Rask bounces back in loss

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Rask bounces back in loss

BUFFALO Sometimes when youre smack in the middle of the tempest, you cant see the answer right in front of you.

Tuukka Rask knew something was amiss as he grew more uncomfortable with each passing game between the pipes as it mushroomed into a five-game losing streak. But a visit in Buffalo from Bs goalie coach Bob Essensa helped the young Bs goaltender realize hed been dropping too rapidly into his butterfly position when the going got tough.

It was a subtle observation from Essensa, but it was all Rask needed to climb out of his February abyss. Rask was his normal stoic goaltending self while backstopping the Bruins to a 2-1 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres at the First Niagara Center, and looks like hes back on track.

Dropping down has been a weakness of mine lately. It has a lot to do with confidence. Goalie Bob Essensa came here and started to work on that. Its good when somebody tells you that because sometimes you dont realize it yourself, said Rask. Its not always such an easy thing to do when youre feeling the best that youve ever felt. Its a challenge mentally to stay patient and stay up.

Too bad that we lost, but I thought we played a good game.

Sure it was technically Rasks sixth straight loss, but it was also the first time in more than a month the Bs have pulled points out of consecutive games.

Rask made 26 stops including the deflection of a Derek Roy shot away from danger in the opening minute of the first period, and seemingly immediately banished the demons of his previous appearance in Buffalo.

There wasnt going to be a repeat of the blowout defeat that saw Rask apologizing to Tim Thomas on ice for forcing him into a game on his night of rest. That would have been the one where Rask allowed three goals on 10 shots and was pulled early in the second period en route to the Bs worst loss in four years.

It was a good battle. The shootouts can go either way, said Rask, who hadnt allowed fewer than two goals since a 9-0 shutout win over the Calgary Flames back on Jan. 5. I just tried to be more patient and not go down earlyexcept for that Sekera goal. Obviously it was a step ahead for me and hopefully I can keep it up.

Rask was keeping it up Friday night while evenly facing down a red-hot Ryan Miller through a scoreless first period. He shook off an Andrej Sekera goal in the second period that had him kicking himself for slipping into his habit of dropping down too early, and locked it down in the final 20 minutes as his team mounted a comeback.

Rask had strong defensive efforts from Johnny Boychuk and Zdeno Chara protecting things in front of him, but he was calm, effortless and at his quiet best when Buffalo attackers broke through. Rask confidently pounced on pucks that skittered through the crease area and flawlessly absorbed shots fired directly on him.

Several weeks ago in the same building against the same team he was coughing up dangerous rebounds all over the ice. This time he was the picture of control and economic motion between the pipes.

In overtime Rask was the recipient of a stellar Zdeno Chara defensive play as he shooed away a Thomas Vanek that looked destined to be the game-winner. But Rask used his scrambling athleticism to quickly recover and make the follow-up save on Andrej Sekera.

Of course the Finnish netminder swore softly to himself for failing to corral Vaneks wind-up slapper and Derek Roys game-winner in the shootout both of which he managed to get a piece of but the building blocks are in place.

Rask is putting one foot in front of the other to regain the form he had while leading the NHL in goals against average and save percentage headed into January.

Never is that more important than the stretch of 22 games in 40 days the Bruins are headed for once they finish up their six-game road trip with Saturday nights tilt against the Senators.

The Bruins need Rask to step up and provide quality performances to keep Tim Thomas rested and ready down the stretch. That will be an easier chore if Claude Juliens confidence index has risen significantly after seeing some vintage Tuukka against the Sabres.

I thought his game was good tonight. He was solid and made good saveskey saves, said Julien. He seemed like he was in good control. From the bench he seemed calm and was making saves look easy.

I like the way that he battled back in this building from the last time he was here. His game was good and gave us a chance to win.

So Rask is feeling good about himself and his technique between the pipes, and its inevitable that the wins will be following if he continues on that path.

Bruins’ new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility to open Sept. 8.

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Bruins’ new Warrior Ice Arena practice facility to open Sept. 8.

The Bruins’ new practice facility has been years in the making and they will finally get to officially open the doors to Warrior Ice Arena in Brighton next month. 

The B’s players will start informal captain’s practice skates at the new facility on the New Balance property in these final days of August, but the team announced on Friday that the new facility will be officially opened to the public on Thursday, Sept. 8.

Bruins owner Jeremy Jacobs, Bruins CEO Charlie Jacobs, team president Cam Neely, general manager Don Sweeney and a number of players will be on hand for the opening ceremony and ensuing open house for the media. Also planning to attend from New Balance will be Owner and Chairman Jim Davis and NB Development Group LLC Managing Director Jim Halliday, along with Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker, Boston Mayor Marty Walsh and Massachusetts Speaker of the House Robert DeLeo. 

Following the formal portion of the event, Warrior Ice Arena will host the “Boston Youth All-Star Game featuring Bruins Alumni” which will feature local squirt players from the Boston communities of Allston-Brighton, Charlestown, Dorchester, Hyde Park, South Boston and West Roxbury mixed in with members of the Bruins alumni. 

The Youth All-Stars will team with Bruins alumni and they will play the first official game before the ice is turned over to the current Bruins players for their training camp later in the month.

The Warrior Ice Arena gets its name from the Warrior brand of hockey equipment that is now a division of New Balance and comes with a 79-foot high Warrior hockey stick that greets visitors at the front entrance doors.

Warrior Ice Arena will be the B’s new and permanent practice home after the Bruins spent 25-plus years practicing in the suburbs of Boston at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington. 

 

Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

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Friday, Aug. 26: Coyotes keep taking on dead money in latest deal

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while finally catching up on “The Man in the High Tower” on Amazon.

*The Coyotes and Panthers executed a trade sending Dave Bolland to Arizona, and it’s not exactly great news for Gary Bettman with Arizona continuing to take on a lot of dead money.

*Alex Pietrangelo was appropriately humbled to be named the 21st captain in the history of the St. Louis Blues.

*The Colorado Avalanche have a new head coach, and his name is Jared Bednar, who it is said will get the players to play hard for him.

*The footage of somebody in full goalie equipment running away from a burglary scene is something out of a movie.

*The New York Rangers can never have enough depth, and that’s why they added Brandon Pirri to the mix on Thursday.

*PHT writer Cam Tucker says Lawson Crouse brings the total package in the trade from Florida to Arizona, and he also brings a player that can take a hell of a hit as he was the guy that got rocked by Charlie McAvoy at the World Junior Showcase earlier this month.  

*It’s only 15 days until the US National Team Development Program gets going with their 2016-17 schedule: here it is in full.

*For something completely different: can you see David Ortiz’s face in this corn maze? This could be like an ink blot test.