Bruins come through in front of Rask

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Bruins come through in front of Rask

By DannyPicard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON -- Fighting has always been known to spark a hockey club. Three fights in the first four seconds of a game, including two clear-cut victories, as the Bruins had Thursday night, should be enough to fire up the squad.

But as much as Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Adam McQuaid got the TD Garden rocking in the early moments of their against the Dallas Stars, a win wasn't guaranteed.

Their fights would have been meaningless if there had been no response after the fact.

Well, the Bruins responded.

As B's defenseman Andrew Ference -- who had the team's fourth fight, and third win, in the first four minutes of the first period -- pointed out after Boston's 6-3 win over Dallas, some good hockey got lost in all the fighting.

What also could have been lost in all the fighting was the fact that the Bruins played good hockey in front of Tuukka Rask.

Rask entered Thursday's game with a sub-par 4-10-1 record, but his 2.67 goals-against average and .923 save percentage told a different story about his season.

So many times this year, Bruins players have taken the blame for a game in which Rask was credited with the loss. But they did so because it was true. For most of Rask's starts, the B's have failed to show up to play the same way they do when Tim Thomas is in net.

And make no mistake about it, it's nothing more than a coincidence. But that doesn't hide the fact that it happens.

It didn't happen on Thursday, as the Bruins responded to the fighting with two early goals from Milan Lucic and Patrice Bergeron in the first 1:20 of the game. They went into the second period with a 4-0 lead.

"Well, part of it is our fault, to be honest with you," said Bergeron after the win about the team's play in front of Rask. "Rask's got the numbers, the numbers are unbelievable. He doesn't get those wins, but part of it is our fault, as teammates. And we need to step up and give it a good effort in front of him. We did that tonight, but also, I think he made some amazing saves and kept us in the game."

"We feel so bad for him," said Ference. "So many of the games that he started this year, he plays great and then we just seem to screw it up for him. The fights are one thing, but after the fights, to respond with some really good goals, and I think a really good first period, that's the impressive thing. Anybody can go out there and drop the gloves and fight, and do all that stuff. But to follow it up with really good hockey, is what makes it successful."

Rask finished with 30 saves, but allowed three goals on a third-period letdown to make the score 4-3.

The B's quickly called a time out, and turned things around, scoring two goals. Rask turned it around as well, making several more big stops to preserve the lead.

"It's nice to see some offensive power," said Rask. "Especially the way we started the game. Three fights, and then respond with four goals. That's a good sign. They helped me out a lot today."

"I don't know how many people realize how many key saves he made at those key moments," said Bruins coach Claude Julien, praising Rask for being the team's best penalty killer during Dallas' five-minute power play in the second period.

"He made some big saves, and he made some really, really big saves at the right time, and that's what you want from your goaltender," added Julien. "Whenever the other team gets those great opportunities, if he can come up with some big saves, that usually makes the difference in the game, and he did that for us tonight . . . We're going to need more of that from him as we move forward."

And Rask will certainly want more of the same from his teammates when he's between the pipes.

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on hisstreaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Haggerty: Reports of Seidenberg's demise were greatly exaggerated

Hindsight is always 20/20, of course, but it appears the Bruins made a mistake buying out veteran defenseman Dennis Seidenberg from the final couple of years of his contract. 

Seidenberg just finished up a wildly successful stint with host Team Germany at the IIHF World Championships, where he was named Directorate Best Defenseman (the tournament’s best defenseman) after leading all D-men with a goal and eight points. This came after Seidenberg, at age 35, posted 5 goals and 22 points in 73 games for the Islanders, with whom he signed after being cut loose by the B's, while averaging a shade under 20 minutes per game.  Seidenberg also had an excellent World Cup of Hockey tournament for Team Europe last summer (where he was teamed once again with Zdeno Chara), thus managing to play at a high level from September all the way through May.

A faction of Bruins fans thought he was on the serious decline after the 2015-16 season and, clearly, the Bruins agreed, opting to buy him out with two more years still left on a sizable contract extension. (They owe him $2.16 million next season and then will be charged $1.16 million on their salary cap over the next two seasons.) But the B's could have used a durable, defensive warrior like Seidenberg in the playoffs, when they lost three of their top four defensemen against the Ottawa Senators. A rejuvenated Seidenberg, able to play both the left and right side, would have been a better option than Colin Miller.

The Bruins made a conscious decision to hand things over to younger defensemen like Miller, Torey Krug, Brandon Carlo and Joe Morrow in cutting ties with Seidenberg. But they also perhaps miscalculated how much Seidenberg still had left in the tank after his best season in at least three years. 

“Well, at the time we felt like [Seidenberg's] game had really dropped off to where we thought he couldn’t contribute, and we wanted to see if some younger players could come in and help us out,” Bruins president Cam Neely said at the end-of-the-season press conference earlier this month. “I’ve got to say he played well this year for Long Island. But at the time we thought it was the right move. You can’t envision us having three of our top four D’s get hurt [in the playoffs]. We went through a lot of D’s in the postseason. You can’t predict that.”

Neely is referring to the decision made after Seidenberg’s second straight minus season in Boston, when back injuries and a major knee injury had seemed to slow him down a bit. It seemed the only way to properly evaluate some of their other, younger defenseman was to cut Seidenberg loose, but one has to wonder if the Bruins would have possibly done it had they known he was still capable of playing like he did this season for the Islanders. 

Either way, the buyout of Seidenberg is an extremely legitimate second guess of Bruins management in a year where they did a lot of things right. 
 

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Monday, May 22: Senators all out of playoff magic?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading while feeling like we’ll be getting a Pittsburgh/Nashville Stanley Cup Final, which I suppose would be the best possible outcome at this point.

*You hear the name and it just gets you angry all over again if you grew up watching the Bruins. Ulf Samuelsson is in the running for an assistant coaching job with the Chicago Blackhawks, according to a report.

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Chris Johnston says it appears that the time is running out on a Cinderella season for the Ottawa Senators.

*A taste of winning at the world championships with Team Sweden could fuel Alex Edler’s desire for a change from the rebuilding Vancouver Canucks.

*Interesting piece on a former can’t miss goaltending prospect with the Nashville Predators that ended up totally missing, and what he’s been up to in life since then.

*Guy Boucher explains to Pro Hockey Talk why he kept changing goaltenders in the Game 5 blowout loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

*Don Cherry explains that he hates afternoon hockey during his Coach’s Corner from Hockey Night in Canada in the Game 5 blowout between the Penguins and Predators.

*A good piece from FOH (Friend of Haggs) Alex Prewitt on the Nashville Predators, and the evolution of the franchise into a team on the verge of a Stanley Cup Final appearance.

*For something completely different: What a win by the Boston Celtics in Game 3 in Cleveland, and quite an interesting, fired up interview with Al Horford afterward.