Bruins

Rask was Bruins "best player", steals a win from Devils

rask_bruinsdevils_1232018b.jpg

Rask was Bruins "best player", steals a win from Devils

BOSTON, Mass – There was a point much earlier in the season when it seemed that Tuukka Rask simply couldn’t win a game, and now it’s a reality that the Bruins No. 1 goaltender simply can’t lose. Rask stopped 37 shots including a show-stopping 20 saves in the first period en route to a Bruins 3-2 win over the New Jersey Devils at TD Garden on Tuesday night.

Rask extended his unbeaten streak to 17 games with a 15-0-2 record and truly helped the Black and Gold steal a game they probably didn’t deserve against a New Jersey team that was desperate for the two points. He was also at his best early and late with the 20 saves in the first period as the Bruins got their footing, and another 12 stops in the third period including a stone wall job on a Damon Severson breakaway while protecting a slim one-goal lead.

For a goalie that is often accused of not stealing enough games for his team, Rask was guilty of grand larceny hockey game vs. the Devils in the best way possible.

“I think the quality saves were more [happening] late [in the game]. I think early on there was a lot of volume of shots. I think their game plan was clearly to funnel everything to the net and see what happens. Sometimes you can’t let the shot clock dictate how you are playing because I thought we had some good looks from the slot,” said Bruce Cassidy. “They clearly had better puck possession than us, and that was the issue. Sooner or later when you start funneling pucks to the net, bad things happen for us…penalties, bounces, deflections, and that’s what happened, obviously, [on] their first goal. So that was a concern, but I thought Tuukka was our best player.”

Clearly Cassidy has a point as the Devils’ chances early were largely from the perimeter in the first period with the slot getting well protected by the Bruins defense, but they were much higher quality late in the game as things broke down a little bit. Either way Rask admitted he was pushed into battling a little bit more against the Devils based on the heavy traffic in front, and the odd angles that shots were coming at him fast and furiously.

“It’s tough, but you just try to stay compact and behind the puck. There were a lot of shots that they took from bad angles and I couldn’t control the rebounds,” admitted Rask. “It was just one of those nights that the puck doesn’t really stick to you as much as usual. You would like it to but then you just have to battle and make the rebound saves.

“Today, I think we had to defend a lot compared to the last few weeks but there were a lot of rebounds and they took care of them. I think we were really good at getting the puck out of our own zone, wheeling with the puck and finding the open guy with the breakout. The guys did a great job.”

Rask is also doing a good job with the .923 save percentage and 2.16 goals against average that continues to improve game after game, and more importantly the wins that keep stacking on top of each other for a goalie that’s answered the challenge from earlier in the season. 

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE

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

cp-morning-skate.jpg
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

bu-hockey-coach-david-quinn-beanpot.jpg
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.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON SCHEDULE