Bruins know Tuukka Rask can do only so much to save the D
|04.09.13 at 11:20 am ET|
Tuukka Rask can only do so much.
He’s been outstanding in the last week, turning away 40 shots in a 1-0 shutout last Thursday over the Devils and making another 40 saves Monday night in a 6-2 win over the Hurricanes.
And in some ways, Monday’s performance in what looked like a blowout on paper was more impressive than the shutout.
The Hurricanes opened the game with a five-minute flurry of action in front of Rask, trying to get that all-important first goal to set the tempo for the game. Rask turned away the first eight shots and allowed the Bruins to find their scoring touch.
Boston scored twice in the first eight minutes and took the spirit out of Carolina. After Monday’s 40-save effort, Rask was asked if all the action is sharpening him up for the playoffs that start in just over two weeks.
“I don’t know,” Rask said. “I’ve felt sharp throughout the year, trying to be calm and just poised out there. It’s been good the past three games so I’m just trying to work on that and keep that up.
“I think defensively we’ve been pretty good, if you look at the goals against. I don’t think we’re the best we can be in that area. Especially today, a couple let downs there. Still we’ve been pretty solid defensively, that’s our bread and butter, as you know, it was good to see that offense get going. Every team goes through phases like that. I don’t blame the guys because they’re trying and sometimes you just don’t have it. It was good to see.”
While defenseman Dennis Seidenberg had three assists, he remains concerned about the team’s defensive approach – or lack thereof.
“I don’t know,” he said. “We’re getting into that phase of the season that we have to get sharp for the playoffs, and we only have I think 10 games left now, and it comes down to the wire for us to get into playing playoff hockey, and just playing that style of hockey makes you successful going into the postseason.
“If [Rask] doesn’t stop the puck we’re behind in the game, and you know how the game changes once the team is up. They sit back, so we got lucky in the first. Obviously we converted on those chances, but if we had fallen behind it would have been tough to come back from. It’s been a few games now that we haven’t been sharp in the first period. I don’t know how many games we’ve given up the first goal and had to battle back or try to come from behind, but tonight Tuukka saved us, kept us 0-0, and we luckily scored.”
Rask knows how very important these next two weeks will be in establishing the right defensive trend for postseason.
“Yeah I think so,” he said. “I think we kind of have to build that momentum in the last 10 games or whatever we have left. Build it off of the defense and try to get that offense going like we can. Sometimes it feels like we are trading those chances and I get a lot of shots, it plays into my advantage, but I don’t think in the long run that would be a good idea.
“I mean there’s always room to improve. I think sticking with the structure and not getting caught running around and stuff like that. Keeping our heads up and protecting that net front, I think that’s the biggest thing.”
Claude Julien wants to see a defensive urgency in front of Rask in the final two weeks.
“There’s no doubt, we need to see that urgency to get ourselves better,” Julien said. “Although defensively we weren’t very good, it was a step in the right direction, as far as being a little bit better offensively. We’ve got to carry that into the next game, where it’s going to be even tougher, against a Devils team that doesn’t give much. But at the same time, hopefully we’re better defensively as well.”
Rask isn’t nearly as hard on the defense in front of him as fans and his own teammates are.
“For me, it’s a little tougher to say because I was watching, but I don’t think we’re awful,” he said. “We are giving up chances, but for example [Monday], our decision making, we just couldn’t get our break-outs going and stuff like that. And we turned it over a couple too many times. The biggest thing is just doing the job you’re supposed to do and not trying to do another guys job because then everything just falls down. I think that is what our focus has to be in the future, just trying to be compact out there and protect the net. That’s a big thing, trusting one another and being confident.”