Is Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask over the Game 7 loss to the St. Louis Blues in the Stanley Cup Final?
Speaking on The Greg Hill Show during the WEEI/NESN Jimmy Fund Radio-Telethon on Tuesday, more than two months since that heartbreaking defeat, Rask explained his current feelings on the matter.
“I don’t think you ever get over that, still getting flashbacks. But you know you got to realize it’s only sports, and it is what it is,” Rask said.
Rask was asked how long it took to accept that it was just sports.
“Not too long. I think it was just a few days because you’re so in the groove and used to playing and practicing every day and then it’s just ‘boom, I don’t have to do anything now.’ I think that’s the biggest kind of change. But you know it takes a couple of days,” said Rask, who had a .934 save percentage and 2.02 goals-against average in the Stanley Cup Playoffs and would’ve won the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP has the Bruins prevailed.
Rask is 32 and heading into the seventh year of an eight-year contract with an average annual value of $7 million. While Rask has been a mainstay in the Bruins’ crease since 2013, the rest Bruins’ core has basically remained the same. There haven’t been many changes to the roster since the loss to the Blues either, and Rask believes that will help the Bruins compete for a championship again in 2019-20.
“I think it’s always good when your team’s not changing a whole lot. I think we’ve had the same core group of guys for many, many years, and then we’ve added pieces to it, and it’s been working great,” Rask said. “Butchy’s [Bruce Cassidy> been coaching us tremendously and Donny’s [general manager Don Sweeney> doing a great job managing everything. So I think we have all the pieces, it’s just a matter of, I think with the run we had last year, it’s such a grind and long run, that I think you have to be mentally fresh to start off the new year. And that will be our biggest challenge because we have the skill and talent.”
Bouncing back from the grind of a 106-game season that didn’t end until June 12 will be more of a mental challenge than a physical one, according to Rask.
“I think the mental aspect is the biggest thing, especially if it’s a disappointing loss like that. You have to just kind of unwind and try to forget about hockey as much as you can,” he said. “But then again you only have 2 ½, three months until the next season starts and you’ve got to take a month for your body to recover. So it’s a really small window to kind of recover and then try to get back in shape. I think that if you can just kind of do something and stay somewhat in shape and keep skating, that’ll help you start the new season because you only had a couple months between the games.
“But I think mentally, it’s just such a grind, hockey season, you know you play 82 games plus 25 possibly, so mentally it’s very draining. And the fresher mentally you can be, the better off you are I think.”
The Bruins open training camp Sept. 13.