Rask's off-night disrupts Julien's goaltending strategy

Rask's off-night disrupts Julien's goaltending strategy

By Danny Picard

BOSTON -- Claude Julien knows what he wants to do between now and the playoffs. He wants to give Tim Thomas some rest.

But what he wants to do, and what he has to do, between now and then, may force his hand to get away from his most desired goaltending strategy.

That was no more evident than in Friday night's 6-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings, a loss that saw Bruins back-up Tuukka Rask allow two questionable goals on the first two shots he faced in the opening minutes of the first period, and a total of five goals on 19 shots through the first two periods.

That was all the Bruins' coaching staff could stand to watch, as Rask sent the B's into the second intermission on a horrendous mishap behind his own net, whiffing on an attempt to swing it behind the goal, and watching a Todd Bertuzzi bank shot go off his pads and into the net for a Detroit 5-1 lead with 3:22 remaining in the second.

Tim Thomas relieved Rask of his duties to begin the third, and allowed one goal on 15 shots. But the fact that the B's had even use him, went against the team's original goaltending plans.

Those plans include giving Thomas some extra rest down the stretch, making sure that the 36-year-old goaltender is ready for what looks to be a serious playoff run.

And while the Bruins still believe in Rask ability to carry some more of the load in the team's final 27 games, it's stinkers like Friday night that don't assure Julien that his goaltending plans can be set in stone.

"I don't know what's going to happen in these next 27 games," said Julien after the loss. "Whether one guy's going to get really hot, whether both of them are going to play well. I deal with it day by day, I've always said that, because you don't know. You can't think 27 games ahead, or 20 games ahead, or 15. You've just got to go by schedule. You've got to go by how things are going.

"My goal, standing here, is, I'm telling you that I would like to give Tuukka some games, and give Timmy some rest, and utilize both, in a way that it works for our hockey club. But I can't tell you right now I've got the blue print, because the blue print changes every day, as you saw tonight."

Anytime that Rask hasn't looked like a hockey god in the crease this season, the question is still asked: "Are you struggling because of your lack of playing time?"

And every time, Rask gives the same answer: "No."

In reality, Rask hasn't struggled this season like he did on Friday night against Detroit. His 5-11-1 record doesn't tell the full story, or true story, of his season. He's been a whole lot better than that.

Most of the year, it's been the team in front of him that hadn't shown up. And even though that was still the case on Friday, the early goals that Rask let up, combined with Bertuzzi's bank-shot from behind the net in the second period, were Rask's fault.

"That something that should never happen, when you think about it as a goalie," said Rask on allowing two goals on the first two shots he faced. "We didn't play our best, that's for sure."

Bertuzzi gave the Red Wings a 1-0 lead, just 1:10 into the game, when he came down the right wing, and beat Rask with a slapper off the right post and in. Dan Cleary added another, two minutes later, when he beat Rask through the five-hole on a shot that could have been saved.

But it was Bertuzzi's first one that Rask deemed inexcusable.

"It was a good shot, but still, if it goes short side like that, you've got to have it," said Rask. "And a couple other ones too, but you can't do anything about it anymore, right?"

He also can't do anything about Bertuzzi's second one, which ended his night.

"I thought I deserved to get pulled," said Rask. "I didn't play at my level today."

"We didn't feel he was as sharp as we needed him to be, that was number one," said Julien. "He still made some good saves. We did recognize that as well, but I think he just wasn't sharp tonight, and after discussing the situation, we just felt the right thing to do was to give Timmy the third period."

When asked who would start in net for the Bruins on Sunday in Detroit, Julien said he hadn't yet made that decision.

Julien knows how he wants to handle the goaltending situation from here on out. It's up to Rask's play to allow him to do that.

"We keep saying over and over, we need Tuukka, to come in and give Timmy some rest," said Julien. "And we need Tuukka to play well, because we know he can play well.

"Tonight was a tough night for Rask. The last time he played, he was very good for us. So he's capable of it. And I think we'll just chalk that up as a tough night, like the rest of the team in front of him, and move on."

Danny Picard is on Twitter at http:twitter.comDannyPicard. You can listen to Danny on his streaming radio show I'm Just Sayin' Monday-Friday from 9-10 a.m. on CSNNE.com.

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Morning Skate: Not a dry eye as Canucks draftee gets the call

Here are all the links from around the hockey world, and what I’m reading, while getting ready to check out GLOW on Netflix.

*This video of a Vancouver Canucks draft pick tearing up while watching the video of his brother celebrating him getting picked is all that is right with the NHL Draft.  

*FOH (Friend of Haggs) Adrian Dater has Avs first-round pick Cale Makar talking about his hockey background, and why it doesn’t matter.

