Bruins

Morning Skate: Dogs, cats, wasps and Tuukka

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Morning Skate: Dogs, cats, wasps and Tuukka

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while somberly remembering the young victims of Sandy Hook five years ago today. It’s one of the worst days this country has ever seen, and not enough has been done by our lawmakers to prevent it from happening again.

*Relaxed, fun interview between Tuukka Rask and Jeremy Roenick where Tuukka talks about the special kind of wasp that was named after him.

*Alex DeBrincat continues to tear it up for the Chicago Blackhawks and reward the organization for them taking a risk on him in the 2016 draft.

*Frederik Andersen is headed toward one of the busiest seasons ever for an NHL goalie, but his body is prepared for the workload in Toronto.

*Chris Neil is calling it a career for the Ottawa Senators at the end of a rugged, blue-collar career where he was always a tough customer.

*The stone cold reaction to winning a brand new car was perfect for this Vancouver Canucks fan after an on-ice contest.

*Kudos to FOH (Friend of Haggs) Greg Wyshynski for this week’s power rankings with a Star Wars theme, which include the Bruins as Admiral Ackbar. Some of these are a stretch, but still very much in good fun and strong in the Force.

*For something completely different: "Deadpool "will remain an R-rated entity even under Disney ownership and control. Good news! Really interested to see what this merger will mean for the "X-Men" and "Fantastic Four "in the MCU.


 

Rask was Bruins "best player", steals a win from Devils

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Rask was Bruins "best player", steals a win from Devils

BOSTON, Mass – There was a point much earlier in the season when it seemed that Tuukka Rask simply couldn’t win a game, and now it’s a reality that the Bruins No. 1 goaltender simply can’t lose. Rask stopped 37 shots including a show-stopping 20 saves in the first period en route to a Bruins 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

Rask extended his unbeaten streak to 17 games with a 15-0-2 record and truly helped the Black and Gold steal a game they probably didn’t deserve against a New Jersey team that was desperate for the two points. He was also at his best early and late with the 20 saves in the first period as the Bruins got their footing, and another 12 stops in the third period including a stone wall job on a Damon Severson breakaway while protecting a slim one-goal lead.

For a goalie that is often accused of not stealing enough games for his team, Rask was guilty of grand larceny hockey game vs. the Devils in the best way possible.

“I think the quality saves were more [happening] late [in the game]. I think early on there was a lot of volume of shots. I think their game plan was clearly to funnel everything to the net and see what happens. Sometimes you can’t let the shot clock dictate how you are playing because I thought we had some good looks from the slot,” said Bruce Cassidy. “They clearly had better puck possession than us, and that was the issue. Sooner or later when you start funneling pucks to the net, bad things happen for us…penalties, bounces, deflections, and that’s what happened, obviously, [on] their first goal. So that was a concern, but I thought Tuukka was our best player.”

Clearly Cassidy has a point as the Devils’ chances early were largely from the perimeter in the first period with the slot getting well protected by the Bruins defense, but they were much higher quality late in the game as things broke down a little bit. Either way Rask admitted he was pushed into battling a little bit more against the Devils based on the heavy traffic in front, and the odd angles that shots were coming at him fast and furiously.

“It’s tough, but you just try to stay compact and behind the puck. There were a lot of shots that they took from bad angles and I couldn’t control the rebounds,” admitted Rask. “It was just one of those nights that the puck doesn’t really stick to you as much as usual. You would like it to but then you just have to battle and make the rebound saves.

“Today, I think we had to defend a lot compared to the last few weeks but there were a lot of rebounds and they took care of them. I think we were really good at getting the puck out of our own zone, wheeling with the puck and finding the open guy with the breakout. The guys did a great job.”

Rask is also doing a good job with the .923 save percentage and 2.16 goals against average that continues to improve game after game, and more importantly the wins that keep stacking on top of each other for a goalie that’s answered the challenge from earlier in the season. 

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Talking Points: Tuukka continues to be a brick wall

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Talking Points: Tuukka continues to be a brick wall

GOLD STAR: Tuukka Rask has been on a hell of a run with a 15-0-2 record over his last 17 games, and the latest was also one of his best. Rask stopped 20 shots in the first period as the Bruins really didn’t have their best legs, and then he made some of his best saves in the third period protecting a one goal lead, including a stop on a Damon Severson breakaway late in the game. In all Rask stopped 37-of-39 shots and really became a Finnish brick wall whenever the Devils began ratcheting up the attack in a game where the Bruins clearly weren’t at their best. Rask hasn’t been quite as dominant in the month of January with a .913 save percentage for the month even after his stellar work against New Jersey, but he’s going into the All-Star break playing some of his best hockey.

BLACK EYE: Jesper Bratt has been pretty strong for the Devils as a rookie this season, but he did not have a very good game for New Jersey this time around. Bratt finished with a minus-2 in 14:59 of ice time and had zero shots on net as the Devils fired 39 total shots at Tuukka Rask. Bratt certainly wasn’t alone in having a subpar game for New Jersey, but it’s expected that players like him would need to step up with Taylor Hall injured and out of the lineup. It didn’t happen for Bratt and the Devils on Tuesday, and subsequently New Jersey skates out of Boston empty-handed after starting the game like a hockey house of fire.

TURNING POINT: The turning point for the Bruins was getting a 5-on-3 power play after Miles Wood had a meltdown and took two separate penalties for cross-checking and interference on a retaliatory hit on Riley Nash. That landed Wood in the box for four minutes and Marcus Johansson followed right afterward with a tripping call. The Bruins subsequently enjoyed two minutes of 5-on-3 hockey and Patrice Bergeron cashed in on a goal that tied the game in the second period. It immediately ushered in a 13-minute delay as the TD Garden scoreboard went haywire, and the Bruins never trailed again in the rest of the game. It was a true moment where the Bruins had a chance to forcefully seize control of the game, and that’s exactly what they did.  

HONORABLE MENTION: Brad Marchand wasn’t at his best, but he factored into the game on many different levels while also notching the game-winner for the Bruins. It was his breakaway in the second period where he completely deked out Cory Schneider and then flipped a puck over him for the slick, easy-looking score for his team-leading 21st goal of the season. Marchand finished with a goal, two points and four shots on net in 20:06 of ice time, and had a couple of takeaways along the way as well. Unfortunately Marchand also caught Marcus Johansson with an elbow in the third period that went uncalled on the ice, but could end up resulting in supplementary discipline with the league.

BY THE NUMBERS: 13-0-4 – the Bruins record during their 17-game point streak that dates all the way back to their last regulation loss on Dec. 14, and is tied for the third-longest stretch in team history along with 17-gamers in 1929-30, 1977-78 and 1982-83.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “I thought Tuukka was our best player.” –Bruce Cassidy, on his goalie making 37 saves in the 3-2 win for the Black and Gold. 

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