Tuukka Rask is back and fans will be able to see the goalie between the pipes for the first time in seven months Friday night.
Rask signed a professional tryout with the Providence Bruins on Thursday morning. It was a move that probably surprised no one, considering Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy recently revealed the “game plan” for his return to Boston.
The veteran netminder will start for Providence at the Dunkin’ Donuts Center against the Lehigh Valley Phantoms. So, what can we expect from Rask?
Well, Rask hasn’t played in a game since June 9 against the New York Islanders, so don’t be surprised if there is some rust. He has been practicing with the Bruins at Warrior Ice Arena, but we all know how different practices are than actual games.
It certainly will be worth keeping an eye on how he moves about the crease, how he handles breakaways and how he looks in general. After all, he played parts of last season with a torn labrum and this is the first time he’s been fully healthy in months.
Rask has been rehabbing with the B’s and Cassidy has mentioned that he “looks the part” and has been taking his recovery seriously, which could lead one to believe he’s as motivated as ever to get back on the ice and prove he still can perform at an elite level.
Friday will be a good test for Rask and a good way to ease him back into game action. He likely will show flashes of being vintage Rask, but there won’t be any need to panic should he let in a goal or two. The expectations will be high from fans, but even higher from Rask. His stats over the years certainly work in his favor, and Rask also is the winningest goalie in Bruins history, so he certainly won’t be out of it for too long.
At the end of the day, though, it wouldn’t be surprising to see Rask not look as sharp right away given the long layoff from his last professional start. But if the eye tests from morning skates with the B’s and Cassidy’s recent comments are any indication of how Rask will perform Friday night, then the Lehigh Valley Pigs may be in trouble.
Rask looks like someone motivated to get back to the NHL, so don’t be surprised if he treats Friday’s game as a “prove it” one in order to earn a contract from the Bruins.
Expect a little rust, but also expect Rask to break out of that quickly and perform at a high level.