|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: Make no mistake, Tuukka Rask still is team’s No. 1 goalie||03.26.13 at 11:21 am ET|
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.
|Barry Pederson on D&C: ‘As Bruins fans, you’ve got to be ecstatic’ about proposed realignment||02.27.13 at 9:39 am ET|
Barry Pederson of NESN joined Dennis & Callahan on Wednesday morning to talk about the Bruins’ strengths so far, Brad Marchand and Tyler Seguin‘s styles of play, and the newly proposed NHL realignment plan.
“I think it makes total sense,” Pederson said of the realignment plan, which would reconfigure the league into four divisions. “As Bruins fans, you’ve got to be ecstatic. You’ve got Detroit coming into this, what’s going to be called the Central Division, you’ve got four Original Six teams, some rivals, Buffalo still in there, and [Andy Brickley] will be happy because you still have Tampa Bay and Florida and he can go down and play some golf now and then. As Bruins fans, it’s a pretty good setup.”
Pederson said he thinks Marchand’s attitude, even more so than his speed or his hands, is his greatest strength, although his speed combined with Seguin’s creates space for their line to work.
“I don’t think he gets enough respect around the league for his offense because of the way he plays,” Pederson said of Marchand. “Marchand is sneaky offensively. Last night, he gets that puck on his backhand, he knows that [Evgeni] Nabokov‘s going to come diving out at him — he just waits and waits and then is able to get the goal. He’s got a great release. His speed really backs the defense off, and he and Seguin, when they’re going, they’re hard to play against.”
Despite speculation that Tim Thomas will never end up playing for the Islanders after being traded there, Pederson said he thinks Thomas is too competitive to walk away from hockey completely if he’s still capable of playing.
“I have no insight, for sure, to what’s going through his mind, but … to me there was a guy that never quit on anything,” Pederson said. “He went after shots that most guys would just say, ‘Oh, it’s an empty net, I’m not going to dive over there.’ So I just have a really hard time thinking he’s going to walk away from the game the way it’s going. I just have to think he’s coming back at some point.”
|Peter Chiarelli still doesn’t expect Tim Thomas to play this season||02.07.13 at 7:06 pm ET|
Speaking to the media on a conference call following the trade of Tim Thomas to the Islanders, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said Thursday that based on his discussions with agent Bill Zito, he does not expect Thomas to play for the Islanders this season.
“Nothing would suggest to me that he’s coming back this season, no, in my discussions with the agent,” Chiarelli said.
Thomas is in the final year of his deal, and Thursday’s trade would net the Bruins a draft pick in 2014 or 2015 if Thomas plays a game.
“Without getting into specifics, the condition [of the pick] is basically if he plays,” Chiarelli said. “There’s a bunch of different ways how to couch how he plays or where he plays or when he plays, but it’s if he plays.”
Chiarelli said at the open of training camp that Thomas still planned on playing next season, but said that talks with Zito led him to believe he “misstated” that information.
Said Chiarelli: “It’s better stated, coming from Bill, that he’s still contemplating playing next year.”
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|Bruins trade Tim Thomas to Islanders||at 5:35 pm ET|
The Bruins have traded goaltender Tim Thomas to the Islanders in exchange for a conditional second-round pick in 2014 or 2015.
Thomas, 38, is in the final year of his contract but is not playing this season. His contract calls for a $3 million salary but his cap hit is $5 million (Thomas had salaries of $6 million in each of the first two years of the four-year, $20 million deal). Thomas reportedly still does not intend to play this season, as the move was made by the Islanders in order to get over the salary cap floor by Friday and thus be compliant with the salary cap.
The pick sent to the Bruins is conditional on Thomas playing one game for the Islanders, meaning they will not receive it if Thomas sticks to his plan of sitting out the season.
Thomas, a ninth round pick of the Nordiques in 1994, signed with the Bruins prior to the 2002-03 season and eventually established himself as one of the greatest goaltenders in league history. He won the Vezina Trophy in both 2008-09 and 2010-11 and led the B’s to a Stanley Cup championship in 2011 as the Conn Smythe winner.
