Bruins

Bruins

TAMPA BAY – As one of his final regular season performances ahead of the playoffs, Tuukka Rask's performance in the Tuesday night loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning certainly wasn’t a reassuring one. 

The Bruins goaltender allowed four goals on 36 shots in the 4-0 loss at Amalie Arena. A couple of those goals were from long distance in the second period after he made 17 saves while under siege in the opening 20 minutes against the Bolts.

Clearly, it wasn’t all Rask’s fault as the Bruins didn’t come out ready to play in the first period and the offense couldn’t really hit the net with their chances in scoring position. Still, the goaltending was just as lackluster as the rest of the group.

“[Rask] has been better. I think he'd be the first to tell you that,” said Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy, who lamented that the B's couldn’t get another save or two in the second period when they appeared to be settling down defensively after a chaotic opening 20 minutes. “The first two goals were from distance. The second might have been through traffic, but the first one can't go in. Having said all of that, we didn’t score so it might not have mattered, honestly. But I don’t think [Rask] was as sharp as he’s been as of late.”

The goalie himself admitted that he “donated” the first goal on a long-distance shot from Brayden Point that seemed to dip in between Rask’s blocker and leg pads on the far side of the net. That’s not a good place to start in a game that was to effectively clinch the top spot in the Eastern Conference.

 

“It was a good workout, at least for me,” said Rask, when asked to describe the game afterward. “They got the better start. When you look at the score, 4-0, they were definitely the better team. I donate them a goal there [on the first Tampa score] and the first 30 minutes they were really on top of us. They were definitely the better team.

“Definitely in the first period, they came to play playoff hockey and we didn’t. Those things make a difference this time of year. When the other teams are putting everything on the line and you’re just kind of on your heels a little bit, it makes a difference. It just wasn’t our day today.”

The second goal was another long distance bomb from Victor Hedman that was perhaps a little tougher to stop with heavy traffic in front of the net. There was a lot going wrong in the D-zone leading up to Chris Kunitz’s third goal that truly put the game away. The bottom line for Rask and the Bruins is that their No. 1 puck-stopper had built up a pretty good feeling by going 9-0-1 with a .915 save percentage in March and effectively backstopping a B’s team trying to survive through a host of injuries.

When asked what Rask chalked Tuesday’s performance up to after such a good, solid stretch, the Bruins No. 1 goalie didn’t sound like somebody that was all that concerned.

“I don’t know...I thought I played pretty good,” said Rask. “Yeah...just keep going.”

The number and the eyeball test both fly in the face of the Bruins goalie being “pretty good” against the Lightning and that’s also two games in a row where the entire Bruins team looked a little tired, a little flat and clearly a little out of focus compared to most of the past four months.

Still, some of the same old questions about Rask in the big games also linger when he couldn’t elevate his performance with a lot on the line against Tampa Bay. Rask will perhaps get only one more start Thursday night against Florida to move forward into the playoffs on a confident, good note rather than the mediocre goaltending on display Tuesday night with the Atlantic Division on the line. 

Rask and the Bruins need to be much, much better if they hope to enjoy the long postseason run one would expect after such a promising, potential-filled regular season.

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