BOSTON – While Game 4 easily can be considered Tuukka Rask’s worst playoff game from a statistical standpoint after allowing a career-worst six goals in the Bruins' 6-5 overtime loss to the Blackhawks, the truth is Rask was average behind an atrocious defense.
Chicago was able to load up for 47 shots on net against Rask and the Bruins, and a number of their goals were scored after multiple shots on net where rebounds were not able to be swept away from the front of the net. The rebounds and second chances were what the Bruins goaltender was hung up on, mentioning it several times during his postgame comments after a loss that crumbled Boston’s stalwart defense and superior goaltending.
“It’s not fun, but we battled back many times. We didn’t make it easy on ourselves. At the end of the day, it’s a one-goal game,” said Rask, who saw his numbers “drop” to a 1.83 goals against average and .941 save percentage after the rough defeat. “They get it. We just made it too tough on ourselves. Not our best night.
“They got a lot of shots through, and a lot of second opportunities. You know, you let in six goals as a goalie, and you can’t be satisfied. But as a team I thought it wasn’t our best defensive game. [The second opportunities] are not on anybody, it’s things that happen. There are rebounds, and then the pucks bounce. [It’s] just tough breaks.”
Of the six goals allowed, the most egregious score on Rask’s ledger was the overtime game-winner from Brent Seabrook that the Bruins goalie had a quick look at before the shot was on top of him. Dennis Seidenberg failed to clear the puck and Jaromir Jagr lost it in his legs at the top of the blue line before Seabrook teed up his shot, but Rask would probably like to have that shot back.
Given everything the Finnish goaltender has accomplished during Boston’s playoff run, however, Claude Julien wasn’t going to single out his goalie after the roller coaster playoff loss.
“I don't evaluate the players publicly here. I look at our whole team and tell you our whole team was average tonight. You can take what you want from that,” said Julien. “I think we can be a lot better. We have an opportunity to be better next game. Hopefully, if anything, that makes us even hungrier for the next game.”
The other goals were more on the defense than the goaltending: a shorthanded odd-man rush finished off with a nice Michael Handzus shot; a Jonathan Toews tipped puck with Zdeno Chara down and out of the play; a Patrick Kane rebound goal on a third chance opportunity for the Blackhawks; a Markus Kruger partial breakaway after Rask had made the initial save; and Patrick Sharp's power-play goal.
“It’s always hard. Every game is different. Sometimes you feel more comfortable than the other nights,” said Rask. “[In Game 4] they had a lot of – we had a lot of breakdowns and they got two-on-ones, breakaway, stuff like that – so it’s just a battle out there. Sometimes you just feel more comfortable than the others.”
While Rask wasn't directly responsible for most of the goals, at the end of the day six goals allowed is way too many. That means the Bruins goaltender needs to be better and rebound in Game 5 just like the rest of the Black and Gold lineup.