Bruins

Rask on Game 5 loss: 'I could've stopped more pucks with my eyes closed'

Rask on Game 5 loss: 'I could've stopped more pucks with my eyes closed'

BOSTON -- It may not have been quite as bad as Tuukka Rask made it out to be, but the Bruins goaltender knew he wasn’t good enough in Game 5.

Rask allowed four goals on 13 shots before being yanked in favor of Anton Khudobin as the Bruins fell behind 4-1 in what wound up being a 4-3 loss Saturday night at TD Garden, sending the Stanley Cup playoff series back to Toronto for Game 6 on Monday. He was badly outplayed by Maple Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, who made 42 strong, clutch saves at the other end of the ice.

The Bruins entered the game with a 3-1 series lead and a chance to close out the Leafs, but the players in front of Rask weren’t much better, getting off to a sluggish start in the first period that ultimately doomed them despite a massive third-period push. Still, it was the goalie who faced the music most directly after the defeat.

For someone who's noticeably sidestepped personal responsibility for goals allowed at times in his career, Rask, the last Bruins player to speak to the media after the game, took it all on his shoulders.

It was pointed self-criticism and a real show of leadership and accountability from Rask, who clearly wasn’t okay with the way he played.

LEAFS 4, BRUINS 3

“I probably could’ve stopped more pucks with my eyes closed," he said. "That’s about it. It’s on me . . . 

“I felt good [going into the game]. Sometimes you track pucks better than other days. Today, as you can probably tell, I wasn’t tracking the puck very well and it happens sometimes."

He didn't get a lot of help; the Bruins allowed a couple of goals in close to the Boston net in a sleepy first period. But it was the second period where things really fell apart .

David Backes scored a power-play goal that cut Toronto’s lead to 2-1 and got the fans back into the game. Then both the Bruins and Rask faltered in the next minute.

A bit of a sloppy line change and some poor coverage on a transition play gave speedy Tyler Bozak a quality chance, and the Toronto forward managed to beat Rask one-on-one. It completely wiped out the momentum Boston had been generating leading up to its first goal, and it sucked the energy right out of the building.

That goal, scored 51 seconds after Backes had put the B's on the board, was on Rask, and it was a big part of what led coach Bruce Cassidy to pull him when he allowed a power-play goal to James van Riemsdyk just 1:19 later.

“I didn’t think [Rask] had it tonight, so we went with Anton," said Cassidy. "And then there’s always [the fact that a goalie change] gets the rest of the team’s attention, as well. So, it’s both [things].

“I don’t want to measure, or quantify what percentage of each, but clearly if I thought he was on then he wouldn’t have got pulled. I guess I’ll put it that way.”

DJ BEAN

Rask’s save percentage for the series against the Leafs dropped to a “meh” .904 after the Game 5 debacle, and it was -- unfortunately -- right on the heels of a magnificent 31-save effort in Boston’s big Game 4 road win in Toronto. That was a big performance, in which Rask was justifiably prasied for coming through in a key playoff moment, but just 48 hours later he was fitting himself for goat horns.

That’s the life of a goalie in the playoffs.

“Yeah, that’s the way it is," he said. "You play good, you kind of put it behind you; you play bad, you put it behind you. You just stay even no matter what happens."

He's clearly ready to put Saturday behind him.

"[We’re] moving on to the next one and we’ll finish it out in Toronto,” said Rask.

And as for Saturday?

"That’s hockey. Sometimes you’re awesome, sometimes you’re not.”

In Game 5, Rask was not. Now he and the Bruins will get two more cracks at reversing that in a best-of-seven series where they still have the upper hand, even after Saturday's big miss.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Countdown to Bruins training camp: Peter Cehlarik

Countdown to Bruins training camp: Peter Cehlarik

From now until the beginning of training camp, Bruins Insider Joe Haggerty is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2018-19 Bruins. Today: Peter Cehlarik.

While the numbers aren’t gaudy for the 23-year-old Cehlarik during his first two pro seasons for the Bruins organization, the Slovakian-born winger has shown some pretty high-end talent in flashes during his brief stints in Boston. Perhaps most importantly Cehlarik brings a different element than many of the other young Bruins wingers as he has the size at 6-foot-2, 202-pounds and plays with a little more size, strength and puck possession than many of his winger peers. The former third-round pick isn’t at the top of the B’s prospect list, but he’s a player that could surprise in training camp as a top-6 forward candidate if given a chance to really pop. 