*The Calgary Flames are excited about their prospects and the pieces they were able to acquire last weekend.

*The Washington Capitals have re-signed Brett Connolly for a couple of years at short money and he appears to have found a home in DC.

*The Chicago Blackhawks are still in talks with Marian Hossa about how to resolve his contract and the allergic skin condition that might have prematurely ended his hockey career.

*Will the Tampa Bay sports go through a dry spell when it comes to Hall of Fame athletes now that former Lighting forward Dave Andreychuk has been called to the Hockey Hall?

*It looks like young Pierre Luc Dubois will be put in a position to contribute with the Columbus Blue Jackets this season.

*Alex Prewitt has a preview of the NHL free agency period and the stress levels that many players go through in it.

*For something completely different: This video of Drake and Will Ferrell hoop handshakes was pretty solid, and funny.


Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

Haggerty: Jacobs may not be beloved, but he's Hall of Fame-worthy

If it was based solely on his 42 years as owner of the Boston Bruins, it might be debatable as to whether Jeremy Jacobs would have been selected to the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The Bruins have won one championship and been to a handful of Stanley Cup Finals during Jacobs' long stewardship, of course. They also enjoyed the longest running playoff streak (29 years) in NHL history, though it began before he purchased the franchise. Altogether, the B's have won one Cup, four conference championships, two Presidents' trophies, 15 division championships, and 35 Stanley Cup playoff berths during the Jacobs Era.


But Jacobs didn't make the Hall of Fame solely on his accomplishments with the Bruins organization. He's being inducted in the "builder” category, which is defined as "coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”  In addition to overseeing the Bruins over the last four-plus decades, he has been a power broker at the league level for just as long.

"I am flattered to be included in with this great group of 2017 inductees, and I am humbled to be included with the legends of hockey that went before me,” said Jacobs. "Owning the Boston Bruins for 42 years has been one of the most rewarding honors of my life. I am indebted to our team's leaders and players, but most of all, to our fans, for giving me a broad and deeply appreciative perspective of the game."

The 2011 Stanley Cup victory was the overriding on-ice moment in his stewardship of the team, and the Jacobs family has had a major, altruistic impact in Boston. No one should overlook the Boston Bruins Foundation, which has touched so many lives with the $28 million that's been awarded to those in need since its inception in 1993.

Unfortunately, Jacobs will always have a reputation with a large portion of the Bruins fan base that his ownership wasn't willing to spend enough for truly competitive teams. At times he was viewed as an absentee owner living in Buffalo, overseeing the team from afar while Harry Sinden ran the operation. Those fans hold that grudge even today, despite the Bruins consistently spending to the salary cap ceiling while fielding competitive teams. They view Monday's Hall of Fame announcement as something akin to Montgomery Burns being inducted into the Springfield Hall of Fame.

Cam Neely disagrees.

"As a player, I knew of Mr. Jacobs' passion for the Bruins,” said Neely, who has served as Bruins president for nearly a decade after a Hall of Fame playing career highlighted by his years in Boston. "Over the past decade while in the front office, I have seen firsthand his dedication to winning, by consistently providing the Bruins the resources that we need to compete for Stanley Cup Championships and also his unmatched commitment to growing the game of hockey."

That commitment to hockey is a key factor in Jacobs' Hall of Fame selection.

Jacobs was unanimously voted in as chairman of the NHL Board of Governors in 2007, and he's been a major driving force in each of the last couple of oft-contentious CBA negotiations. While Jacobs clearly had a hand in the cancellation of the entire 2004-05 season due to a labor dispute, and in the lockout-shortened season of 2013, those CBA negotiations ultimately led to the imposition of a salary cap and a pathway for small-market NHL teams to survive as the cost of doing hockey business continues to go up.

Without Jacobs as an often hawkish, hard-line owner, there's a chance that a team like the Western Conference champion Nashville Predators might not have been able to survive in the NHL, and it's highly doubtful they'd be able to be as competitive as they are now if teams like Toronto, New York and Chicago could outspend everybody else. So there's no denying the seismic impact that Jacobs made at the league-wide level with his leadership and commitment to growing the game, and that the NHL is better off for the battles waged in collective bargaining while he's been in a position of power.

If you polled every single Bruins fan on the street, it's unlikely he'd be a populist choice for the Hall of Fame. The lean budgetary years durinhg the playing days of Neely, Ray Bourque and others will always be part of the Spoked B history. Some will hold those grudges forever, which is part of makes us who we are as a fan base.

But faithful, rabid fans continue to stream into TD Garden, continue to spend money to support their favorite hockey team, and continue to provide the kind of support that's led to a 338-game home sellout streak. It's a sign Jacobs and Bruins ownership continue to do things very right, even if we shouldn't be scheduling any popularity contests anytime soon.