Young Rask ready to play

MIKE ZEISBERGER -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:56 AM ET

BOSTON -- Decked out in street duds, Tuukka Rask stood behind the glass near centre ice at the TD Banknorth Garden, intensely watching the Maple Leafs morning skate.

To his left was Vesa Toskala, the veteran goaltender who practised with Rask during the summer in Tampere, Finland.

Glancing to his right, he saw Andrew Raycroft, the man he was traded for during the 2006 entry draft in Vancouver 17 months ago.

With Rask on the verge of making his first NHL start in the near future, everyone wanted to know the same thing: Are you ready for the big leagues?

"I think I am," Rask said yesterday. "I played games in North America before this year, so I'm familiar with the smaller rinks. It hasn't been that much of an adjustment, really.

"I can tell from practice at this level that some of the guys can shoot harder than in the AHL. Other than that, like I said, I'm ready."

Rask has been outstanding for the Bruins farm club in Providence, sporting a 7-1 record and a microscopic 1.98 goals-against average.

With Manny Fernandez still recovering from knee woes, Rask was summoned to the Bruins late Wednesday night to back up Tim Thomas, who got the start for Boston against the Leafs last night.

"I don't think (the Bruins) would have signed me to a three-year contract if I wasn't in their plans," said Rask, who is in the first year of that deal.

"I've often mentioned that we are taking (the goalie situation) one game at a time," Bruins coach Claude Julien said. "This time it's Tim but we're ready for Tuukka and he's ready, too."


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