October 24, 2012

Groin woes the last thing Bruins want to hear about Rask

By Jesse Connolly

If I was an NHL general manager keeping tabs on my crop of locked-out players overseas, my line of thinking would probably go something like this:

If they fare well and post spectacular numbers, that’s nice to hear. If they stink up the joint, so be it. All that ultimately matters is they remain in one piece and return to North America healthy when the NHL is ready to hang its “open for business” sign back up.

One can only imagine what Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli’s heart rate must’ve clocked in at when he first caught wind of Tuukka Rask, his No. 1 netminder heading into the 2012-13 season, leaving HC Plzen’s game against Slavia Praha after the first period with a groin injury on Tuesday.

According to Rask, who stopped all 10 shots he faced in the opening frame, he made the early exit due to precautionary reasons.

“I slightly pulled my groin, but it’s not serious,” Boston’s 25-year-old netminder said. “I had groin problems last year, so I took a little rest as a precaution.”

The 6-foot-2 Finn has had his fair share of battles with lower-body injuries. He had a minor knee procedure last summer and missed nearly 10 weeks after going down with a groin injury in early March, returning midway through the B’s opening-round playoff series against the Capitals.

Over the summer, post-Tim Thomas’ unconventional departure, Rask inked a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the Bruins, keeping the term of the pact short with the hopes of proving he’s the team’s long-term solution between the pipes.

Through eight games for HC Plzen, which plays in the Czech Extraliga, Rask owned a 1.85 goals-against average and .936 save percentage. He had allowed just six goals in his last five starts heading into the matchup with Slavia Praha.

Given that he hadn’t seen game action in seven months, Rask’s overseas success is certainly encouraging. In reality, however, his achievements across the pond have zero impact on the Boston Bruins and mean next to nothing for fans of the Black and Gold.

All that does matter is that it’s “Tuukka Time” whenever opening night finally arrives. The longer this work stoppage drags on, the more often GMs will have to suffer scares like the one Chiarelli endured on Tuesday. 

Jesse Connolly can be reached at jconnolly@hockeyjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JesseNEHJ.