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.
Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while the Bruins are going into troll mode.
*Here is the aforementioned “troll mode” for the Bruins now that they’ve clinched a playoff berth. They came out with a marketing campaign where they’re dragging FOH (Friend of Haggs) Mike Felger for his early season take that the Bruins season is over. He also ripped the young players at the beginning of the year as well, so they used the sound from “Felger and Mazz” with video clips of David Pastrnak and Charlie McAvoy dominating for the Black and Gold, and shots of the young players mean mugging at the camera. It definitely shows that the Bruins perhaps care a little too much about what the media thinks about them, but it’s also a fair bit of clap-back toward a take that was a little too harsh on the B’s early in the season.
*What a great piece on the Stoneman Douglas hockey team as they embark on a national hockey tournament after winning at the state level in the weeks after the Parkland shooting.
*Chicago Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman says the Hawks aren’t shaken even as they’ll be missing the playoffs for the first time in a long time. What a disappointing season.
*Despite a great season, Taylor Hall may end up missing the playoffs with the New Jersey Devils amidst his Hart Trophy-type season.
*Good news for the Toronto Maple Leafs as Auston Matthews is returning from injury ahead of the playoffs.
*For something completely different: This new, updated version of the Karate Kid web series looks awesome with Billy Zabka and Ralph Macchio.
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 six points 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.