|Will the playoffs be the time for Tuukka Rask to shine?||04.26.13 at 4:58 pm ET|
The last time Tuukka Rask started a playoff game was one all Bruins fans would like to forget.
It was May 14, 2010. Rask was spotted a 3-0 lead in the first period of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals against the Flyers. The Bruins would lose the game on a power play goal by Simon Gagne when the Bruins were called for too many men on the ice.
The game marked Boston’s collapse after going up 3-0 in the series and three goals in the final game on home ice. Rask was thrown into the spotlight that season when Tim Thomas was nursing an injured hip that eventually required surgery. Rask was 7-6 in the playoffs that season with a 2.61 goals against and a .912 save percentage. Not bad but a lot of Bruins fans felt Rask was exposed.
Of course, that was all forgiven 12 months later as Thomas and the Bruins won their sixth Stanley Cup in history.
Now, Thomas is gone. It’s Tuukka’s time to shine, and shine is exactly what Rask has done this season. He has five shutouts, including a 2-0 blanking of the Lightning on Thursday in which he turned aside all 30 shots. He is a leading candidate for the Vezina Trophy awarded to the top goalie, sporting a 19-9-4 record with a sparkling 1.97 goals against and a .930 save percentage.
There’s no doubt he’s the goalie going into the playoffs. Still, there were questions about Rask and the Bruins in the last three weeks, as the team has struggled with consistency.
How important was Thursday night in terms of confidence? Even Rask isn’t sure it means all that much.
“I don’t know. I guess you always try to take the positives no matter how it goes, but the playoffs is a different season,” Rask said. “Everybody knows that. I just try to feel comfortable out there and play the game one at a time.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Claude Julien on bounceback win: ‘I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for reaction’||at 12:59 am ET|
After his team shut out the Lightning, 2-0, to clinch home ice in the first round of the playoffs, Bruins coach Claude Julien said he was happy with his team’s response to Tuesday night’s loss in Philadelphia.
“Like I said [Thursday] morning, we’re going to find out quickly if it was just a little bump in the road or whether it was a step back,” Julien said. “I thought our guys played hard tonight. I’m not looking for perfection, I’m looking for reaction.”
What kind of reaction?
“Reaction, to play with some emotion, play with some grit, desire, determination,” Julien added. “I saw all those things tonight. The identity of our team is as such, we’re a team that prides ourselves on being a physical team, a team that’s hard to play against. We have to create that, the rest of the game will come along. That’s what we’re looking to see from our guys for 60 minutes and I think they did a good job of playing a full 60 tonight.
Tuukka Rask was a big part of the reaction Thursday, turning back all 30 shots in recording his fifth shutout of the season.
“Overall, I thought we played hard, we moved the puck quickly, when there was a breakdown Tuukka was there to make the big saves. I was pretty happy with the game, I know that if we keep playing that way we’ll only get bet better.”
|Brad Marchand: ‘I was definitely fighting back tears’||04.18.13 at 11:19 am ET|
Bergeron hadn’t played since April 2, a span of six games. Marchand missed the last two games since being elbowed by Anton Volchenkov of the Devils.
Neither player figured in the scoring but both had a positive signs of bouncing back on a night the city of Boston looked to bounce back.
“They both played well and they both played hard,” their coach Claude Julien said after Boston’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Sabres. “You know, it’s unfortunate they didn’t get rewarded with anything tonight, but they had some great opportunities. And you’ve got to give their goaltender credit; he played extremely well for them tonight and allowed them to stay in that 2-1 game for a long time. I think had there been another goaltender it could have been a totally different story.”
Marchand, like everyone in the building, wasn’t thinking about himself but rather being part of something bigger during the national anthem.
Never were the emotions higher than during the national anthem for Marchand.
“It was extremely emotional. I was definitely fighting back tears,” he said. “To see again how everyone was reacting to that video, it obviously touched not only people who were here tonight but everyone at home, too, watching. It’s something that we’ll never forget. For everyone to show their respect and obviously give their thoughts and prayers for everyone, it’s great that everyone is kind of coming together at this time and helping each other out.” Read the rest of this entry »
Whether player, coach or team staffer, Wednesday night was a night of solidarity.
That was a point made unmistakably clear by Bruins coach Claude Julien, even after a 3-2 loss to the Sabres at TD Garden.
Julien was asked about his reaction to the fans singing the national anthem and the “We are Boston” chants throughout the game.
“Well, I think like everybody else, it was pretty emotional,” Julien said. “In a way, it made you feel proud of this city and of our fans of this solidarity that was shown throughout this whole thing. Certainly, like I said, proud of this city for how they responded.
“The national anthem was pretty touching. And, obviously, everything that they did. I remember the video, I remember the national anthem and we even saw those people up there on the screen in the TV timeouts. And looking up there and realizing that those guys have done an unbelievable job for this city throughout this crisis and we should be grateful to a lot of people and we should also feel for the people that are going through it right now. I think we still do.”
Did it ever felt like a normal hockey game to Julien and his staff?
“I don’t know,” Julien said. “I think through it all, our guys really wanted to battle hard and make it happen. We had a lot of chances and, sure we probably didn’t bury those and we’d like to be better in regards to that, but the main goal is to go out there and really play well for the cause and I thought we played a really decent game. Unfortunately, sometimes bounces don’t go your way. They tied it up late in the game and I thought we probably deserved to win at that point.” Read the rest of this entry »
|Video: With national anthem, Bruins fans show just how Boston Strong they are||04.17.13 at 8:26 pm ET|
In one of the most powerful and stirring moments in recent Boston sports history, Bruins fans took over for national anthem singer Rene Rancourt Wednesday night, singing the entire national anthem in tribute to the victims and the heroes from Monday’s Boston Marathon attacks that killed three and left over 170 injured. Before the anthem, the Bruins showed a wonderfully crafted video tribute to the first responders who rescued victims from the carnage on Boylston Street. That video – courtesy of the Boston Bruins – is below.
|Anton Volchenkov suspended 4 games for elbowing Brad Marchand||04.11.13 at 2:18 pm ET|
The justice for Brad Marchand was swift.
Devils defenseman Anton Volchenkov has been suspended for four games, without pay, for elbowing Marchand during Wednesday’s game in New Jersey.
The National Hockey League’s Department of Player Safety announced the ruling Thursday afternoon.
The incident occurred at 15:11 of the second period. Volchenkov was assessed a five-minute major for elbowing and a game misconduct (per Rule 45). [The NHL details the hit and the explanation for the suspension in the video below].
Under the terms of the Collective Bargaining Agreement, and based on his average annual salary, Volchenkov will forfeit $91,891.88. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.
|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. Read the rest of this entry »