BostonBruins.com - Tuukka Rask made his Olympic debut for Team Finland on Thursday in Sochi, Russia, backstopping his squad to an 8-4 win over Austria in their opener.
For those who managed the 3:00 a.m. wakeup call on the East Coast, they saw a fairly calm, confident netminder in the Suomi blue, despite what showed up on the stat sheet as four goals allowed on 20 shots.
"Wasn't nervous at all," Rask told me after the game.
BostonBruins.com - Bruins alternate captain Patrice Bergeron knows it will be difficult to top winning the gold medal he took home from his first Olympics with Team Canada in Vancouver in 2010.
But he and his Canadian teammates have their sights set on just that.
"Obviously Vancouver was a great experience, was amazing to be in your home country and representing your country and be able to win gold," he said before heading to Sochi, Russia for the 2014 Winter Olympics.
"So hopefully we're able to do that again, but we have a great challenge in front of us, and we're looking forward to it."
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Patrice may have left his Black & Gold back in Boston for the next two weeks, as did his fellow Bruins Olympians, but the passion he has for the game never changes, whether he's in his usual Spoked-B or the red and white maple leaf logo.
On Wednesday, I caught up with the Bruin after he took in the hard-fought spectacle of the Canada-USA women's hockey preliminary matchup, in which the Canadians defeated Team USA, 3-2. He's been in Sochi since Monday, settling in and getting ready for game action.
Below are his thoughts on the experience…
Heading into Canada's first game against Norway on Thursday, February 13 (12:00 p.m. ET, live on USA Network), the usual centerman's role was on the right wing, alongside John Tavares at center and Jamie Benn on the left wing.
BostonBruins.com - Captain Zdeno Chara has been taking in and enjoying the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia since heading over to take part in the Opening Ceremony and carry Slovakia's flag on February 7.
Now, the Games begin for "Big Zee," Captain for both the Black & Gold and Team Slovakia for the second straight Olympics (his third time playing).
On the cusp of his first game against the United States on Thursday, February 13, at 7:30 a.m. ET (live on NBC Sports Network), Chara joined sportscaster Dan Patrick and NBC Olympics inside their Sochi studio.
While the Captain's in Russia, we don't have much contact with him, so the interview was a treat for anyone who tuned in following the USA-Canada women's hockey matchup on Wednesday.
He spoke about the honor of carrying Slovakia's flag, calling it an "amazing feeling" and was asked if the competitive feeling is different, suiting up for his country, versus Boston.
BostonBruins.com - The Bruins' contingent of Olympians arrived in Sochi, Russia on Monday after a long flight overseas from Boston, joining Zdeno Chara, whose experience had started earlier than the rest, carrying Slovakia's flag in the Opening Ceremony.
Included in that group was goalie Tuukka Rask, making his first Olympic appearance for Finland.
After a few days of settling in to the Olympic Village, and getting in practice time with his Finnish teammates, Tuukka had the chance to check in, sending along an [awesome] photo from in front of the Bolshoy Ice Dome, where he'll play his first game.
Eriksson's squad came out on top with a 4-2 win at the Bolshoy Ice Dome.
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Eriksson, wearing No. 21 (a number once reserved for Peter Forsberg on the national team), played 18:37 in ice time, on a line with Daniel Sedin and Nicklas Backstrom. He had two shots and didn't get on the scoresheet but provided the screen in front on Karlsson's shot from the top of the slot that put them up, 4-0.
After averaging about five minutes each period through the first 40 minutes, he played a team-high 8:02 in the third period, and was robbed by Alexander Salak point-blank after a feed from behind the goal by Daniel Sedin.
The playing time came with the Swedes trying to put the clamp down on a Czech team that had fought back to make it a 4-2 game with back-to-back goals 2:11 apart in the second period.
BostonBruins.com - The NHL may be taking a two-week break, and most of the Bruins' roster getting some well-deserved rest as a result, but five Bruins are embracing the pressure-packed atmosphere of the Olympics on the world stage.
