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He never dug really deep into his plumber’s toolkit, in part because Tuukka Rask already was a very good goalie and dreaming of an NHL career in his teenage years. But because he figured a day could come when bricking up the front of a 24-square-foot hockey net might not provide a living, Rask spent a small part of his high school years in Finland studying and training to be a plumber.
“I can’t say I was very good at it,’’ Rask recalled late last summer, when all NHLers were considering alternative employment prior to the lockout beginning Sept. 15. “But, yeah, it was something I tried . . . enough to know it’s hard work. Probably good for me that hockey worked out OK.’’
Rask, now the No. 1 stopper for the Bruins, on Saturday night turned back all of Toronto’s 21 shots and registered a 1-0 shutout, the 12th of his career. Other than being among the guilty in Thursday night’s teamwide flop against the Sabres, Rask’s first two weeks of the new NHL season have added further credence that he will prove a worthy successor to the two-time Vezina winner Tim Thomas.
Rask, 25, has a 5-1-1 record, 2.10 goals-against average, and .919 save percentage. He also has less than three months remaining on a one-year deal paying him $3.5 million, which means he is helping to shape the Bruins into a solid playoff contender while positioning himself to be a huge winner at the bargaining table — be it before the season ends or over the summer.
With the Bruins off until Wednesday night’s visit to Montreal, Rask likely will make two of the next three starts, beginning against the Habs. Coach Claude Julien then probably will split the back-to-back weekend games between Rask and Anton Khudobin. The high-scoring Tampa Bay Lightning, led by Steven Stamkos’s 16 points in eight games, will be at the Garden for a matinee on Saturday, and the Bruins make their first visit to Buffalo the following night.
The Bruins flew directly home after the win in Toronto and were given the day off to get some rest and otherwise enjoy Super Bowl Sunday. Look for medical updates after Monday’s 10:30 a.m. practice in Wilmington, regarding:
■ Brad Marchand — The pesky winger banged heavily into the rear boards in the second period on Saturday, pressured near the net by defenseman Mike Komisarek and then tripping over Leafs goalie James Reimer near the left post. The Lil’ Ball of Hate was in obvious pain, apparently with a shoulder injury, but he played one more shift on the Patrice Bergeron-Tyler Seguin line before calling it quits for the night. Gregory Campbell moved up from fourth-line center in the third period to fill the void left by Marchand.
■ Daniel Paille — Grazed with a high stick up around his visor on Thursday night, Paille did not travel to Toronto, his roster spot filled by Jamie Tardif. Paille is not likely out long term, but doctors advised keeping him back in Boston to get an extra day or two of rest.
■ Shawn Thornton — The strongman crumpled under the assault of some heavy John Scott punches on Thursday, and general manager Peter Chiarelli announced Friday that the veteran right winger will be out for 7-10 days. Julien’s toughest work in the meantime might be forcing Thornton to pipe down, keep his feet up, and do what the doctors tell him.
Spot-on at dot
Of the busiest faceoff artists in the league, Bergeron, with 101 wins this season, owns the highest victory rate, 63.5 percent . . . As of Sunday night, Milan Lucic ranked tied fifth in the league with the Rangers’ Brian Boyle for hits (31). The league’s top hitter: Montreal’s Alexei Emelin (35).