Amid losses, Rask sees 'comfort zone'

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Amid losses, Rask sees 'comfort zone'

WINNIPEG, MB. Tuukka Rask is still looking for answers, and still seeking his first win in more than a month.

The 24-year-old Finnish goaltender earned his first start since getting pulled against the Buffalo Sabres more than a week ago, but couldnt do enough to prevent his personal losing streak from reaching five games in a 4-2 loss to the Winnipeg Jets at the DTS Centre.
Rasks defense failed him in the final period when the Bruins collapsed after David Krejci managed to tie it in the opening minute of the third period, but the Bs netminder was admittedly far from good in the second.

He allowed four goals on the first 17 shots he faced in the game, and could have accepted fault on both Winnipeg scores in the second period. Rask has now allowed three or more goals in each of his last five appearances.

Alex Burmistrov started Winnipegs scoring by firing a puck from the right face-off circle that beat Rask while the Bs goalie made a futile swipe with his glove hand. The shot bounced Rasks water bottle straight off the top of the netting and immediately sent him into second-guess mode with the choice of glove save over a shrugging shoulder save attempt at the puck.

I saw it. It was a pretty good shot. I was more unhappy about the second one because it went through me, said Rask, referencing Blake Wheelers goal. The first one wasnt the hardest shot ever, but it caught me in a good spot. I used the wrong save selection there because I probably should have gone with a shoulder save.

I made a couple of good saves in the game, but its all about the timing I guess.

The real point of frustration for Rask was the Blake Wheeler goal that whistled through his leg pads on the way to the back of the net. The Bruins had won some measure of momentum back on Jordan Carons second-period goal, but Rask gave it right back with the soft goal surrendered to Wheeler.

That led to Krejcis game-tying score, and a pair of Bryan Little rebound strikes in the final period that handed the Jets a needed win.

The four goals leave Rask 0-4-1 in his last five games with an .855 save percentage and a goals against average over 3.00. Best of all, its coming at the worst possible time this season. The Bruins desperately need Rask to be effective as they reach the densest, road-heavy portion of their NHL schedule, but the confidence index in Rasks ability to stop pucks is rapidly eroding away with each underperformance.

Its always tough when you lose and youre trying to find your game. But you cant get down on yourself, said Rask. You just need to work hard and try to find that rhythm youre looking for. You need to find that comfort zone, but sometimes you just cant find it.

Its a tough battle but I think were going to come out as winners when it matters most.

Claude Julien admitted Rask needs to be better than he was Friday night in Winnipeg during the 21-save effort, but there were as many problems with irresponsible defenders breaking down in the third period.

I think weve seen Tuukka better. Everybody has to be better. The goaltender is the easiest one to criticize because hes the last guy standing there, said a frustrated Claude Julien, who answered two questions before ending his post-game session with reporters. Our goalies can be better as the rest of the team can.

While Julien can talk a good game about the ease of blaming a goaltender for a teams woes, actions will speak louder than words as they always do. The Bs coach will show exactly what kind of confidence he holds in Rask with the choice of his next starting assignment between the pipes.

The losing performance to the Jets didnt inspire much in the way of strong belief in Rask, but his coach still has a chance to augment it by going right back to him again on Sunday against the Minnesota Wild.

Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

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Bruins coaches: Czarnik a ‘Belichick-type hockey player’

BOSTON – Austin Czarnik is off to a good start at Bruins training camp.

He’s got points in each of the first two exhibition games and just the fact that he’s cracked the B’s lineup in both games tells you that the coaching staff wants to get a long, good look at the undersized forward.

But the 5-foot-9, 167-pound Czarnik brings more than simply a touch of the Napoleon complex after always being told that he was too small to make it to the elite levels of hockey. The 23-year-old clearly can score after posting 20 goals and 61 points in his first pro season in the AHL in Providence last season. He plays with heart, energy and a dogged determination when he’s hunting pucks on the fore-check.

But former P-Bruins head coach and current B’s assistant coach Bruce Cassidy says that Czarnik also brings something a little extra that New England Patriots fans will certainly appreciate.

“As far as being a player goes, he would be, to me, that [Bill] Belichick-type player that you could use in a lot of different situations,” said Cassidy, in clear reference to intelligent utility guys Troy Brown, Danny Woodhead, Julian Edelman and others that all filled different roles in their time with New England.

“He’s got a very, very high IQ, he’s a quick learner and very coachable,” Cassidy said. “So, he’s a guy you can move around, and he can play with different players. He can play on the penalty kill, he’s good on the power play and especially on the point.

“So there are a lot of different things. I think from night-to-night if you wanted to, you could move him around in your lineup and he could be effective for you. I know he’s a center, but it would be interesting to see if he could play the wing and be effective. That’s something we haven’t really seen. Is that something we maybe attempt down the road? I don’t know. I don’t want to speak out of turn, but it wouldn’t surprise me if he could handle it. He even played for us 6-on-5 as a defenseman with the goalie out. He’s just a smart player, and he understands the game very, very well.”

So, Czarnik is off to a good start in training camp with the Bruins, but we also saw the same thing from him last year as a rookie to pro hockey. 

Now, it’s about seeing whether a smaller player can finish strong as the competition heightens deeper into the preseason, and perhaps he can bring that versatility and feistiness to the NHL level in Boston. 

 

 

Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

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Thursday, Sept. 29: Oilers right where they belong

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while looking forward to watching the Luke Cage Netflix series.

*The Cult of Hockey has no issues with yours truly ranking the Edmonton Oilers 29th out of 30 teams in my first preseason NHL power rankings.

*An interesting piece about Brian McGrattan and his battle with alcohol in his career as an NHL tough guy. I can honestly say having covered him a bit when he was in the Bruins organization that he was one of the scariest dudes I’ve ever talked to in an NHL dressing room. A nice guy, but very intense and always looked like he definitely enjoyed his work on the ice.

*Dennis Seidenberg hopped on with the Hockey Central crew today to talk about his new contract with the New York Islanders.

*PHT writer and Friend of Haggs (FOH) Mike Halford has Guy Boucher with some serious Dion Phaneuf love going on in Ottawa.

*Jack Eichel is oozing confidence and swagger in his second NHL season with Buffalo looking to make a big step up this season.

*Scott Burnside said that the World Cup of Hockey could be coming to an end tonight and I think most predict that it will with a little bit of an anticlimactic thud due to the sheer awesomeness of Team Canada.

*For something completely different: “Aleppo Moment” sounds like a great name for a rock band. Not so much for a Presidential candidate.