BOSTON – It certainly looks like the Montreal Canadiens are starting to become a “thing” for Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask.
Rask was pulled after giving up his third goal on the 18th shot he faced in the second period of Thursday night’s 4-1 loss to the Habs at TD Garden, and dropped to a 2-10-2 career record versus the Bleu, Blanc and Rouge in his NHL career. The other numbers aren’t much better with a save percentage under .900, and a goals-against average that’s climbing toward 3.00.
It was also the fourth time Rask has been removed from a game this season, with each of those games taking place over the past six weeks.
“I don’t know, I mean I haven’t played too many bad games against them, just can’t get the wins,” said Rask. “I mean it sucks, but what can you do. Just hopefully by the end of my career, they [the stats] are better.”
When you look at the balance of the stats against Montreal, however, Rask hasn’t exactly played a lot of good games against the Habs either.
Rask wasn’t 100 percent at fault for the three Montreal scores. It appeared he was screened on the Alexei Emelin shot that opened up Montreal’s scoring, and Max Pacioretty scored on a 2-on-1 breakaway created when Johnny Boychuk and Torey Krug didn’t get back on defense quickly enough. But the second-period power-play goal allowed to Brian Gionta wasn’t a great one that trickled through on a tipped puck, and was the final straw for the Bruins coaching staff.
Claude Julien wouldn’t get into the exact reasoning behind the goaltending switch in the second period, and scoffed at follow-up questions about the decision.
“It’s a lot of everything,” said Julien. “That’s a decision that I make, and I don’t feel I have to explain every time. I don’t think I have to explain myself, why I pulled the goalie.
“This isn’t going to be one of those things where we’re going to make a big story out of a pulled goalie. Our team was poor tonight. Maybe sometimes you pull the goalie for different reasons. I don’t think I have to explain everything to you guys for the reasons because there’s a lot of decisions that I make that are for inside that dressing room…not necessarily for everyone to share.”
It seemed pretty clear Julien was looking to sidestep any manner of goalie controversy by simply skipping the question. Still, he wasn’t overly enamored with Rask’s performance given his body of work this season. It’s even more apparent the move was designed to light a searing flame under the collective behinds of a team that never showed up Thursday night against their eternal rivals.
Instead of working out for the Black and Gold, backup Chad Johnson surrendered a goal in the second shot he saw from Montreal: a breakaway goal for Daniel Briere after a rough Loui Eriksson turnover on a line change.
It was that kind of night for Rask, Julien, Johnson and the rest of the Bruins where nothing went right against the Canadiens. Unfortunately, there have been far too many nights like it in the past when Rask are the Canadiens are concerned.
That will need to be addressed if these two teams see each other in the playoffs as they were lined up to do in the first round if the season had ended prior to this latest B’s/Habs showdown.