Rask strong between the pipes, ready for more

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Rask strong between the pipes, ready for more

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs

OTTAWA It had been so long since Tuukka Rask had played a competitive game in an NHL rink that nobody would have blamed him if hed forgotten what it was like.

The 24-year-old goaltender became a spectator after taking the loss against the New Jersey Devils in the regular-season finale way back on April 10, and got a front-row seat to the Tim Thomas Show from then on.

It all ended well for Rask and the Bruins as they captured the Stanley Cup, which the young goalie was able to take back to Finland with him over the summer, but goalies want to get out on the ice and stop pucks.

Rask got his chance to warm up the puck-stopping muscles with the full start against the Ottawa Senators in Bostons opening preseason game on Wednesday night. He was brilliant while making 34 saves and pushing things to overtime in a game where the Bruins were badly outplayed in front of him, but once again came up just a little short in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Sens at Scotiabank Place.

Bruins coach Claude Julien correctly surmised that the game wouldnt have even made it to overtime if Rask wasnt so good, and determined that his tired-looking team needed a day of rest.

Tuukka played well tonight and he was a big factor in keeping it close, said Claude Julien. Ottawa was definitely the better team tonight. They played a more direct game and we didnt muster up much.

A Mika Zibanejad fluttering shot fooled the Bs goaltender for the game-winner, but it couldnt wipe out all the good work leading up to it. Rask looked sharp early, but saved some of his best stops for the sleepy middle of the game as his defense broke down around him.

The sprawling glove save on Mark Parrish as he bombed down the left wing was a thing of midseason beauty, and Rask kept things under control when a quartet of youngsters (Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Caron, Tyler Seguin, Jamie Tardif) started running around on a delayed penalty call for more than a minute, which put the goalie in a shooting gallery.

It was good to get some game action in and see a lot of shots, said Rask. I didnt feel too bad. Every game is kind of the same. You just cant approach it like its a preseason game or a playoff game.

You just kind of try and stop every puck. But its definitely messier. Guys dont make plays like they usually do in the regular season and pucks are kind of just bouncing off guys sticks. But its still a hockey game and you do your best at it.

Does Rask like the preseason action to be a little helter skelter, so its not so much of a shock to the system when the real bullets start flying?

Its probably better that way, said Rask. Obviously teams are trying different rosters and they dont have the lineups that they usually have and theres chaos. But thats preseason and its part of it.

Rask will need the chaos, the odd bounces and the fluttering shots here in preseason, but the young goalie is going to play more than his 29 games last season while backing up Thomas this season and he might as well be ready for it.

Joe Haggerty can be reached at jhaggerty@comcastsportsnet.com. Follow Joe on Twitter at http:twitter.comHackswithHaggs.

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.