Tuukka Rask: Boston Bruins Goalie Is Set to Return from Czech Republic

Chris Blanchard@@BlanchardNHLContributor IIINovember 21, 2012

Milan Podpera
Milan Podpera

Boston Bruins' top netminder Tuukka Rask has announced plans to return at the end of the week from a stint in the Czech Republic, according to a tweet from Roman Jedlicka. 

Rask joined the Czech Extraliga's HC Plzen at the end of September and plans to play his final game for the club on Friday. 

Through 16 contests, Rask has been arguably the best goaltender in the league. He has posted a 12-4 record with a league-leading 1.99 goals against average. He has saved 92.82 percent of the shots he has faced. 

Rask's efforts have launched HC Plzen into first place in the league. When news broke of Rask's intention to leave the club, Roman Jedlicka tweeted the following:

"Tuukka Rask is the main - not only but main - reason why Pilsen is at 1st place in Czech league. He could put label CLOSED on his goal."

The 25-year-old Finnish netminder's impressive play overseas has been tremendously encouraging, especially considering Rask is set to become Boston's starter in the wake of Tim Thomas' surprising sabbatical.

Rask has not been Boston's regular starter since his rookie season of 2009-10, when he led the league in both save percentage and goals against average. The Bruins believe he is capable of being an elite goaltender moving forward, but he still has much to prove. 

In June, Rask signed a one-year deal with the Bruins that will give him the chance to earn a major raise next summer if he meets expectations. 

The Bruins should be relieved that Rask has decided to return home in preparation for the NHL campaign, considering that it significantly lowers his risk of injury. 

Concerns over Rask's health arose when he suffered a minor groin injury on October 23. Though he returned to the ice just three days later and has remained healthy ever since, the injury reminded fans of Rask's extended battle with groin issues late last season. 

When Rask returns, the number of Bruins playing abroad will drop to 10. Defenseman Johnny Boychuk recently brought the total to 11 when he joined EC Red Bull Salzburg in Austria's Erste Bank Eishockey Liga on November 16. Bruins stars such as Tyler Seguin, Patrice Bergeron and Zdeno Chara continue to await the end of the lockout in Europe.