What Happened Last Year: It was a frustrating season for the talented Cehlarik to be sure as he suited up for just 41 games between Boston and Providence, and battled injuries just as he was beginning to get things going at the NHL level. Shortly after scoring his first career NHL goal in Boston, Cehlarik suffered a leg injury that wiped him out for a month and relegated him back to the AHL ranks once he was healthy enough to return to game action. Once back in Providence Cehlarik also went through the worst dry spell of his pro career as he endured a full month without a goal. The big winger finished with 11 goals and 23 points in 35 games for the P-Bruins and regained his offensive groove in the second half of the AHL season, so there’s still plenty of optimism about his offensive game after putting up 31 goals in Providence over the past two seasons.  

Questions To Be Answered This Season: Cehlarik had a slow start to training camp after coming off shoulder surgery a summer ago, and the 6-foot-2, 202-pounder missed a big chunk of time in the middle of the season due to a leg injury suffered in Boston. So the biggest question about the big-bodied winger is whether he can stay healthy enough to stick on the ice for a full season and show what he can do with his skills and talent. Cehlarik stayed on the ice long enough to suit up for 49 games with the P-Bruins two seasons ago and posted a 20-goal season in Providence, but he yet again battled through some injury issues in that first North American season as well. So the biggest single question Cehlarik will face is his ability to remain healthy in order to see how good he can be at the NHL level. The talent is there and Cehlarik has some things (puck possession, finishing ability around the net) that could translate very well at the NHL level, but he needs to stay on the ice to prove it.  

In Their Words: “He has the hockey IQ and the hands, big enough body guy. You just don’t know when they come up – if they can handle the pace, the pressure, time and space issues.” –Bruce Cassidy, on Cehlarik.  

Overall Outlook: The 23-year-old Cehlarik isn’t the flashiest prospect or the young winger with the most buzz behind him, but he should very much be in the mix for a winger spot on the NHL roster along with other young players. Cehlarik is bigger and stronger than most of his B’s prospect peers and can play a little more of a puck possession game to go along with the offense, so there are some areas where he could really fit a need for the Black and Gold. But it goes without saying that Cehlarik is going to need to remain healthy to make that happen, and he’s going to need a dominant training camp in order to secure a key spot on Boston’s roster. He showed last year during a brief mid-season stint with Boston that he’s capable of playing with David Krejci, and showed that he can provide some offense in that kind of a spot. This time around is much more of a make-or-break chance for Cehlarik after banking experience in each of the last two seasons, but the opportunities will definitely be there for him with all things being equal. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

Morning Skate: Try to keep up with Chara's offseason workout

Morning Skate: Try to keep up with Chara's offseason workout

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while watching Captain America’s entrance to Avengers: Infinity War on a 24/7 loop. It’s just that good.

*Cool Instagram video from Zdeno Chara that shows a peek behind the curtain of his offseason workout with crazy strength, balance and conditioning drills for a 6-foot-9 man on the wrong side of 40. It’s no wonder he’s a physical marvel still at his advanced age, and that the end of his Hall of Fame career doesn’t look like it’s coming anytime soon. Chara may be older, he may no longer be a viable Norris Trophy candidate and his body may be starting to break down just a little bit more given his age, but the man is a true freak of nature with his strength, size and conditioning. There are no two ways about that.

*Ryan Ellis has signed a long-term extension with the Nashville Predators for a cap friendly number as the Preds continue to build and sustain a long-term winner.

*Interesting piece on Buffalo Sabres head coach Phil Housley’s wife, Karin, running for a Senate seat in Minnesota.

*Pro Hockey Talk says that Ilya Kovalchuk is under pressure as he begins a big three-year contract with the Los Angeles Kings.

*Boy, it sure sounds like the Arizona Coyotes are in a heap of financial trouble as their fiscal losses continue to mount.

*For something completely different: Pretty interesting interview with Michelle MacLaren, the director from this week’s "Better Call Saul" that gives some good insight into the characters on the show, and the exciting direction its headed toward Breaking Bad-ville.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE