Rask's teammates giving the red-hot goalie the silent treatment: 'I don't even talk to the guy right now'

Rask's teammates giving the red-hot goalie the silent treatment: 'I don't even talk to the guy right now'

BRIGHTON, Mass. – The Bruins are taking an interesting approach to Tuukka Rask this week as they wait for the Stanley Cup Final to begin a week from now.

Rather than pepper him with shots in practice this week or come up with some elaborate way to keep him in the zone, the Bruins goaltender’s teammates’ biggest strategy is to stay the hell away from him. You have to respect their commitment to leaving alone a guy who’s at the top of this spring’s Conn Smythe candidates with a 12-5-0 record with a 1.84 goals against average and a .942 save percentage, and a goalie who’s pretty much matching what Tim Thomas had done to this point during the 2011 Stanley Cup playoff run.

The big difference for Rask: Thomas was otherworldly in the Cup Final against Vancouver while posting a .967 save percentage and only allowing eight goals in the seven-game series. Rask had a pretty good .932 save percentage while allowing 16 goals in six games against the Blackhawks in 2013, so he needs to be better than pretty good this time around in the Cup Final to truly match Thomas’ playoff run beginning to end.

So with that in mind, Rask won’t be having too many conversations with the guys on his team this week or next in a time-honored hockey superstition akin to not talking to a baseball pitcher during a perfect game. 

“I don’t even talk to the guy right now,” said Bruins defenseman Torey Krug. “I’ll try to ignore him and I’m sure he’s trying to ignore me. I’d say that’s probably a common theme in this locker room. From Day One of the playoffs he’s had a routine and he’s had that look in his eye. I think most guys fall in that category of just letting him do his thing and kind of tip-toeing around him. [You just want to] stay out of the way of his routine.”

Clearly it’s going to be a challenge to keep Rask “in the zone” with the 10 days between the conference final and the Stanley Cup Final, and much of it will be up to him to remain mentally and physically sharp after a long layoff. But it also sounds like his teammates are going to do whatever is necessary to get him there, and keep him there, prior to the Memorial Day Cup Final start against either the St. Louis Blues or the San Jose Sharks.

“We leave him alone. You leave him be. You don’t get into his head at all and you let him do his thing. Whatever he wants to do, you let him do it,” said Brad Marchand, with a smile. "But he’s a pro. He’s been around for a long time so he knows how to prepare himself and stay sharp. We have to do the same thing in the room.”

It’s not exactly an uncommon theme for hockey players to just totally leave their goalie alone when one is going through a hot streak like Rask is right now, and the Bruins players are adhering to hockey tradition in that way. They just have to hope that the silent treatment is exactly what the doctor ordered for a player in Rask who’s playing at the highest level of his career when it comes to excelling during the biggest moments of the postseason.

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Stars-Bruins Talking Points: Nick Ritchie as advertised in Bruins victory over Stars

Stars-Bruins Talking Points: Nick Ritchie as advertised in Bruins victory over Stars

GOLD STAR: Nick Ritchie showed his physicality on Tuesday night and showed off the skill that made him a top-10 pick in the draft in Thursday night’s win over the Stars.

Ritchie scored a second period goal on his first shot as a member of the Bruins after collecting a loose puck in the high slot and firing it through traffic on its way past Ben Bishop. Then, Ritchie teamed with David Pastrnak on a give-and-go play where he fed No. 88 at the post for a tap-in goal that showed off the big winger’s smooth hands for a power forward-type player.

Ritchie finished with two shot attempts, three hits and a pair of blocked shots to go along with a plus-1 rating in 12:59 of ice time, and continues to show the ability to win battles along the boards and serve as a big body in front of the net. He looks as advertised a couple of games into his Bruins career.

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BLACK EYE: Alex Radulov didn’t even register a blip on the radar screen for the Stars as he finished with zero shots on net while on ice for a pair of goals against in 13:49 of ice time.

Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn at least both picked up assists in the loss for Dallas while showing a little offensive production, but Radulov was a passenger while doing next-to-nothing in defeat. Radulov is having a so-so season with the Stars while sitting at 15 goals and 33 points, but it was far from his “A” game against the Bruins on Thursday night.

Then there’s the literal black eye that Joe Pavelski probably received after getting hammered by a flurry of right-handed punches from David Krejci before the referees were able to break things up.

TURNING POINT: It was very clearly the fight between Krejci and Pavelski in the second period where Krejci had decided enough was enough with the Stars forward. Krejci got tangled up with Pavelski in front of the net and the gloves came flying off both players before the Bruins center landed a number of right-handed punches on him.

The Bruins seemed to play with more intensity and energy following the fisticuffs from Krejci and scored a pair of goals to take a lead they wouldn’t relinquish on the evening. For a player that was criticized for not playing hard enough following Tuesday night’s loss, Krejci had a big response this time around in his first fight since dropping the gloves with Benoit Pouliot during the 2010-11 season.

HONORABLE MENTION: David Pastrnak continues to push the envelope offensively and that’s what he did in scoring his 46th goal of the season on Thursday night. Pastrnak sped the puck up the ice all by himself, dished quickly to Nick Ritchie and then cut to the net before the power forward dished it back to him for the tap-in goal at the post.

Pastrnak finished with a goal, two points and a plus-2 rating in 17:16 of ice time while registering four shots on net and eight shot attempts overall. More importantly, Pastrnak had zero giveaways in the game and managed the puck while making his usual array of dazzling plays in the offensive zone.

BY THE NUMBERS: 1 – the number of shots on net in a Bruins uniform that it took for both Ritchie brothers to score goals, and with both of those goals coming against the Stars.

QUOTE TO NOTE: “We responded. They were aware that it wasn’t our best. We needed to be better and we were tonight.” –Bruce Cassidy, on the B’s bouncing back after back-to-back losses to Vancouver and Calgary. 

NHL Highlights: Nick Ritchie steps up in Bruins 4-3 win over Stars

NHL Highlights: Nick Ritchie steps up in Bruins 4-3 win over Stars

FINAL SCORE: Bruins 4, Stars 3

IN BRIEF: Nick Ritchie scores his first goal as a Bruin, David Pastrnak scores his 46th of the season, and the Boston Bruins snap a two-game losing streak to the Dallas Stars. Ritchie also added an assist on Pastrnak's goal, and played much better than in his Bruins debut. Unfortunately, Ondrej Kase didn't produce, but it was his first game back from injury on top of playing with a new team. The Bruins managed to widen the gap in the Atlantic Division as the Tampa Bay Lightning lost their fourth straight to the Chicago Blackhawks.


BRUINS RECORD: 40-13-12 (92 points)










@ New York Islanders, Saturday, 1 p.m. NESN
@ Tampa Bay Lightning, Tuesday, 7:30 p.m. NBCSN

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