Bruins

B's continue to get 'stellar goaltending' as Rask keeps streaking

B's continue to get 'stellar goaltending' as Rask keeps streaking

BOSTON – One sure sign that a goaltender is going well is when he ends up winning epic duels between puck-stoppers. That’s just where Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask finds himself midway through the season.

Rask improved to a personal-best, 19-game point streak in Boston’s 3-1 win over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night. He stopped 32 shots while staring down Jake Allen performing his own miracles at the other end of the ice. The Bruins No. 1 goalie is 17-0-2 over those 19 games and is fourth-best all-time in point streaks for a B's goalie, behind only the legendary Gerry Cheevers (32 games in 1971-72), Pete Peeters (31 games in 1982-83) and Frank Brimsek (23 games in 1940-41).

Perhaps his best arrived in the third period when Rask kicked away a long point shot, and then managed to go post-to-post for the big glove save on Jaden Schwartz bearing down with a backhanded rebound attempt. It was still a one-goal game at that point, and even one fault in Rask’s game could have messed things up for the Black and Gold.

As he’s been for much of the past three months, Rask was up to the task.

“I think this team has always been confident in Tuukka, especially lately,” said Bruce Cassidy. “Those key saves late in the second period – I thought we did a really good job keeping it clean in front of him for the most part – but those were two big saves. He wanted to match the other guy because I thought the other guy…it was good goaltending tonight.

“I think any team will play better when they know their goaltender has their back, and Tuukka certainly had that, as well as Anton [Khudobin]. We talked about it. Anton has been very good for us, and we’ve been fortunate, for the last stretch since mid whatever it was…November, to have stellar goaltending.”

Certainly, the numbers back it up. The Bruins goalies are fifth in the NHL with a .918 save percentage this season and are currently the favorites to walk away with the Jennings Trophy at the end of the season with a 2.41 goals-against average. Clearly, the Bruins put forth one of their best efforts on Thursday night to respond to what the Blues brought to the table with a big, strong and heavy attack, but Rask was equally locked in while watching  Allen stop 43 of 45 shots at the other end of the ice.

“Allen played a great game, a lot of good saves that kept them in it. You just know when it’s a one-goal game you know at some point there’s going to be a chance, you try to make that save,” said Rask, who is tied for sixth in the NHL with a .924 save percentage and ranks third with a 2.12 GAA. “You know maybe today came in the third period and then after that, we extended the lead, and you just try to keep it tight at all times.

“A lot of it is team play like how your team plays in front of you. Lately, as goalies, we haven’t had to stand on our heads and play unbelievable games to keep us in it. Our team is playing great hockey offensively, defensively and all around. I think it helps everybody. Everybody feels more confident, and everybody is trying to pick each other up all the time. We’re no different.”

There’s no telling how long Rask can keep his point streak going with his strong play combined with a consistent 200-foot team in front of him, but it could be awhile given that he’s also well-rested because of how good Anton Khudobin was in the first half of the season. Things are lining up perfectly for Rask and the Bruins, so perhaps we’ll finally get to see just how good he can be as a No. 1 goalie at the time when the B's will really need him in the spring.

That being said, it was a playoff-style game vs. St. Louis on Thursday night and a playoff-style performance from Rask that should leave some enthusiasm for what’s in store a couple of months from now.  

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Morning skate: Why BU's Dave Quinn is leaving for the Rangers

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nbC Sports Boston Illustration

Morning skate: Why BU's Dave Quinn is leaving for the Rangers

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while not at all minding a Tampa/Vegas Stanley Cup Final, though I think Winnipeg still has a few cards up their sleeve to play.

*Boston University head hockey coach Dave Quinn will be the latest to jump from the college ranks to the NHL ranks as he’s headed to New York as the Rangers head coach. A tough call for Quinn, who could have stayed at BU as a lifetime gig, but the presence of people like Jeff Gorton and Chris Drury and the high-profile nature of the Rangers gig certainly must have made it too difficult to pass up. 

*Marian Hossa is sadly calling it a hockey career after a skin condition sidelined him a couple of years ago, and will be joining the Chicago Blackhawks organization. 

*Interesting Q&A with Vegas Golden Knights GM George McPhee about the Stanley Cup dreams in Vegas, and what it’s been like to watch the organization grow this season. 

*A brand new coach’s corner with Don Cherry talking about the importance of goaltending at this time of year with both Marc-Andre Fleury and Andrei Vasilevskiy standing out right now. 

*Ryan Callahan has inspired the Tampa Bay Lightning with his courageous play this season, and has certainly been a difference-maker on the fourth line for the Bolts. 

*Wondering what’s going on with the Philadelphia Flyers? Here’s a mailbag to keep you up to date with it all. 

Report: BU hockey coach Quinn to take Rangers job

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AP Photo

Report: BU hockey coach Quinn to take Rangers job

Boston University hockey coach David Quinn has agreed to a five-year, $12 million contract to become the New York Rangers coach, according to an ESPN report.

Quinn, 51, replaced college hockey legend Jack Parker at BU in 2013 and was 105-67-21 with the Terriers, reaching three NCAA regional finals with a runner-up finish for the national championship in 2015. Parker won 897 games in 40 years at BU, the third-most all-time and most for a coach at a single school.

Rangers assistant GM Chris Drury and veteran defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk played at BU. Elliotte Friedman of Hockey Night in Canada and Bob McKenzie of TSN had each tweeted that Quinn was the leading candidate to replace Alain Vigneault as Rangers coach. Vigneault was fired the day after the regular season ended. New York finished 34-39-9 and last in the Metropolitan Division. 

The Rangers traded away veterans, including winger Rick Nash to the Bruins, at the trade deadline as they fell out of the playoff race and will likely try to rebuild with younger players under Quinn.

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