Patrice Bergeron (Canada), Loui Eriksson (Sweden), David Krejci (Czech Republic) and Tuukka Rask (Finland) all flew over to Sochi, Russia on Sunday, a day after the team capped off their strong push to the Olympic Break with a 7-2 route of the Ottawa Senators.
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The Captain will be leading Slovakia's squad for the second time, and suiting up in his third straight Winter Olympics (it's his fourth time heading to the Games).
Meanwhile, Bergeron and Team Canada will be aiming to defend the gold medal they took home from Vancouver in 2010.
Krejci and Eriksson are also participating in their second Olympics, while Rask was tabbed by Finland for his first Olympic experience.
BostonBruins.com - When Bruins General Manager Peter Chiarelli addressed media prior to the Olympic Break, the state of the Black & Gold unfolded from his perspective.
After 57 games, Boston sits first in the Atlantic Division with 78 points and a 37-16-4 record.
"I think our team has been, as always, our structure has been good. I think we have improved our ability to score," said Chiarelli, before the Bruins capped off their push to the Olympic Break with a 7-2 performance over Ottawa on February 8. "I think our depth has been outstanding - through the forwards that we brought up and now you see the D in there."
The Bruins will finish out their regular season with 25 games in a month and a half that includes eight back-to-backs. Knowing it would be a tough, compressed schedule ahead, they put themselves in a solid position heading into the final stretch run.
"There are not many games left, so you just want to think about continuing good habits, continuing structure."
BostonBruins.com - "Here's Slovakia, and the Captain of the Boston Bruins carries in the flag."
Zdeno Chara, laden with Team Slovakia gear, emerged into Fisht Olympic Stadium in Sochi, Russia, leading his country's delegation of athletes.
He was beaming.
Walking into a stadium of more than 40,000 people for the Opening Ceremony of the 2014 Winter Olympics on Friday, he was the proud face of Slovakia.
The announcement was heard by those all across the United States, tuning into NBC's broadcast.
The genuine happiness in his smile, his steady walk and his reverent glance at the flag said it all.
BOSTON, MA - The objective was simple: get as many points as possible heading into the two-week Olympic Break.
With a dominant 7-2 win over Ottawa on Saturday, the Bruins ended their final segment with win No. 8 and 18 points in their past 11 games.
The TD Garden crowd appreciated the send-off.
Patrice Bergeron put the night in drive, and the the Bruins took over, never letting up. Aside from the one regulation loss in their recent stretch of success, that's been the case every game.
"Our guys can certainly go in and get that rest," said Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien. "They’ve earned it in my mind."
"And I know the group we have here, they’ll be ready to come back and get back to action here."
"I was pretty impressed with our whole approach to this game, where there could have been a lot of distractions and everything else," said Julien.
"Our guys just played so well. The puck was moving well, good decisions all around. It was a real solid game for us and a great way to finish."
BostonBruins.com - The Bruins knew they would be without Zdeno Chara for two games.
The Captain was traveling to Sochi, Russia to carry his native Slovakia's flag in the Olympic Opening Ceremony on February 7.
They knew his absence would be felt, as any player's is, but they also knew that they would have to get the job done.
"Obviously I would never have made this decision without talking to the team – management, coaches and obviously players," Chara had reiterated after the Bruins' 3-1 win over Vancouver on February 4, his last game before departing for Sochi.
"It would be pretty selfish if I were to make that decision on my own. This was made as a group and that was the only way I would accept it. So I really appreciate it again and it means a lot to me. Again, thank you to all who made that decision."
Since the honor was first announced back on January 16, it was a non-issue with the team, and for Head Coach Claude Julien.
"When you look at what Zee has done for this club, I think it's an easy decision to make, because you're carrying your country's flag at the Olympics," Julien had said that day in Dallas.