BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins have maintained all along that Tuukka Rask was their No. 1 goaltender as the “goalie controversy” heated up the past few weeks. On Wednesday, they backed their words with their actions.
The embattled Rask will get the start on Wednesday night against the Atlantic Division-leading Lightning and it wouldn’t surprise to see him also start Saturday vs. the Flyers if he gets a good result against the Bolts.
Rask has routinely played well against both teams in the past and Bruce Cassidy said it was important to show faith in Rask as he works his way out of a funk that has seen him go 3-8-2 to start the season. The Bruins goalie certainly wasn’t bad in the loss to the Oilers on Sunday. He gave up three goals on 35 shots but his coach knows that there is also a much higher level for him to attain to match past performance.
So, Cassidy and the B’s are going against the active four-game winning streak for backup Anton Khudobin and are putting Rask back between the pipes again for his second consecutive start after sitting out four in a row.
“We’ve got to get Tuukka’s game to where each [goalie] is playing well, and the best way to do that is to get him starts...so he’ll get one tonight,” said Cassidy. Rask is 13-6-1 lifetime vs. Tampa Bay with four career shutouts. “I think we’ve played well in front of Tuukka a lot of nights, but the other night [vs. Edmonton] we weren’t good in terms of our jump and energy. We weren’t horrible defensively, but we didn’t have what it takes to pull away.
“[Against Edmonton], he was solid. On the first goal, he was off his angle, and the second one goes in off a foot and the third one was a good shot. So the first one was a stoppable puck, and like I’ve said with Tuukka I think it comes down to one save, or one goal [scored for the Bruins] at the other end. If [Frank] Vatrano scores late after some good work then maybe it goes a different way. Hopefully tonight he makes that extra save, or we have that extra goal.”
Clearly, Rask needs to make a bunch of extra saves given his .899 save percentage (good for 34th in the NHL) and 2.91 goals-against average (24th in the NHL) this season. That needs to start happening Wednesday night vs. Tampa Bay in a big spot.
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