Direct connection between less-than-perfect Rask and B's loss


Direct connection between less-than-perfect Rask and B's loss

BOSTON -- When Tuukka Rask plays at an elite Superman level then the Bruins win hockey games.

When the Finnish netminder is more of the mild-mannered, Clark Kent-level of goaltender then the flawed B’s don’t have much chance to come away victorious.

That was the case in Saturday night’s 5-2 loss to the New York Rangers at TD Garden with Rask surrendering a couple of soft, preventable goals, and in sum total allowing a season-high five goals to the highest scoring team in the NHL. Afterward Rask lamented some of the odd-man rushes the Bruins surrendered to the speedy Rangers that ended up in the back of their net, and the soft-ish goals he couldn’t stop once New York really seized the momentum in the game’s final 40 minutes.

“It’s difficult, but I just try to stay patient. When the pucks start going through you, you’d kind of like to have those back. But that’s hockey and it happens sometimes, I got off bad in the first period. We started good. I made some saves, felt good, and then [some] tough bounces on a couple goals and it’s two-one, and we never could recover from that,” said Rask, who suffered his first loss of the season at 6-1-0 with a 1.98 goals against average and .932 save percentage that still have him around the top-5 in both categories. “It’s kind of tough but that’s how it goes.

“I felt good in the first. No rebounds. And then, the first goal, it is what it is. Then the second, off the guy’s shin pads, it’s something you can’t really control. Then the 3-1 goal, it’s just a five-hole so kind of a bad goal. Then the last one, [it was] obviously a bad goal, so that’s about it. When you let in a couple bad ones and mix in a couple lucky ones, it gets ugly. That’s what happened tonight.”

The first goal allowed was on David Krejci, who attempted to catch a Nick Holden point shot, and screened Rask in the process before missing the gloved stab attempt to stop the wobbly wrist shot. The second New York score was a bad bounce off Derek Stepan’s skate after Tuukka Rask had made the initial 2-on-1 save, so the Bruins goalie was still in decent shape after the first 20 minutes in a one-goal game.

But the floodgates opened after that as the Rangers kept coming in speedy, skilled waves: a shorthanded Kevin Hayes bid on a 3-on-1 went right through the five-hole for Rask as he looked to be playing pass rather than shot, and Michael Grabner cleanly beat Rask for the fifth and final score on a roofed wrist shot that the Bruins goalie would clearly like to have back.

While Rask wasn’t nearly as sharp as he had been through the season’s first six games, a special teams unit that allowed one Rangers power play goal, and a couple of shorthanded scores as well, was clearly worthy of the biggest slice of B’s blame pie.

But Rask wasn’t dominant behind a Bruins special teams group that experienced some very shaky moments and a defensive group that was tested early and often 5-on-5 by the explosive Rangers as well. To make matters worse: it looked like the Finnish goalie again aggravated his chronic lower body injury when he stretched out into full butterfly during the second period to stop a Brandon Pirri backhanded bid right in front of the net. Rask didn’t miss any time and waved off the Bruins training staff immediately afterward, but it appeared exactly like the same buckling under following full extension that he suffered in both the Columbus and New Jersey games earlier this season.

Rask gingerly picking himself up off the ice afterward and stretched out a bit during the following TV timeout, but didn’t have any other noticeable problems through the rest of the 19-save loss.

Rask spoke to reporters following the defeat and didn’t seem any worse for the wear at that point, so there’s no way of knowing if he truly tweaked the injury given that the Bruins cancelled their scheduled Sunday practice at Warrior Ice Arena.

But it bears watching with Rask moving forward given how important his dominance is to Boston’s fortunes this season, and the nagging feeling that he might be playing through something that might not fully go away anytime soon. 

Cassidy eyeing possible Bergeron return this weekend

File Photo

Cassidy eyeing possible Bergeron return this weekend

Bruins star center Patrice Bergeron has been dealing with a fractured foot injury since late February. He sustained the injury while blocking a shot in the loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Coach Bruce Cassidy is predicting a return for Bergeron this weekend against the Minnesota Wild if he is medically cleared. He will be evaluated tomorrow.

Depending on the results from the evaluation, there might not even be a need to rush Bergeron back with the Bruins clinching a playoff berth in a 2-1 OT loss to the Blues yesterday evening.

MORE BRUINS: Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues​

The Bruins currently sit two games behind the Tampa Bay Lighting for first place in the Atlantic Division. Ten games currently remain on the B’s schedule with the Presidents' Trophy also hanging in the balance.

If the B’s decide to make a run for the Presidents' Trophy, Bergeron would definitely provide a boost in play in addition to leadership for the final stretch of the regular season.