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|Tuukka Rask thinks Tim Thomas got a bad rap||01.15.13 at 12:39 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask tried to call Tim Thomas recently, only to find that the embattled netminder had changed his phone number. That’s not a huge surprise for Thomas, who lost much of the good faith he had built up in Boston as he made his political beliefs increasingly public over the course of last season before eventually deciding to take this year off.
Rask, who is taking over for Thomas as the Bruins’ No. 1 goaltender, finally got to catch up with his former teammate when Milan Lucic got a hold of the Thomas’ new phone number and shared it with teammates interested in getting in touch with him. The two spoke over the last few days in what Rask called more of a “‘hey, how ya doing’ type of thing’ than anything else, but consider that Rask, who shared the Bruins’ net with Thomas over the last three seasons was probably closer to him than anyone else on the Bruins, was just happy to catch up.
“He’s enjoying his life right now with the family and the time off,” Rask said. “I was glad to hear that.”
Thomas is now living in Colorado with his family. The move was planned during last season, but when asked in December about his intentions, Thomas was guarded and said he wasn’t ready to address his plans past the season. Things went south from there when Thomas skipped the team’s visit to the White House and began using his Facebook page to express his thoughts about such topics as the government, birth control and Dan Cathy after the Chick-fil-A president made anti-gay remarks.
The less-candid Thomas caught a ton of flak from the media (present company included) and fans, but as a teammate, he wasn’t any different. Rask and Thomas got along well, and Rask said Tuesday that he felt Thomas may have gotten a bad rap.
“The things you read in the media, I don’t read that stuff because we didn’t talk about political things or anything like that,” Rask said. “We just talk about hockey and stupid stuff like guys usually do. Everybody believes in what they believe in. You’ve got to respect that.
“It’s all about the choices you make,” he added. “Knowing him, he doesn’t really care about what anybody thinks. He stands behind his opinions, and I really respect that. It didn’t affect our relationship at all.”
Thomas was very much his own man. He made it about himself often, but Rask didn’t see the harm in that considering the position they play.
“I think as a goalie, you have to be kind of like that,” he said. “Some guys might take it to an extreme. You’re part of the team, but you’re still an individual. You’re by yourself out there, so you kind of have to have that mentality to be kind of selfish in a certain way to be able to become a successful goalie.”
|Peter Chiarelli: Tim Thomas wants to play next season||01.13.13 at 11:14 am ET|
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli provided a minor update on the status of goaltender Tim Thomas, who is not playing this year despite being under contract for this season.
Thomas, a two-time Vezina winner and the recipient of the 2011 Conn Smythe, is spending the year in Colorado with his family and will be suspended by the team when he does not show up by 10 a.m. on Monday, but Chiarelli said that the 38-year-old has told him that he does intend to play next season.
“Tim’s not going to show up, and he’s told us that he’s not playing for the year and wants to play next year,” Chiarelli said. “As late as last week he’s told me that through his agent, so we’ll end up suspending him and we want to do it in a non-adverserial way. I’ll talk to the agent and we’ll agree to some sort of set of facts and remedies and that will be it.”
With Tuukka Rask taking over as the No. 1 goaltender, it would appear that Thomas’ time with the B’s is done. There had been talk that the B’s could send Thomas, who has one year left on his contract with a $3 million salary and $5 million cap hit, to a team that needs to get to the salary floor. Chiarelli doesn’t see that scenario playing out, but he could still trade Thomas eventually.
“He will be on our cap unless I trade him,” Chiarelli said. “With the floor as it is — $44 million — there’s probably not the opportunity to move him to a team that needs to get to the floor, so it’s a bit of a standstill. He’s on our cap.”
Chiarelli said the Bruins have the ability to require Thomas to give them another year under the same terms of his contract, but that it’s “too early to tell” whether the B’s will do that. It would seem unlikely that they would do that and keep him, as the Bruins’ cap situation for next season (just under $7 million in space without Rask signed) is tight as it is, leaving them no room for Thomas’ $5 million cap hit.
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