Haggerty: Rask will get starting nod soon

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Haggerty: Rask will get starting nod soon

By Joe Haggerty
CSNNE.com Bruins Insider Follow @hackswithhaggs
BOSTON -- Dont expect it to take very long before Tuukka Rask gets the call for the Bruins between the pipes. T

he 24-year-old Finnish netminder started only 29 games last season, and hasnt played in an NHL game non-preseason division since an April 10 loss to the New Jersey Devils in last years regular-season finale. He watched from the bench as Tim Thomas backstopped the Bruins to a Stanley Cup championship.

Like last preseason, when Claude Julien proclaimed the goaltending job a competition between a pair of No. 1 goaltenders, the coaching staff is approaching it the same way this season. That eventually led to the hot Thomas taking over the gig, but some forget the season actually began with Rask earning the opening night start in Prague against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Rask lost that first game in Europe, and Thomas never looked back after pitching a shutout in the second game of the season.

Fast forward to this season. Thomas was solid while giving up only two goals behind a leaky defense in the opener. While he will be 38 years old once the playoffs begin and played a whopping 82 games last season (regular season and playoffs), he's still the best goaltender in the world as the year begins.

So the temptation is to force-feed Thomas plenty of games to get the Bs off to a good start, but the reality is Rask will be getting the starting nod sooner rather than later.

I wanted to make clear from the get go that were going to utilize our goaltenders and utilize them properly, said Julien. Tuukka has had a great camp and played two really good exhibition games. I think he needs to play and youll see him in the lineup really soon.

He was great being supportive in the playoffs. But you want to make sure he still has that battle in him for ice time and not let the other guy get comfortable. Thats what competition is all about. You want to be ready. You dont want to say, This guy is playing so well that Im just going to give you the stage here. You want to be supportive when youre not playing, but you want to battle to stay on the ice. That doesnt just need to exist with the forwards and the defensemen, but it needs to exist with the goaltenders as well.

While theres a possibility Rask could play as soon as Saturday night against the Lightning, it might make more sense to slide Thomas back in against his Eastern Conference Finals foes and then call on the Finnish goalie for the Colorado Avalanche in the Columbus Day matinee.

Its imperative Rask play more games than he did last year to give Thomas the breather hell need, and that starts with the younger netminder being better than he was last season.

Rask acknowledges that, but hes not buying into any of the goalie controversy stuff.

Im just focusing on going out and playing hard every night, said Rask. The goalie rotation questions happen every year, right . . . whatever. You guys talk whenever you need to talk and we dont really care. It's fun for the audience, I guess.

Were just trying to do our job as well as we can and well see what happens. Its been a while since the last NHL action that Ive had in the regular season. So Im hoping to have a good start to the season. I shouldnt be too rusty. Well see.

Whether its Saturday or Monday, Rask will be getting the call more often this year and that will be a good thing for both the goaltender and the Black and Gold team he stops pucks for.

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

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

Julien wonders whether Bruins shutout loss was fatigue-related

BOSTON – The Bruins didn’t show anything on the ice in Monday afternoon’s 4-0 matinee loss, and that’s not really any kind of an overstatement.

The scoring chances were almost nonexistent despite 32 shots on net, the second period was dreadful as the Bruins gave up three goals over the course of a six minute span and there was zero added urgency in the third period once the B’s fell behind. The emotion was missing from the drop of the puck to open the game and it never showed up once the Islanders began taking control of the game.

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It was a bitterly disappointing result after the Black and Gold had played so well in their previous five games, and put in strong, winning efforts against the Panthers, Blues and Flyers.

On Monday afternoon, the passes were sloppy and errant all over the ice, there was zero physicality and the Bruins buckled once the Isles turned the intensity up just a little bit in the second period. The game was basically over once Nikolay Kulemin snapped one home wide open from the slot area with Torey Krug, Adam McQuaid and David Krejci all blowing their defensive assignments, and then Tuukka Rask followed it up by allowing a softie to Josh Bailey from a bad angle close to net.  

So Bruins head coach Claude Julien termed it a “flat” performance once it was all over with, and openly wondered whether it was fatigue-related result linked to the compacted schedule Boston has played through this season. Monday marked the seventh straight day that the Bruins held some kind of formal skate, though most of the veteran B's players stayed off the ice during last week's Wednesday off-day practice in Nashville.   

“We were flat tonight, obviously, flat from the get-go. I think that first half of the game, we didn’t give much until they scored that first goal. We were able to stay in, but we certainly weren’t generating much ourselves, from that point of view,” said Claude Julien. “His is really the first year, for me as well, going through a condensed schedule, and I’m certainly not using that as an excuse, is it fatigue?. . . But we were flat tonight. How do you explain it? I don’t know. I know that it’s frustrating. I know that it’s disappointing. That’s all I can say.

“Whether it’s mental fatigue, whatever it is. We made some mistakes tonight like, from the goals you look at, we weren’t even in the position that we’re normally in. So we were totally out of whack, as far as even defending. When you give that first goal that much room in the middle of the ice, your D’s go on the wrong side, your weak-side forward is way on the other side, and you open up the slot area, that’s something I haven’t seen much of this year. I think it said a lot from our game tonight.”

The compacted schedule certainly could be a factor for a Bruins team that’s played more games than anybody else in the Eastern Conference to this point, but the B’s also had 48 hours to recharge after winning a Saturday matinee over the Flyers. So the fatigue excuse seems a little far-fetched for a hockey club that’s no-showed a few too many times this season, and did it again on Monday afternoon against one of the worst teams in the NHL.