Notes and Quotes: Bruins-Lightning

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Notes and Quotes: Bruins-Lightning

BOSTON -- What to look for tonight when the Bruins play the Lightning:
PLAYER NEEDING HIS TIRES PUMPED: Tyler Seguin was held scoreless on the West Coast trip along with a minus-2 and only four shots on net. The 20-year-old dropped below 12 minutes of ice time in the third period against the Los Angeles Kings as he found himself on the bench and he appears to be going through one of the valleys of his season. With the third line carrying the offense for the last two weeks its high time for Bostons biggest offensive weapon to start getting involved again.

DRESSING ROOM MANTRA HEADED INTO THE GAME: Weve made steps in the right direction. That Tampa game was obviously an embarrassing game for us. If you asked every guy in here theyd tell you that wasnt our style of hockey. They came at us and played to the final buzzer, but we didnt show up at all in that game. Chris Kelly talking about the redemption on the minds of the Bruins after the Lightning thrashed them in Tampa.

KEY MATCHUP: It will be all about an energized Zdeno Chara, celebrating his 1,000thNHL game played in front of his home crowd for the first time, dropping the hammer down on Steven Stamkos. The Bruins have allowed seven goals in five games since putting the two defensemen together, and now theyll be going up against an elite sniper thats scored three goals in the last two games. Stamkos has also set the Tampa franchise record with 53 goals this season and itll be up to No. 33 to put the clamps down.

STAT TO WATCH: 11 the number of points Brian Rolston has in 15 games with the Bruins in a deal with the New York Islanders for B level prospects.

INJURIES: Tuukka Rask (groin strain) andf Nathan Horton (concussion) are both out without a return close in sight. Rich Peverley (knee) returned to the lineup and played 16 plus minutes Sunday afternoon. For the Lightningcenters Vincent Lecavalier (hand) and Nate Thompson (upper body) and right wing Adam Hall (upper body) are day-to-day. Mattias Ohlund (knees), Dana Tyrell (knee), Marc-Andre Bergeron (back), Mathieu Garon (lower body) and Ryan Shannon (upper body) are out. Lecavalier may be making a return against the Bruins tonight.

GOALTENDING MATCHUP: Tim Thomas finally got a rest after appearing in 16 straight games, and the 37-year-old should be at the top of his game after appearing to hit a groove over the last two weeks. Thomas is 3-1 with a .946 save percentage in his last four games, and appears to have found the second wind that eluded him when he made 16 straight appearances for the Bruins. Now its on to a Tampa, which is in the middle of a three-game winning streak.Dwayne Roloson is on a three-game winning streak his first since all the way back in November of this season and the 42-year-old should be getting the start in a rematch of Eastern Conference Final goaltenders from last year.

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

'Healthy' Rask ready to go with a lot to prove

BRIGHTON, Mass. – Tuukka Rask went through morning skate Tuesday at Warrior Ice Arena and proclaimed himself “healthy” to start against the Nashville Predators at TD Garden after sitting out Saturday with a lower body injury.

So, Rask will play his 60th game of the season tonight and the Bruins will hope that a dominating performance will douse some of the brush fire that’s cropped up around the Black and Gold’s goaltending situation. 

After Boston’s No. 1 goaltender coughed up five goals in a rough loss to Tampa and then sat out the must-win against the Islanders on Saturday night, questions about Rask’s big-game reliability are absolutely there after he also sat out last season’s pivotal finale against the Ottawa Senators.

Still, Rask said he hasn’t paid attention to the media scrutiny and is instead looking forward to locking up against fellow Finn Pekka Rinne of the Preds.

“I haven’t listened to the [media scrutiny], but I’m sure they’ve been very nice to me,” said Rask. “I don’t listen. I don’t read it. Doesn’t affect me. You know where you stand, and how good you play and when you don’t play good. That’s all you need. You don’t need to listen to the outside voices because it’s just going to distract you. People have opinions and they can say whatever they want.

