In this April 10, 2013 file photo, Boston Bruins goalies Tim Thomas and Tuukka Rask chat while skating during a practice session. — Associated Press file photo
Just imagine what Tuukka Rask and Tim Thomas chat about when the present and past Boston Bruins goalies, and friends, have time to talk.
Perhaps they discuss what it’s like to stop shot after shot at the most important time of the season.
But Rask isn’t saying.
“It’s between him and me,” he said Sunday.
In 2011, Thomas won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player in the NHL post-season when he posted a 16-9 record, 1.98 goals-against average and .940 save percentage. He led the Bruins to their first Stanley Cup title since 1972 in a seven-game series against the Vancouver Canucks.
Rask’s numbers this year are even better — a 13-5 record, 1.73 GAA and .944 save percentage. And the Bruins are three wins away from another championship, tied 1-1 with the Chicago Blackhawks heading into Game 3 on Monday night.
The 39-year-old Thomas took this season off after the NHL lockout then was traded to the New York Islanders and has stayed away from the game. After three full seasons as his teammate, Rask inherited the job.
“Tim has been a great goaltender for us. When you lose a guy like that, there’s always that fear that you’re not going to be able to replace him,” coach Claude Julien said Sunday. “Tuukka’s done an outstanding job. To me, he’s been as much of a contributor to our team as Tim was two years ago.”
See Keeping Up, page C3
In the Eastern Conference finals, Rask allowed just only goals in four games as Boston swept the Pittsburgh Penguins. In the finals against Chicago, Rask has allowed five goals so far, but kept Game 2 close when he stopped 18 shots in the first period of the Bruins’ 2-1 overtime win.
“I always feel like I’m in a zone,” Rask said, “nothing different, just another game. My job is really easy, or really simple, not easy — to stop the puck.”
Julien has been trying different lines since centre Gregory Campbell broke his right leg in the Eastern Conference finals against Pittsburgh.
He hit on one combination in a big way on Saturday night.
Chris Kelly, Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin played together in Game 2 of the Stanley Cup finals and were responsible for both of the goals in Boston’s 2-1 overtime victory against the Chicago Blackhawks that evened the series at a game apiece.
“I think Claude is just trying to find different chemistry with different guys, who’s going on any given night,” Kelly said. “Claude has a pretty good feel for his players. I think our line got thrown together, I don’t know, end of the first, beginning of the second. I thought we went out there and played well.”
Popeye Jones played one of his 11 NBA seasons as a forward with the Boston Celtics in 1998-99, averaging 3 points and 2.9 rebounds in 18 games. His son is better at hockey.
Tonight, Seth Jones will be in the building where his father spent one injury-plagued season. The son is one of the top draft prospects scheduled to attend tonight’s Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
Jones, a defenceman with Portland of the Western Hockey League, is the possible No. 1 pick in the draft on June 30. Others scheduled to be at the game are two players with Halifax of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, centre Nathan MacKinnon and left wing Jonathan Drouin, and defenceman Darnell Nurse of Sault Ste. Marie of the Ontario Hockey League.
This is the 20th year in which draft prospects attend the Stanley Cup finals. Six players in the current series have been in those groups — Boston’s Wade Redden in 1995, Nathan Horton in 2003, Tyler Seguin in 2010 and Dougie Hamilton in 2011 and Chicago’s Jonathan Toews in 2006 and Patrick Kane in 2007.