Rask: Putting on the pounds

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Tuukka Rask will most likely be in Providence at the start of the year. (Reuters Photo)

This summer, Tuukka Rask had one objective: bulk up.

By lifting weights and eating as many as five meals a day, Rask got up to a maximum of 180 pounds, 10 more than his final 2007-08 weigh-in. Rask said he’s had trouble jacking up his body fat in the past, so he was free to partake in greasy burgers and pizza.

However, once he got back on the ice several weeks ago, Rask shed approximately four pounds.

“Still working on that,” Rask said of packing on weight.

This summer, Rask worked out with Toronto goalie Vesa Toskala and Nashville defenseman Ville Koistinen. All three formerly played for Ilves in the Finnish Elite League.

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Last season, because of injuries to Tim Thomas and Manny Fernandez, Rask appeared in four NHL games (2-1-1, 3.25 GAA, .886 save percentage). Rask won his first start against Toronto, which drafted him in 2005. In Providence, Rask went 27-13-2 with a 2.33 GAA and a .905 save percentage for the AHL’s top club. Rask faltered in the playoffs, but his technical game and athleticism make him one of the league’s top netminding prospects.

“It was what I expected, maybe even more,” Rask said of his rookie year. “I really liked how things went.”

Rask will most likely start the season in Providence, especially given his lofty cap number. But if Rask, 21, performs well during his second year of North American hockey, he could make a case for a mid-season promotion and put himself in line for a full-time big-league job in 2009-10, when Thomas and Fernandez are scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency. Side note: If some of us followed Rask’s eating habits, we’d be pushing four bills easy.

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