“This is what we play for, right? It’s fun. It’s going to come down to the wire again and it’s going to be another battle tonight. I don’t even know how many games I’ve played. I feel good. I think I’ve said all throughout the year there’s going to be ups and downs, and you just try to stay even-keeled. It’s something that you learn not getting too high or too low, and just win as many games as you can.”

The bottom line with Rask is that there are major question marks about his standing as a No. 1 goaltender that he needs to address in these final seven games, media scrutiny or no media scrutiny. A No. 1 goalie worth $7 million per season can hold up with a 60-plus game workload and not fade down the stretch while in need of mental and physical breaks. 

The slender Rask has shown signs of slippage in his performance when the workload is heavy, and coach Bruce Cassidy admitted as much on Tuesday while not guaranteeing that his No. 1 will be able to play in six of the final seven games down the stretch.

“We’re trying to write our own story this year. I know how the last few years have ended, and we’d like a different ending,” said Cassidy. “I think this group should be afforded that right to write their own stories, and we’ll see how it plays out. Obviously last week did not play out well for us and we heard about it, and that’s part of the business.

“Saturday, hopefully we turned a corner, but we won’t know that until we get going forward here. I’m asking [Tuukka] to play well tonight, and I’m asking the players in front of him to play well tonight. The workload for Tuukka has to be monitored, and whether the whole world agrees with it or not, that’s the situation. I think the data backs up that he’s better with ‘X’ amount of rest and that’s just the way it is. It’s an inexact science and we’re trying to do a better job with that. The second half we’ve really tried to monitor it and last week was a bit of an exception. At crunch time things change a little bit, and that’s what we’re trying to balance.”

In an ideal world, a hockey team scratching and clawing for the Stanley Cup playoffs wouldn’t have to so closely monitor whether a goaltender is about to break down because he’s pushing 60 games in a season, especially when he’d enjoyed a five-day bye just a month earlier.

There are also questions about Rask’s reliability after sitting out last weekend, whether it was by his choice, the team’s choice or a mutually agreed upon decision after his lower body discomfort cropped up. A No. 1 goalie is no longer worthy of that lofty mantle when a team can’t rely on big-game performances from him, or even if he'll be available, once the pressure is on in the final weeks of the season.

So, there are plenty of questions to answer for Rask down the stretch here and they may go a long way toward determining his long-range future with an organization that invested heavily in him a few years ago. Those answers begin on Tuesday night against the Predators and it certainly feels like it will be game-to-game with him for final seven contests of the regular season. 
 

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

Report: Trump won't throw out first pitch

One White House tradition will have to wait, if it’s in fact maintained.

President Donald Trump is not going to throw out a ceremonial first pitch for the Washington Nationals this season, according to the Washington Post.

Post reporter Barry Svrugula wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that the White House declined an invitation from the Nats.

POLITICO reported early Tuesday morning that Trump was in talks to throw out the first pitch and that it was also possible he could spend an inning in the MASN booth.

President William Howard Taft began the custom of U.S. presidents throwing out a first pitch on April 14, 1910, at National Stadium in D.C.

According to The Week:

“Since Taft, every president not named Jimmy Carter has thrown out at least one Opening Day first pitch. The executive guests of honor followed in Taft's hefty footsteps, throwing the first ball from the stands, until the late 1980s when Ronald Reagan sauntered onto the mound and improved upon the tradition."

The most famous presidential pitch in recent memory is George W. Bush’s toss during the 2001 World Series at Yankee Stadium.

The Nats open their season on Monday at home in Washington D.C., in a 1:05 p.m. game against the Miami Marlins. A Nationals Magic 8 Ball is to be given away to the first 20,000 fans.

The Red Sox happen to play the Nats in a pair of exhibitions right before the season, on Friday and Saturday. Friday’s game is at the Nats’ home park in D.C. Saturday’s game is to be played in Annapolis, Md., at the U.S. Naval Academy.