for a long time. He’s a good add to our team.”
Rask said he was feeling better and his walking had improved. He is still getting around a bit gingerly, but does not need crutches. Surgery has not been completely ruled out, but Rask doesn’t expect to need anything beyond rest and rehabilitation.
“No I don’t think so,” Rask said. “You never know what the doctors say, but I don’t think I’ll need surgery.”
In the meantime, there’s not too much that Rask can do to speed the healing process or keep in shape.
“I can’t, you know it’s your ab and it’s your groin – you’re whole body kind of goes through that area there,” said Rask, who added his first week of therapy consisted mostly of just icing the area and resting. “So there’s really nothing I can do cardio-wise right now, just mental exercises and I jumped in the hot tub today. That’s a nice relaxing spa day.”