Bruins

Tuukka Rask: 'Puck felt like it was a golf ball out there' during tough outing

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Tuukka Rask: 'Puck felt like it was a golf ball out there' during tough outing

MONTREAL – Tuukka Rask had been the best goalie in the NHL for the entire first month of the season.

It’s why he was leading the league in both goals against average and save percentage entering the month of November, and part of why the Bruins were atop the NHL as a team.

Unfortunately, it would be pretty much impossible for Rask to keep up the pace of his great start in October and that’s how things played out in his worst game of the season on Tuesday night in Boston’s 5-4 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at the Bell Centre.

It was bad timing as Rask was one of the few fresh Boston players on the ice as the Bruins were playing their third game in four days, and second of a back-to-back after digging deep to come back against the Penguins 24 hours prior in Boston.

Rask gave up all five goals on 31 shot attempts to the Habs to drop all the way to third in the league in goals against average (1.88 GAA) and fourth in save percentage (.936), and saved some of his worst for last as Habs D-man Ben Chiarot beat him for the game-winner in the third on a routine wrist shot from the face-off circle that Rask simply missed with his glove hand.

“I saw it,” said Rask. “It hit my glove and then bounced off my leg and into the middle of the net.”

Combine that with a couple of soft goals allowed in the first period as well when Rask allowed two goals in 31 seconds to Montreal after the Bruins had tied the game early, and it was the Boston netminder’s worst night of the season by a long shot.

“For me it was,” said Rask, when asked if it felt like a battle during the game. “It was one of those nights where instead of a hockey puck you feel like it’s a golf ball out there. I just wasn’t tracking it well, so it was a tough night for me. I thought we battled well and we could have easily won the game. But I couldn’t really make a save.

“It’s just one of those nights that you’re not tracking it well. That’s it.”

The good news for Rask is that he’ll get a chance to right the ship this weekend with a couple of games, though it wouldn’t be surprising if backup Jaroslav Halak gets the call against the Red Wings on Friday after Rask spit the bit against the Habs. It sure sounds like Rask will get the benefit of the doubt from the Bruins coaching staff after a great first month of the season when the B’s No. 1 netminder usually struggles out of the starting gate.

“Yeah there was, and it was tonight. He wasn’t that sharp,” said Cassidy, when asked if there was bound to be a night when Rask wasn’t as good as he’d been in the first month of the season. “We battled back so it would have been nice to get that last save, but he’s human. He’s been really good for us, so that’s going to happen for everybody.”

The Bruins have to hope that their goaltender can bounce back to superhuman mode pretty quickly, though, given how important elite level goaltending is to the overall success of their hockey club this season.

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Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

Rask knows he 'can't be too satisfied' with the way his game his taken a slide

BOSTON – There’s no denying the single biggest common thread through the Bruins' four-game losing streak.

The same Tuukka Rask that was brilliant in the first month of the season has hit a rough patch in November and that tough stretch continued as he coughed up four goals in the third period of a 5-4 shootout loss to the Florida Panthers on Tuesday night.

Rask is 1-2-1 with a 3.45 goals-against average and .886 save percentage in four November starts and played a starring role as a liability in losses to Montreal and Florida the past week. It was Rask who was beaten in the first minute of the third period on a long-distance Aaron Ekblad shot where the goaltender admitted he was too deep in the net and it was Rask who didn’t shut off the post on Florida’s third goal scored by Mike Hoffman as Florida was storming back in the final 20 minutes.

“I should have been sharper in that third period,” lamented Rask. “There were a couple of soft goals and I let [the Panthers] kind of get some momentum. It’s a 60-minute game and we’ve been on the other side of it.”

It wasn’t quite as bad as the three soft goals he gave up that all clanged off his glove hand last week in Montreal, but it was far from vintage Rask at a time when a few different things are going wrong for the Bruins. Rask is still top five with a 2.16 GAA and eighth in the league with a .926 save percentage, but it’s a far cry from the .951 save percentage he racked up in 10 games in a red-hot October.

Clearly, Rask is going through the same kind of tough stretch that used to greet him the first month of the season, but this time, it’s hitting him after a brief, dominant stretch out of the starting gate. Perhaps the Bruins coaching staff will get a quicker hook with Rask the next time he shows signs of trouble as in the losses against Montreal and Florida, or Jaroslav Halak will be used with a little more frequency until Rask works out the kinks in his game.

At least the B’s No. 1 goaltender isn’t under any illusions about the way he’s played the past few games.

“In Montreal, I sucked. In Detroit, I felt okay. Today, in the last period there were a couple of soft goals, so I can’t be too satisfied,” said Rask. “But, hey, there’s a lot of hockey left.”

While it’s refreshing to hear the kind of accountability  Rask is putting out there, the Bruins aren’t going to go very far if Rask is talking too much about sucking and giving up soft goals. The B’s better hope that their top goalie gets locked back in pretty quickly so both the team and Rask can leave their early-season mini-slumps behind in the rear-view mirror.

 

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NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

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NBC Sports Boston Illustration

NHL Power Rankings: Big shakeup in the Top 10 this week

Sure, the NHL's Stanley Cup Playoffs are months away, but it's never too soon to look ahead, right?

The competition for playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference could be tight, as several teams have surged forward recently, including the Flyers, Panthers and Canadiens — all of which missed the playoffs a season ago.

The picture is also crowded out West, where not many teams have started to separate from the pack as of yet.

How are the Bruins stacking up after a four-game losing streak? And which teams are making leaps forward?

Click here for Joe Haggerty's NHL Power Rankings.>>>>>>

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