WILMINGTON, MA - Tuukka Rask was the last Olympian to rejoin his Bruins teammates on Thursday.
The netminder hit the ice for the team's optional skate at Ristuccia Arena, looking rested after spending a few days away from the rink after returning from Sochi.
"It was a lot of fun," Rask smiled from in front of his locker room stall, when asked about the experience in Sochi. "It was more fun than I imagined, but it's over now, and we're back here, back in business. Happy to be back, missed the guys."
Above his stall, his unpacked "Suomi" Team Finland mask sat just above his Bruins' one, the two of them mirror images. His bronze medal was somewhere in the locker room.
Rask had already switched back into Bruins mode, like the the other Olympians, but you could see him light up talking about what his country was able to do on the Olympic stage.
"I mean, it's a great tournament, it's a tough tournament. You play against the best players in the world and it's not the same situation that's in the NHL but it's still a battle, and it was great, a great thing for the Finns to get that medal," he said. "Nobody expected us to win it."
BostonBruins.com - The Bruins knew there would be rust to start their first game back in 18 days, when they hit the ice in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
That early playmaking rust wore off as the Black & Gold powered back with three unanswered goals to take a 4-3 lead over the Sabres into the final minute of regulation.
But it was the defensive rust that took hold late, as Boston gave up an extra attacker goal in the final minute and then fell 5-4 in overtime to the home team.
"Yeah, I thought offensively, I didn't mind our game," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said postgame. "I thought we moved the puck well, and we had some good offensive zone time and we scored four goals. We should win those kinds of games, but certainly we were definitely rusty defensively."
"The goals that we gave them are certainly not the way we normally give up goals - some loose gaps, two goals just around the slot area when we should have had a guy closer to him - and we needed some timely saves; we didn't get them tonight."
However, Bergeron and Eriksson were both set to travel with the team to Buffalo and are expected in the lineup against the Sabres on Wednesday night.
Rask is staying back in Boston to get more rest after returning from Sochi.
"Bergy and Loui [Eriksson] are meeting us at the plane. They’re going to come and play [in Buffalo]," Bruins Head Coach Claude Julien said following Tuesday's skate that marked his first back with the team since coming back from the Olympics.
"With Tuukka, I’ll use [Chad] Johnson tomorrow and [Niklas] Svedberg will back him up. So we’ve left Tuukka behind, and he’s going start his workouts tomorrow, maybe off-ice, and then Thursday on the ice with us."
Olympians David Krejci and Zdeno Chara returned to practice with the Bruins on Monday, and though they too are still feeling the effects of the nine-hour time difference and travel, they'll be ready to go on Wednesday night. The three days or so of rest before hitting the ice again will have helped.
BOSTON, MA - When the Bruins practiced on Monday morning in Boston, it was the first time they had hit the ice at TD Garden in 16 days.
Their last game came back on February 8. Their next comes just two days away, in Buffalo on Wednesday night.
As the Black & Gold have resumed their normal paces following the break, so too have Olympians Zdeno Chara and David Krejci. Both Bruins were back with the group on Monday, after getting in a few days of rest following their time in Sochi, Russia.
"It was amazing," Chara said of his experience, with no hesitation. "Every Olympics are very special, but these Olympics were, I would say, amazing. Really, everything about it, I enjoyed."
The Captain had suited up in two previous Olympics for Slovakia, in 2010 and 2006.
"It was just one of the greatest experiences in my life," he said.
BostonBruins.com - As the Winter Olympics wrapped up in Sochi on Sunday, three Bruins had been awarded medals.
Patrice Bergeron helped Canada win back-to-back gold, as they defeated Sweden 3-0 in Game No. 30 of the 12-day tournament.
Bruins teammate Loui Eriksson had his sights set on gold, but will still be coming back to Boston with the confidence of a silver medal playing for his country.
A day prior, Tuukka Rask had backstopped Finland to the bronze.
The trifecta also comes with Bruins coaching and management involved, as Head Coach Claude Julien spent the past week and a half behind the Team Canada bench, and General Manager Peter Chiarelli kept a close eye on the action with Canada's management team.
The crew they helped put together went undefeated in Sochi, proving dominant with their execution and two final defensive shutout performances en route to gold.
