Tuukka Rask was fighting through it last season, and not just down the stretch.
Rask is nearing a return to NHL action after undergoing offseason hip surgery and resulting rehab the last five-plus months.
And from a health standpoint, he’s all good.
“I feel great,” Rask said Thursday over Zoom. “The biggest issue for me was the catching of the joint and the pain that that created. So that all is gone and it makes a huge difference because every time I go to butterfly and get up I don’t have to think about it locking up on me again and creating that pain. So, I feel great.”
Rask was limited to 24 regular season games of the 56 played last campaign, and his health was in constant question during the playoffs — especially in the second round against the New York Islanders.
In the games he was playing, it sounded like he was acutely aware of the pain.
“It was whole last season, basically,” Rask said. “That’s where it really aggravated. Before that it wasn’t an issue, I had abductor release surgery on that side maybe five years ago and that healed well, it’s just one of those wear and tear situations, I think. When you hit enough miles your body starts to break up on you, and I guess for goalies hips are the first ones to go, usually. …
“It didn’t really affect my everyday life that much, that hip injury. It was just for hockey. If I didn’t decide to play anymore and I didn’t want to pursue rehab and whatnot, I didn’t have to do the surgery. But since I wanted to have good quality of life and then try to play hockey again it was basically the only option. But it is nice that now that I’ve been practicing quite a bit with high volume for a while now, and the pain doesn’t come after practices like it used to and that’s the biggest difference. From an everyday perspective it was never a huge issue, but from a hockey perspective definitely feels so much better.”
Rask will play Friday against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms, and potentially Sunday, as well. The plan beyond that is unclear.