B's absolve Rask of blame for defeat

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B's absolve Rask of blame for defeat

BOSTON -- Bruins coach Claude Julien seemed stunned.

He was taken aback by some of the questions from reporters following Boston's 3-2 shootout loss to the Detroit Red Wings on Friday afternoon at the TD Garden, which snapped the Bruins' 10-game winning streak. Especially questions that appeared critical of goaltender Tuukka Rask.

"There's no problem at all with Tuukka," said Julien, while on the defensive when fairly asked what he thought of Rask's performance in the shootout loss. "I thought he made some good saves, and we had some breakdowns. You look at the first goal, he doesn't have much of a chance on that.

"And the other one is a pretty skilled player, probably the highest skilled player in the league, in Pavel Datsyuk. And we didn't handle it well. We didn't have the layers. We let him walk in alone.

"It was a great game," added Julien. "And I thought Tuukka handled it well. He was good for us."

Rask may have been the one who allowed the shootout goal to Todd Bertuzzi that officially ended the Bruins' winning streak. But he wasn't the reason the B's won't be going for 12 wins in a row on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets.

Friday was Rask's fourth start in that 10-game win streak. His last was in a 2-1 shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets at the Garden last Thursday, when he stoned Antoine Vermette with a left pad save in the shootout to seal the deal and keep the streak alive.

Against the Red Wings, he wasn't as heroic. But everyone in the Bruins' dressing room agreed: Detroit isn't a team you want to face in a shootout.

"Unfortunately, the one thing you don't want to do against that team is get into a shootout," said Julien after the game. "You've got to respect that part of their roster."

Datsyuk went first for the Red Wings, and he scored. Rask then made a save on Jiri Hudler. But on Detroit's third and final shot, he couldn't stop Bertuzzi's nifty move of taking it wide right and cutting across the crease.

When asked if he got a piece of Bertuzzi's game-winning shootout goal, Rask said, "I don't know, I don't know. It don't matter, right?"

Nope. Didn't matter. Not one bit.

"Even if Tuukka stopped that last one, they had a lot more guys to come that are pretty dangerous, that hadn't been out there yet," said Julien. "So, that's the part that you've got to respect on their team. And unfortunately, we got to that stage where it was decided by individuals."

Friday's game could have been decided before the shootout -- in the B's favor -- if it weren't for Boston's mistakes on the defensive end that allowed the Red Wings to score two goals in regulation. Their second one came just 35 seconds after the Bruins tied the game at 1-1 in the second period, and it stemmed from a defensive breakdown that allowed Datsyuk to streak past Boston defense and step in all alone from the right circle.

Detroit's first goal was also the result of a similar defensive breakdown.

Both times, Rask had no chance.

"They're always a tough team to play against," said Rask. "They're really skilled, and they like to make those seam passes in the zone and find late guys and stuff like that. It's a challenging team to play against, but it's always a battle, right?"

Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

Julien: 'The less said and the more shown' is good for Bruins right now

BRIGHTON, Mass – Claude Julien met with the media after Tuesday’s morning skate and there was a bit of a long pause between questions at one point early in the session.

“I understand because everything that needs to be said has already been said, right?” cracked the longtime Bruins bench boss, who was in good spirits after morning skate despite the turmoil around him.

It’s clearly less about words and more about results right now for a struggling team that’s lost a season-worst four games in a row in gut-punching fashion and has fallen out of a playoff position despite teams above them, Ottawa and Toronto, holding five games in hand on them. 

The Bruins are in a freefall at the worst possible time and at this point, Julien wants to see positive action and winning results from his team rather than the empty talk with the media.

“We want to respect our game plan, execute it well and that normally helps you. We’ve been a little bit all over the place, especially in the last game,” said Julien. “That’s what we addressed yesterday, moving forward.

“I haven’t used the All-Star break as a motivation. We’re basically looking at these last two games, and what we have to do in these last two games. I think we’re well aware of what’s waiting for them after that. The players normally know when the breaks are. That’s not for us right now. I’d like to see our focus on what we need to do [against the Wings] to right the ship. We’ve talked about it a lot, and I think right now the less said, and the more shown is probably the best thing.”

With two games left until the All-Star break, one has to wonder what Julien’s fate will be if the Bruins drop both games to Detroit and Pittsburgh before the group breaks up for All-Star weekend. 

A good showing might be enough to keep Julien calling the shots for the Black and Gold down the stretch this season. But the sense is that more of the same fragile, losing efforts from the Bruins in these final two home dates, a familiar look from this group over the past three seasons, could spell doom for the winningest coach in Bruins franchise history.

One thing is for sure: Words aren’t going to do anything for Julien, and instead it’s about cold, hard results for the coach and the Bruins players who are nose-diving in the middle of the regular season.


 

Rask skates, expected to play tonight vs. Red Wings

Rask skates, expected to play tonight vs. Red Wings

BRIGHTON, Mass – The Bruins held an optional morning skate on Tuesday morning at Warrior Ice Arena with little more than a handful of B’s players skating, but the most important player to Boston success, Tuukka Rask, was taking part after missing practice on Monday.

Rask missed Monday’s practice session while getting checked out medically following his exit from Sunday’s loss to Pittsburgh due to vision issues. He said on Tuesday that it was all related to migraines that have cropped up a couple of times in his NHL career. The Bruins No. 1 netminder also said he was good to play on Tuesday night against the Red Wings with just a couple of home games left until this weekend’s All-Star break.

That was the kind of good news embattled coach Claude Julien was looking for as Boston looks to end its season-worst, four-game losing streak.

“We’ve got good news so far, so that’s nice to see,” Julien said of Rask, who has started 13 of Boston’s past 14 games dating to a Dec. 27 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. “Obviously it was because of the migraines, so hopefully we won’t see much more of that.”

In other Black and Gold health news, both Colin Miller and Kevan Miller have been cleared to play, and are expected to rejoin the B’s lineup with John-Michael Liles and Joe Morrow headed for healthy scratches. Here are the projected Bruins line combos and D-pairings as the Red Wings arrive for a divisional tilt after a shootout loss for Boston last week at Joe Louis Arena:

Marchand-Bergeron-Pastrnak

Vatrano-Krejci-Backes

Schaller-Nash-Beleskey

Spooner-Moore-Hayes

 
Chara-Carlo

Krug-McQuaid

K. Miller-C. Miller


Rask