Rask 'only bright light' in Bruins loss

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Rask 'only bright light' in Bruins loss

By Danny Picard
CSNNE.com

BOSTON --Tuukka Rask finished last season three games under .500. Buthis 11-14 record didnt necessarily tell the whole story.

For those who watched, Rasks record didnt justify hisperformance. What justified his performance was his 2.67 goals-against averagein 29 regular-season appearances.

It was the rest of the Bruins that hardly ever seemed toshow up on nights in which Rask was between the pipes.

Monday afternoon told a similar story, as Rask made hisfirst start of the season, and his first appearance since April 10. And just as he left off, Rask made 35 saves and allowed only one goal.

But still, Rask picked up the loss.

Hes probably the only bright light on this game today,said Bruins coach Claude Julien after the Colorado Avalanche defeated theBruins 1-0 on Monday at the TD Garden. Had it not been for him, this gamecould have probably been over much sooner than it was. He kept us in there andgave us a chance. And we just didnt respond.

The lone goal of the game came eight minutes into the thirdperiod, when a low Milan Hejduk wrister from the right circle deflected offZdeno Charas shin pad and snuck through Rasks five-hole.

We lost the draw, and then they got the puck there and kindof just dangled over to the middle a little bit, said Rask. Hejduk shot it,and it hit a shin pad and bounced in.

I was screened, but I saw the show going and where Ithought it was going. Then it just deflected off something and went in.

Rask should probably be frustrated with the way his teamplayed in front of him and on the other end of the ice. Not just because ithappened on Monday his first start of the season. But also because its anissue thats carried over from last season, when hes between the pipes.

His teammates realize theyre the ones to blame for Mondaysloss, not Rask.

When Tuukka plays a game like he did tonight, we have tocome through for him, said Bruins forward Brad Marchand. Thats something wedidnt do. We left him stranded a bit. He gave us every opportunity to win. Wejust didnt capitalize when we needed to.

He played great, said forward Milan Lucic. You cant ask for much morethan how he played today. He kept us in it the whole night and gave us a chanceto win it. And it sucks on the other end. As one of our players we werent ableto do anything for him on the other end.

If theres anything good to come out of Mondays game, itwas Rask. Not just because he made 35 saves and allowed only one goal. Butbecause he did it while not feeling his best.

I was telling Timmy Thomas before the game, you get thatlittle nervousness in you because its the first game, said Rask. I haventplayed in a long time in a real situation, so I felt kind of weird before thegame. But once the puck dropped and I got into that groove, I felt pretty good.

Its not the greatest Ive ever felt, but still for thefirst game in a long time, I felt pretty good.

Rask gained his in-game confidence by helping kill off a5-on-3 Avalanche power play in the opening minutes.

As the season progresses, Rask expects his confidence togrow even more. He just hopes the wins will follow.

It dont matter if you lose 10-0 or 1-0, its still aloss, said Rask. But we definitely didnt play our full 60-minute effort,thats for sure.

What can you do, right? Whatever, added Rask when askedabout similarities to last season. I mean, my first game of the year. If ithappens 30 times a year, obviously it gets kind of frustrating. But Im not tooworried about it yet, no.

As well he shouldnt be.

Danny Picard is on twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard.

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Morning Skate: Do Caps have mental block come playoff time?

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while thinking about and praying for the people of Manchester, England. It’s obviously an evil, cowardly act to bomb any public place, but to do it at a concert filled with women and children is the lowest of the low.

*The Capitals players are acknowledging that there’s some kind of mental block with the Stanley Cup playoffs. CSN Mid-Atlantic has all the details.

*It’s been a very odd postseason for the NHL where there are so many non-traditional teams still alive with the Nashville Predators in the Stanley Cup Fina, and the Ottawa Senators fighting for their lives in the Eastern Conference Final. On that note, there is a ton of disappointment at the empty seats at the Canadian Tire Centre for Ottawa’s home games in the playoffs. It sounds like there are going to be empty seats tonight for a do-or-die Game 6 in Ottawa. That is an embarrassment for a Canadian city that’s supposed to pride itself on their love of hockey. Let’s hope the Senators fans have a last-minute surge to buy tickets and show some appreciation for a Senators team that’s given the Ottawa fans a totally unexpected ride through the postseason this spring. I mean, Erik Karlsson at the top of his game is worth the price of admission all by himself.  

*The Pittsburgh Penguins have the Senators on the ropes, and it’s been an impressive showing given that they’re doing it without Kris Letang.

*Pro Hockey Talk has the ownership for the St. Louis Blues giving their GM Doug Armstrong a vote of confidence.

*Another early exit from the playoffs is going to start making some players expendable on the New York Rangers roster.

*Here’s a good piece on how David Poile built the Nashville Predators, who have reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time. Give credit where it’s due: He manned up and made a big move dealing away Shea Weber straight up for PK Subban. It’s really worked for Music City as they’ve stepped to the next level.

*Speaking of Nashville’s rise this spring in a wide open Western Conference, Pekka Rinne has silenced the critics he might have had by carrying his team to the Cup Final.

*For something completely different: Boston law enforcement is on high alert after the bombing of the Ariana Grande concert in the UK.

 

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.