Haggerty: Tuukka Rask provides one ray of optimism from tough loss

Haggerty: Tuukka Rask provides one ray of optimism from tough loss

While there wasn’t a great deal to be ecstatic about in Monday night’s Boston Bruins loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs, the play of goalie Tuukka Rask was one of those things.

Rask stopped 25-of-27 shots in the 4-2 defeat and had the Bruins poised to at least get an overtime point with three minutes to go in the game. His best stop of the night was an athletic second period save on Matt Hunwick crashing the net unabated after a slick set up from Mitch Marner, but he was locked in tracking the puck and making every save that he could.

“He was excellent. You can’t fault our goaltending. He made the saves in the game and gave us a chance to win. So did their guy [Frederik Andersen],” B’s interim coach Bruce Cassidy said. “It was a great game until the penalty call, I thought. It was unfortunate we got no points out of it.”

Until a bogus interference call on Dominic Moore, that is, led to a power play goal and Boston’s ultimate downfall to the team chasing them in the Atlantic Division.

The feeling of points snatched away from them definitely played a part in Rask practically sprinting off the ice from the crease once the final buzzer sounded, and he was short and to the point with his words afterward.

“It was a good game. Obviously they needed it and we needed that win, and it was one of those things where it was a one-goal game. It wasn’t a game where one team was on top of the other getting all the chances,” said Rask, who is expected to play on Tuesday night vs. the Senators as well in the second half of the crunch time divisional back-to-back. “They end up getting that power play and it is what it is. You can’t help that now.”

The Monday night performance was encouraging for both the Bruins and for Rask, who is 3-4-0 with a 2.68 goals against average and a .904 save percentage during the month of March at a time when the B’s need his best for the rest of the season. 

Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

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Talking points: Ryan Donato's goal helps Bruins clinch playoff berth

GOLD STAR: Jaden Schwartz stepped up and won the game for the Blues with a couple of really good plays in the third period and overtime. He took advantage of a line change and a lax Bruins defense to snap a shot past Anton Khudobin from the face-off circle in the third period that tied up the game, and then went on a one-man rush in overtime before blasting a puck past Khudobin for the game-winner on a beautiful individual play. Schwartz finished with the two goals that represented all of the St. Louis offense, four shots on net, a hit and a takeaway in 20:02 of ice time while logging a plus-2 rating as well. The Blues clearly needed somebody to step up to the plate with Vladimir Tarasenko and the Schwartz was with St. Louis on Wednesday night.

BLACK EYE: The Bruins were quite literally black and blue after a physical, punishing game with the St. Louis Blues. A number of players took heavy hits against a St. Louis team that felt free to throw hits and take runs with Zdeno Chara and David Backes out of Boston’s lineup among other players, and that culminated with Brayden Schenn drilling David Krejci in the second period. It was a hit that earned Schenn a two minute penalty for charging midway through the period, but shouldn’t result in anything more for the Blues forward. The hit wasn’t late, his skates were on the ice when he made contact, and Krejci was crouched down when Schenn made impact on a heavy check with his elbows tucked in, so it looked like a relatively clean hit that isn’t going to be on the radar of the NHL’s Player Safety Department. That physicality for the Blues really seemed to slow down the Bruins a little bit as things went on over the 60 plus minutes of the overtime game.


TURNING POINT: The Bruins actually only got outshot by a 15-13 margin in the second period, third period and overtime, but it was clear that they slowed down in terms of attacking and creating chances as things moved on in the game. By the latter half of the game the Bruins were simply trying to hang on to their one-goal lead, and then after that simply trying to hang in there for the point earned by getting to overtime. They managed to do it, but it was a different wave of momentum in the game once the Blues tied things up in the third period on Schwartz’s first goal. After that the Bruins were scrambling and hanging on, and did just enough to hang in there for a single overtime point for the second game in a row.

HONORABLE MENTION: Ryan Donato made it two goals in two games when he stepped into a loose puck created by an Alex Pietrangelo turnover that bounced off referee Brad Watson after he attempted to throw a puck up the middle of the ice. Donato pounced on the fortuitous bounce and rocked a puck on edge past Jake Allen for the game’s first goal and another affirmation that the 21-year-old can both shoot and score. Donato was pretty quiet after that goal, of course, with a couple of shots on net, but it seemed like a big, heavy hit on him by Dmitri Jaskin in the second period kind of quieted the youngster down a little bit. Still, you’ve got to love the production from a player just getting his feet wet at the NHL level.

BY THE NUMBERS: 100 – The number of points for the Bruins after falling in overtime by a 2-1 score to the Blues, and in getting to the century mark the B’s clinched a playoff spot for the second season in a row.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “It’s step one. Going into the season we wanted to make the playoffs and be a Stanley Cup contender. Right now we got in and we’re going to be a contender, right? Now it’s about being in the best position possible going forward.” –Bruce Cassidy, to reporters in St. Louis about clinching the playoff spot on Wednesday night.


Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

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Bruins celebrate playoff berth with hilarious video about fans

With a playoff berth in-hand, the Boston Bruins celebrated on Instagram with a playful video about their fans.

The short video put their fans into categories: the hugger, the faithful, the screamer, the loose cannon, the comfortable commentator and the emotional trainwreck.

No matter how the devotees enjoy Bruins games, they can all unit over their hockey team. Here's the vide for your enjoyment.

It's playoff time. Diehards unite. #InOurBlood

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