Haggerty: Bruins need to sit Rask vs. Canadiens

Haggerty: Bruins need to sit Rask vs. Canadiens

BOSTON -- Tuukka Rask continues to put together arguably the best start of his Bruins career, and is doing it while continuously playing through pain and discomfort.

The Bruins goaltender stopped 32 shots in a 4-0 shutout win over the Buffalo Sabres, and moved into sole possession of third place all-time on the B’s franchise shutout with the 32nd shutout of his Black and Gold career. The B’s No. 1 goaltender is off to the hottest start of his career, and naturally just wants to keep it going behind a Bruins team that needs him to be dominant every single night.

“If you look at the stats probably, it’s got to be one of the best starts [of my career]. Usually I think the starts are the worst part of my season,” said a chuckling Rask. “That’s at least something I can look back at the year-end meeting and say I was good at.”

Unfortunately for Rask and the Bruins, the 29-year-old also showed signs that a lower body injury continues to dog him as he shoulders a heavy burden for his hockey club with Anton Khudobin still out of commission.

Rask made a couple of stellar saves in the first couple of periods with the game still hanging in the balance, including a post-to-post stop on Kyle Okposo after a cross-ice pass from Ryan O’Reilly and a second period sprawling stop on Brian Gionta on a shorthanded breakaway chance. Immediately after the Gionta save Rask slammed his stick down to the ice, and confirmed to that it was out of frustration at the twinges of pain he felt while making the butterfly stop.

It would be wise for the Bruins to avoid any temptation to play the Finnish netminder against Montreal on Tuesday night in the second half of back-to-back games, but Rask said he was willing to do whatever the team needs with the goalie situation still in flux.

“It’s tough. It’s still early in the season and you definitely don’t want to burn yourself out,” said Rask, who is 7-1-0 with a 1.74 goals against average and .941 save percentage while essentially carrying the Bruins to a winning record. “Obviously with Dobby [Anton Khudobin] being hurt too, I realize I might need to play more than planned and I’m fine with that. I’m sure there’s going to be a time to get some rest.

“It’s not my [decision on whether to play vs. Montreal]. It’s one of those games I don’t think any player really wants to miss because it’s a big rivalry, and they’re a great team. I definitely don’t want to miss that but we’ll see.”

There’s a ridiculous notion among some pockets of Bruins fans that Rask is looking to duck the Canadiens given his struggles vs. Montreal (5-15-3 with a 2.69 GAA and a .910 save percentage in 24 career games vs. the Habs) throughout his career, and Boston’s No. 1 goaltender will have missed the Habs twice already this season if rookie Zane McIntyre gets the call at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night.

But that’s the right call given that Rask is playing through a lower body injury that keeps tweaking him right now, and that the Bruins need him to remain healthy enough to play rather than risking a greater injury for some kind of short term result against the hated Habs. With Monday night as the start of five games played in seven days, the Bruins and Rask need to be smart about his usage with an eye toward winning the war for the Black and Gold rather than the seasonal battle against their biggest divisional rivals off to a great start this season. 

Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues

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Bruins clinch playoff berth in 2-1 OT loss to Blues

Jaden Schwartz scored his second goal of the game 30 seconds into overtime to give the St. Louis Blues a 2-1 victory over the Boston Bruins on Wednesday night.

Schwartz skated up the middle and fired a shot past Anton Khudobin. The Blues won for the fifth time in six games to move within a point of the final Western Conference wild-card spot.

Jake Allen made 21 saves to improve to 24-21-2.

Ryan Donato scored for Boston. The Bruins clinched a playoff spot and moved within four points of Tampa Bay for the Eastern lead.

Schwartz tied it midway through the third period with a wrist shot from the top of the circle.

Donato scored his second goal in his second NHL game. He had a goal and two assists in a 5-4 loss to Columbus on Monday night.

Donato, still a student at Harvard University, returned to Massachusetts on Tuesday to attend class before flying back to St. Louis to rejoin the Bruins. His father, Ted, played 528 games in two stints with the Bruins (1992-99, 2003-04).

Donato, who played for the U.S. Olympic team last month, drilled a shot past Allen. A clearing attempt by Alex Piertrangelo hit referee Brad Watson and the pick bounced right to Donato.

Boston, which has a game in hand on Tampa Bay, joined Nashville and Tampa Bay as only teams to have clinched playoff spots.


Boston was without seven key players:- C Patrice Bergeron (fractured left foot), D Charlie McAvoy (left knee), D Zdeno Chara (upper body), LW Jake DeBrusk (upper body), RW David Backes (right leg laceration), D Torey Krug (upper body) and LW Rick Nash (upper body). They have combined for 101 goals and 161 assists.

NOTES:- St. Louis RW Vladimir Tarasenko missed his second successive game after taking an elbow to the face against the New York Rangers on Saturday. ... The Bruins have least one point in 12 of their last 15 games against St. Louis. ... Only three Boston players - RW David Pastrnak, C Tim Schaller and C Sean Kuraly - have played in every game this season.


Bruins: At Dallas on Friday night in the second game of a four-game trip.

Blues: Host Vancouver on Friday night.

Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

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Krug steps up as Bruins stars go down

The Bruins have managed to take three of a possible six points since Zdeno Chara went down in the third period of last week's comeback win over the Carolina Hurricanes, and they've done it completely without their top pairing since Charlie McAvoy has also been out all this time.

There are a number of factors behind the ability to withstand the injuries, of course, and the entire defense corps was stellar at both ends in the shutout win over Tampa Bay last weekend.


But it's Torey Krug who's really stepped up his game. He had three assists and 15 shots on net in those three games, and was immense in the win over the Lightning.

Krug has surpassed the 50-point plateau for the second straight season, a major accomplishment for a defenseman who prides himself on his puck-moving and power-play work.

"You know, he has [stepped up]," coach Bruce Cassidy said of Krug, adding: "Torey is always going to get his numbers, but he's really added to it 5-on-5 . . . [It] was comforting to see that [without Chara and McAvoy] we shut out one of the best teams [in the NHL], at home, that was rested. You've got to take something out of that. It was one of 82 [games], but that was a real positive for our guys."

For Krug, the challenge of stepping up and being a leader in the team's time of need is the kind of thing he takes pride in responding to with an elevated level of play.

"I'm in the business of winning hockey games and helping my team win," said Krug. "It falls on my shoulders to produce some offense from the back end. And [when] we're missing a couple of guys from the back end that do that push the pace, then you've got to step up and make some plays. When you play with a lot of great players then you'll get your points, and you just need to worry about the defensive zone first.

"We're confident in everybody in this room. A lot of people think that the guys on our back end can't get the job done, so for us to step up [is a good thing]."


The biggest sign of Krug's increased responsibility? He topped 26 minutes of ice time in two of the three games since Chara was injured. Only once before, when he was on the ice for 27-plus minutes against the Rangers in early November, has he played more than that.

The loss of Chara and McAvoy has forced Krug to go above and beyond his normal range of duties and he's stepped up and embraced it. That's what good players on good teams do, and it's something Krug has consistently done in the big moments since arriving in Boston five years ago.