Amid losses, Rask sees 'comfort zone'


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.

David Backes out at least 2 more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure


David Backes out at least 2 more games (and likely longer) after elbow procedure

The Bruins look like they’ll be without gritty veteran forward David Backes for at least the next couple of games, and probably more like the next couple of weeks.

It was announced that the gritty Bruins forward underwent a procedure on Monday remove the olecranon bursa from his elbow, and that “his condition will be updated after the weekend.” The procedure is commonly performed when bursitis in the elbow becomes an untenable, and seems more like an injury that worsens over time rather than anything that happened in a particular game this season.

Backes’ effectiveness did seem to be impacted after he got into a fight with Nazem Kadri in the second game of the season in Toronto, but it’s unknown if there’s any connection between that sequence and the forward’s elbow issues. According to the AAOS (American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons) website, it may take “10-14 days” for the skin to heal following the procedure, and three-to-four weeks before a doctor would clear the average person to resume normal activity.

The 32-year-old Backes is off to a good start for the Bruins with two goals and four points in five games prior to missing Tuesday night’s loss to the Minnesota Wild, and his absence makes an already-thin Bruins forward group smaller, softer and much less dangerous. With Backes on the shelf for at least the next two games against the Rangers and Detroit Red Wings, the Bruins have recalled young center Austin Czarnik after his short stint with the Providence Bruins.

Julien: Defensive mistakes 'doing a lot of damage to our game'

Julien: Defensive mistakes 'doing a lot of damage to our game'

BOSTON – The fact that the Bruins goaltending wasn’t up to snuff was well-documented in Tuesday night’s 5-0 home loss to the Minnesota Wild.

But the Bruins are also experiencing some major defensive problems along with injuries to Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin, and that has been a major factor in things suddenly taking a turn for the Black and Gold. Perhaps it’s also a byproduct of playing higher quality NHL teams that can exploit some of those issues, and that’s exactly what the Canadiens and Wild have done in scoring eight mostly easy goals against the B’s in the last two games.

“We give up two quick goals in that [second] period that just deflated us at that point. But you know, our game right now has to be better without the puck and the kind of goals we’re giving up are killing us. They’re taking momentum out of our hockey club. We’ve had some decent starts we haven’t been rewarded for,” said Claude Julien. “We haven’t scored first now in six games, so you’re playing that kind of a game and the minute you give up a goal you’re playing from behind.

“You’ve got to find a way to score that first goal but at the same time I think we need to be much better without the puck and respecting that part of our game a little bit better. Mistakes, or lack of coverage and not being in the right place [in the D-zone] right now, are doing a lot of damage to our game. It’s hurtful at the end because you end up with this kind of a result.”

The first goal allowed by Subban was a lost battle in front of the net as Charlie Coyle took the puck from Danton Heinen in a 50/50 battle, and then the B’s rookie goaltender allowed a fluttering puck to get through his pads on his glove side. Then 12 seconds later a really big breakdown by the Bergeron line and John-Michael Liles/Colin Miller pair left Chris Stewart all alone in front with a point blank chance in the slot.

That was a defensive punch to the gut that knocked all of the wind out of the Black and Gold, and they were never recovered. It was also an inexcusable mistake in a Julien-coached system that is supposed to suffocate any attempts by attackers to get into the slot area for scoring chances.

“It’s really, you know, getting away from playing the way we know how to. We talked about not cheating on the offense, not giving up the slot, and you know giving them the outside as much as possible. When you don’t do that obviously it’s going to be hard on the goalies,” said Patrice Bergeron. “You know obviously it’s a team game, it’s about everyone and [the young goalies] are definitely not to blame tonight. We talked about being a strong, defensive team and being tight in our zone. We did that in the first, I thought, and the second was ugly.”

Give Subban credit for making a stop on Marco Scandella after giving up the two goals in 12 seconds, but a soft power play score allowed to Ryan Suter resulted in the rookie getting pulled from the game despite whatever was happening defensively in front of him. For good measure, an Adam McQuaid turnover in the B’s defensive zone quickly turned into a Jason Tucker goal through traffic to make it 4-0, and the Bruins were well on their way to their worst loss of the season.