There’s no goalie controversy with the Bruins – at least certainly not in the eyes of coach Claude Julien.
Tuukka Rask wore the honorary “Red Rooster” T-shirt after turning away 23-of-25 shots in a 3-2 shootout win over the Maple Leafs on Monday night at TD Garden. After allowing two goals on the first nine shots he faced, both of which he had little chance of stopping, Rask was spectacular down the stretch, making several key saves in the final two minutes of regulation and two late in overtime to allow the Bruins to escape with two points.
Eyebrows were raised last week when Rask’s backup Anton Khudobin started back-to-back games against Ottawa and Toronto after the Rask lost games to Pittsburgh and Winnipeg to start the road trip.
Despite Rask’s 15-4-3 record, a sparkling .928 save percentage and a 1.90 goals against (second-best in the NHL), there were some murmurs that the Bruins might be closer to a platoon situation in net than anyone expected. Julien put that to rest Monday night.
“Well I don’t think Tuukka’s been bad at all,” Julien said. “I think you know, I hope people didn’t read into Khudobin playing two games, because I think Khudobin deserved to play two games. He’s played well all season long, he played well in Ottawa, and this was an opportunity to get him two games in a row and that’s all it was.
“You know, we’ve got a busy week this week and I needed Tuukka fresh and that’s all it was. So certainly had nothing to do with that. And Tuukka to me has been good and he’s never been bad, he’s been great and he’s been good. But you know, we’ve gotten some pretty good games out of him and I don’t think we can necessarily point the finger at him for losing any games for us this year.”
As a matter of fact, Rask didn’t even get that second game off as Khudobin was pulled after allowing three goals on 11 shots Saturday night in Toronto and Rask was sent in to try and salvage matters.
Rask and Khudobin have teamed to make a very effective combination this season, as the pair has combined for a 2.10 goals against, the second-best in the NHL this season. Khudobin gave Rask some advice on the final shootout save on Nikolai Kumelin, who beat him on a breakaway in the second period, the save that won the game.
“He made the same kind of move in that breakaway, and then Anton told me that’s the only move he’s got, so I kind of threw my blocker there and then just tried to stay with him and made my block,” Rask said.
Then came the kicker from the coach.
Asked whether Rask seemed to take the message of rest and being at full strength the right way, Julien said that’s up to each individual, pointing out that sometimes players – like Tim Thomas – can be quirky and hard to read.
“I don’t know, I think it’s one of those things that everybody reads it whichever way they can. And you know that from the goaltender last year,” Julien said.