Tuukka Rask's most important contribution to the Bruins last season may have been maintaining a professional attitude after losing the No. 1 goalie job to Tim Thomas. By refusing to spark controversy, Rask allowed the B's to stay focused and ride Thomas to the Stanley Cup.
Rask has shown that he is more than a typical backup netminder, though. He proved his worth as a rookie two years ago, appearing in 45 games with a .931 save percentage and 1.97 goals against average.
At 24 years old, Rask could be the Bruins' goalie of the future, and he's expected to share the load with Thomas this season to a greater extent. Coach Claude Julien reportedly is considering using Rask as soon as the second game of the season Saturday night against the Lightning.
Nobody is pushing Thomas, the reigning Vezina and Conn Smythe trophies winner, out the door. But there's little doubt that at 37, Thomas could benefit from pacing himself. Giving Rask more than the 29 games he appeared in last year could help the team in the short term by keeping Thomas fresh, and in the long term by preparing Rask to take over the starting goalie job full-time down the road.