BostonBruins.com - By the time it turned midnight in Sochi on Saturday, Tuukka Rask had a bronze medal draped around his neck.
Backstopping Finland with 27 saves, Rask earned his first Olympic shutout in a 5-0 win over the United States in the bronze medal game.
It was an extension of what the Bruins netminder was able to provide his home country throughout the entire Olympics - and what he does every night in Black & Gold, when he's not donning his nation's blue - and that is a chance to win.
Rask finished the tournament with a .938 save percentage and 1.74 goals-against average through four games. The only loss came in overtime to Canada.
"You see him doing the same thing he does for us," said his Bruins teammate Adam McQuaid, prior the bronze medal game. "He's giving his team a chance to win every game, and in a short tournament like that - you get a hot goalie and you can good things, so no surprise to see him playing as well as he is, and we're all happy for him."
Rask helped Finland to an 8-4 win in his Olympic debut at the start of the Games, before Drew Doughty got one past him for Canada's 2-1 overtime win in the final preliminary round game.
BostonBruins.com - Though Bruins fans hail from all over, there is no doubt the strongest contingent in Boston's backyard.
Olympic hockey often pits Bruin against Bruin, but country against Bruin?
That was the case for many on Friday, as Team USA played against a Canadian team with Patrice Bergeron, along with Coach Claude Julien and General Manager Peter Chiarelli, in the semifinal.
The Bruins' alternate captain will now play for gold against Loui Eriksson and Team Sweden on Sunday, after Canada defeated the United States 1-0.
Sweden won the first semifinal, 2-1, over Finland. Rask did not suit up due to illness. Team USA will now face off against Rask's squad for the bronze on Saturday.
One Bruin will be bringing home gold, with the potential for all three to bring home a medal.
BostonBruins.com - Loui Eriksson will be playing for the gold medal, as Sweden defeated Finland 2-1 on Friday in Sochi.
Tuukka Rask was not between the pipes for Finland. The goaltender was out due to the flu and did not dress for the game. He reportedly played through symptoms in the quarterfinal against Russia, when he made 37 saves in the 3-1 win.
Kari Lehtonen found out about an hour before game time that he was getting the nod. Henrik Lundqvist minded the net at the other end.
Eriksson scored the game-tying goal for Sweden, putting up goals in back-to-back games at the tournament. Seemingly gaining more confidence each game, as Sweden has won five straight in Sochi, the Bruins winger continues to play in a top role for his country.
WILMINGTON, MA - When the Bruins reconvened for practice on Thursday morning at Ristuccia Arena amidst the Olympic Break, Adam McQuaid was back skating with the group.
Sidelined by a leg injury since January 19, the defenseman had missed the last nine games before the NHL's two-week hiatus.
Prior to the break, he had been working out and started skating, but wasn't yet ready for game action. On Thursday, he spent time with Strength and Conditioning Coach John Whitesides on the ice going through the motions, before joining his teammates for the full skate.
It's been a tough season health-wise for McQuaid, who has only suited up in 30 games (dropping the gloves in seven fights to go along with a goal and five assists). He's missed 26 games to various leg/lower-body injuries in stretches of eight or nine games.
"Obviously I missed some time again, and once again, hopefully can kind of ease our way back in here," McQuaid said, following his first practice back with the team since the injury that caused him to leave the Bruins' game in Chicago on January 19.
BostonBruins.com - It was 6:45 p.m. in Sochi, 4:45 p.m. in Finland and 9:45 a.m. in Boston.
But "Tuukka Time" has no geographical boundaries.
Tuukka Rask came out with a stone-cold performance on Wednesday, making 37 saves en route to Finland's 3-1 win over Russia in the quarterfinals, ending the home country's bid for the gold.
Finland will now face Sweden in the semifinals on Friday, February 21, with Rask pitted against Bruins teammate Loui Eriksson.
"Even though no one ever picks us to win medals, we always seem to find a way to get there," Rask told reporters in Sochi following the game.
Although the Finns have never won gold, Finland is coming off a bronze medal in 2010 in Vancouver and is the only country to win three total medals in the tournament since NHL players first began to suit up in the Olympics in 1998.