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.

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.