Tuukka Rask is stepping up as the starting goaltender for the Bruins so far this season. But he gives a lot of the credit to his defense.
"I think our (defense) has done a really good job blocking those shots and taking care of most of the rebounds so I got to thank them for that."
He has appeared in every game for the Bruins so far, so is fatigue setting in yet?
"A little bit." explained Rask. "It's the start of the season. I guess your legs feel a little fatigue but nothing too major."
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Things went about as badly as they could have for the Bruins on Wednesday night, resulting in them waking up Thursday morning as the second wild-card team . . . and just a couple of missteps from being out of the playoff structure entirely.
The Toronto Maple Leafs took down the Columbus Blue Jackets, 5-2, and the New York Islanders came back to beat the New York Rangers, 3-2, so both teams gained ground on the idle B’s. Toronto has passed the Bruins by a point for third place in the Atlantic Division with a game still in hand, and the Isles are just two points behind the Bruins while also holding a game in hand.
According to Hockey Reference’s web site the Bruins still have a 78.3 percent chance of making the playoffs, but that number dropped significantly from where it was prior to the back-to-back losses to Toronto and Ottawa earlier this week.
The Bruins remain very much in control of their destiny, but they need wins against Tampa Bay on Thursday and (especially) against the Isles in Brooklyn this weekend.
All of this is because the Bruins have hit their first bump under interim coach Bruce Cassidy, a three-game losing streak that eroded the playoff cushion they enjoyed over the teams chasing them. It's raised some blood-pressure levels locally, since the B’s have missed the playoffs in each of the last two years due to late season collapses (going 3-8-1 in their final 12 games last year, and losing 9 of their final 14 two years ago).
“You have to obviously look forward. [You] definitely don’t dwell on the past and don’t look at the past two years,” said Patrice Bergeron following the loss to Ottawa on Tuesday night. “It’s not even something we should think about at this point. It’s about us finding ways and us obviously being better and finding ways to win games. We’re playing good hockey, but not good enough to get the result.”
They'll attempt to get back on track tonight against the Lightning, who come to town just five points behind Boston and also badly in need of a win as they're riding their own three-game losing streak.