fb-pixel Skip to main content

Tuukka Rask returns to Bruins practice, then is named a Vezina Trophy finalist

Brighton MA 7/13/20 Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask denies a shot on goal during Day 1 of the Boston Bruins training camp as they prepare for the resumption of the season at the Warrior Ice Arena. (photo by Matthew J Lee/Globe Staff) coronavirus (COVID-19) topic: reporter: Matthew J. Lee/Globe staff

Tuukka Rask is dealing with a sore hand as he tries to get his feet underneath him.

Rask, whom coach Bruce Cassidy said was “stung by a shot” in Tuesday’s practice, left Thursday’s practice early. He reported for duty Friday at Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton and was apparently full-go, but his appearance on a video call later that day offered another clue about his condition.

Rask, named a Vezina Trophy finalist on Friday, wore a fabric splint on his left (catching) hand while Zoom conferencing with fellow nominees Andrei Vasilevskiy (Tampa Bay Lightning) and Connor Hellebuyck (Winnipeg Jets). His middle and ring fingers were wrapped.

Advertisement



Cassidy noted that players, particularly early in camp, get bumps and bruises. He plans to break in Rask slowly, knowing he will need him for a long playoff run. That’s fine with Rask, 33, who spent the four months of the NHL’s pause entirely away from hockey.

“Now that we got back into training, I haven’t noticed any difference in my game,” he said. “I think it helps that you have some years under your belt and you kind of know that it might take a couple of weeks to get back in your rhythm. I think the key is to not do too much out there. I think that has helped me in the past week or so.

“Just kind of giving myself a break, and get back in the groove slowly. I know the games are going to happen pretty quickly. I guess we’re going to find out how this break worked out. I’m not too worried about it. I think as long as you can keep your mind sharp and keep your head in the game, even though you’re taking a break, it’ll work to your benefit.”

This is the second Vezina nomination for Rask, who won in 2014. That season, he was 36-15-6 with seven shutouts, a 2.04 goals against average and a .930 save percentage.

Advertisement



This year, he was 26-8-6 with five shutouts, a 2.12 GAA and .929 save percentage. He led the league in the latter two categories, among goalies with 30 or more starts, and tied for second in shutouts. He and teammate Jaroslav Halak won the Jennings Trophy for fewest goals against.

Rask faces stiff competition from Hellebuyck, who dragged a rebuilding Jets defense to the postseason.

If Rask wins, he will be the seventh goalie to win two Vezinas. The others, since the league changed the award from a stats-based selection to a voting process in 1981: Dominik Hasek (6), Martin Brodeur (4), Patrick Roy (3), Tim Thomas, Ed Belfour and Sergei Bobrovsky (2 each).

The award is voted on by the NHL’s general managers.

Nordstrom also out

Friday’s practice featured everyone on the roster but David Pastrnak, Ondrej Kase — both of whom also missed Thursday’s workout — and forward Joakim Nordstrom, who was also “unfit to participate.”

Fellow Swede Anton Blidh replaced Nordstrom at No. 4 left wing. Nordstrom has been a regular at practice this week. He dealt with foot and back injuries and an infected elbow in the first half of the regular season.

Forward Sean Kuraly, reacting to the continued absence of Pastrnak and Kase, said he hoped to have his full complement of teammates soon, but wasn’t dwelling on it. “We’re a team that’s focused on what’s ahead. Some of these things, like injuries, they happen. We’re going to listen to the doctors, and as a team focus on who’s available to come play,” he said. “That’s always worked. The next man up has always done their job and been ready in that role.”

Advertisement



Tough for net gains

With Halak likely to get some work in either the upcoming exhibition against Columbus or three-game round robin against Philadelphia, Tampa Bay and Washington, reserves Dan Vladar and Max Lagace will be hard up for playing time.

“I don’t know if we can get them live action,” Cassidy said. “The round-robin games are meaningful.” … Anders Bjork remained on the top line with Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. Karson Kuhlman spent the morning with Jake DeBrusk and David Krejci on the second line. Kuraly, naturally a left-shot, fourth-line center, continues to work as the third-line right wing with Nick Ritchie and Charlie Coyle … Marchand, Bergeron and Krejci were very sharp in drills and a physical scrimmage. All three also made Vladar look like an AHL goalie by beating him clean … The third-pair right defense spot next to Matt Grzelcyk appears to be Jeremy Lauzon’s to lose. Though he is a left stick, he does not struggle to play the right side, and brings a physical element that John Moore and Connor Clifton do not … Kuraly, on whether he plans to bring his leaping goal celebration to the bubble in Toronto: “I obviously don’t plan that or I wouldn’t do something that goofy. It’s an instinct thing. It’ll be a game-time decision. Hopefully we find out soon. Hopefully we find out often.”

Advertisement




Matt Porter can be reached at matthew.porter@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter: @mattyports.