Now that they're officially in, Bruins need to get healthy

Now that they're officially in, Bruins need to get healthy

Here’s what we learned from the Bruins' 2-1 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues on Wednesday night at the Scottrade Center:

1) This team is now bona-fide playoff material. 

We knew this was coming for months after the Black and Gold went on an epic three-month hot streak that catapulted them to second place in the Atlantic Division and within a couple of wins of catching the Tampa Bay Lightning. Now that the Bruins have hit the 100-point mark and clinched the playoffs with the overtime point they got Wednesday, it’s now going to be about positioning for the postseason. That means giving all their injured players ample time to heal and be as close to 100 percent as possible and perhaps even eventually giving up on catching the Lighting for the No. 1 overall seed if it means sacrificing anything for full readiness in the postseason. But that’s a story for the first few weeks of April. On this Thursday, let’s just appreciate a Bruins team that’s clinched a playoff berth weeks ahead of time and is considered one of the odds-on favorites to go on a run this spring. Whether it’s fighting through the adversity of  injuries, getting major contributions from perhaps the best rookie class in the history of the Black and Gold or showing the heart of a champion in many, many memorable comeback wins, the Bruins have shown an “aura of greatness” this season. Not the greatness that comes along with being a longstanding dynasty, but the greatness that comes along with the promise they hold for doing great things in the Stanley Cup playoffs. This Bruins team is worth your time and interest and could very well produce the best sports experience for a Boston fan this spring. All of those bode very well for where the Bruins are headed.

2) How about that Ryan Donato? 

Two goals in two games is pretty darned good for the 21-year-old and he once again showed his nose for the net and his excellent shot while burying a puck on edge in the slot area thanks to a bad decision Alex Pietrangelo. All that being said, Donato was very quiet after that point in a heavy, physical game and didn’t do much after Dmitri Jaskin blasted him into the side boards in the second period. Clearly, Donato is courageous for a young guy and has the willingness to go to the scoring areas, but it will be instructive to see how he responds to the heavy, hard-hitting treatment he’s going to get in the NHL. As he scores and gets notoriety, there is going to be more punishment and hard hits thrown his way and it’s going to be up to him to adjust and continue to be as effective. Donato will get that chance, but he now knows it’s not going to be as easy as it looked on that first night at the Garden.

3) The Bruins could use some good health soon.

With Zdeno Chara, Charlie McAvoy, David Backes and Rick Nash among others missing from the lineup, the Bruins become a much smaller, weaker team that’s increasingly easy to pick on. That’s exactly what the Blues did after falling behind early. There were heavy St. Louis hits thrown all over the ice, including the culmination when Brayden Schenn drilled David Krejci in the corner of the rink. The Bruins never really responded to any of it and instead just kept taking hits and eventually got totally worn down in the third period and overtime when they were just hanging on for their playoff point. Certainly, they can survive in games here or there playing that way, but more Bruins are going to get hurt if opponents are allowed to simply tee off on them as they did on Wednesday night. That won’t be good for anybody associated with the Black and Gold.


*Anton Khudobin was blaming himself for the two goals allowed after the game was over, but the truth is that the Bruins wouldn’t have even got their playoff-clinching point if Khudobin hadn’t stopped a Dmitri Jaskin shot with his goalie mask in the closing seconds. Khudobin was the losing goalie, but he made the big save when the Bruins needed him on Thursday night.

*Donato scored the only goal of the night for the Bruins on a loose puck in the slot that was on edge. He now has two goals and
four points in his first two NHL games. Donato was pretty quiet after that, but how much can you really expect out of the 21-year-old at this point?

*All of the St. Louis offense was supplied by Jaden Schwartz, who beat the Bruins with a wrist shot from the top of the face-off circle in the third period and then went on a breathtaking one-man rush in OT for the game-winner. Schwartz stepped up with Vladimir Tarasenko down and injured right now.


*One shot on net for David Pastrnak in 20-plus minutes. He did alter the path of the Alex Pietrangelo clearing attempt that turned into Ryan Donato’s goal, but was otherwise quiet in a very physical game.

*Nick Holden played almost 25 minutes of ice time and blocked four shots in the absence of Boston’s top three defensemen and was, by and
large, pretty good throughout the game. But he did back off and give Schwartz way too much room to work with on the tying goal. It was also a tough line change as well, but somebody needs to step up and slow down the Blues there.

*Danton Heinen was called for slashing in the second period on a play that was literally a one-handed tap with the stick on a completely
inconsequential play. The NHL really needs to take a chill pill with these slashing calls. That one was bogus.