|Tuukka Rask: ‘As a team I thought it wasn’t our best defensive game’||06.20.13 at 3:06 am ET|
When you give up six goals in a Stanley Cup finals game, you’re not going to feel real good about your performance. But Tuukka Rask knows enough that when the Bruins allow six goals, it’s more of a defensive breakdown than anything else.
Rask allowed a playoff-high six goals Wednesday night, including the overtime game-winner by Brent Seabrook 10 minutes into the extra period as the Bruins lost Game 4, 6-5, and watched as the Blackhawks won back home ice advantage in the series.
“It’s not fun, but we battled back many times, didn’t make it easy on ourselves,” Rask said. “At the end of the day, it’s a one-goal game. They get it. We just made it too tough on ourselves. Not our best night.”
Rask faced several odd-man rushes that led to scoring chances or loose rebounds, like the one that Patrick Kane finished in the second period on a backhander that left Rask sprawling across his crease, trying to stop the shot in vain.
“The got a lot of shots through and a lot of second opportunities,” Rask said. “You know, you let six goals as a goalie, you can’t be satisfied, but as a team I thought it wasn’t our best defensive game.”
As for the Seabrook winner from the right point, Rask was fighting through traffic provided by Jonathan Toews in front. By the time he saw the puck, it was ticketed far side and Rask had no chance of stopping it.
“I saw it at the last second,” Rask said. “There was some traffic in front, just couldn’t make a stretch.”
It wasn’t just the fact the Bruins were outshot 47-33. The Blackhawks made good on their promise to make it harder on Rask, who was on pace to set a new Bruins postseason record for fewest goals against and save percentage.
“They just got shots through,” Rask said. “I wasn’t able to make saves or we weren’t able to block shots. They got those rebounds, that makes the difference.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘a very, very difficult team to play against’||06.18.13 at 1:14 pm ET|
NBC Sports hockey analyst Pierre McGuire checked in with Mut & Merloni on Tuesday to dissect the Bruins’ 2-0 victory in Monday’s Game 3.
The B’s frustrated the Blackhawks by limiting Chicago’s scoring opportunities.
“First of all, [the Bruins] were really doing a good job controlling the puck and controlling the neutral zone and dictating the terms of the game, that’s No. 1 and 2,” McGuire said. “I think the third thing they did, obviously, is they were able to get last change, so they had the matchups they wanted. Not having Marian Hossa in the lineup for Chicago really hurt them in terms of manufacturing offense. ‘¦ That’s a big loss for Chicago; that’s not Boston’s fault.
“And then for both teams, the ice conditions. Tuukka Rask alluded to it when I interviewed him, and Dennis Seidenberg and I talked about it after the game. The ice conditions were not good. I could tell in the morning they weren’t going to be good because of the humidity in the city of Boston yesterday. There’s not a building in the league that would have had good ice yesterday, just because of the humidity. You’ve got to hope it cools off.
“But Boston’s doing exactly what they did to Pittsburgh: They’re killing the stars. Look at the hits on Jonathan Toews. They’re just crushing him. Hey, that’s all fair game in hockey. That’s part of the sport.”
McGuire also praised the Bruins defense and noted: “You add in the Patrice Bergeron factor and the faceoff-winning factor for the Bruins, and they’re a very, very difficult team to play against.”
McGuire noted that the Blackhawks’ comeback in Game 1 might have come at a cost.
“The one thing I’ll you that I don’t think is getting talked about enough: The wear and tear of Game 1, the three overtimes, I think it took a lot more out of Chicago, even though they won, compared to what it took out of Boston. I really do,” he said.
|Barry Pederson on D&C: Tuukka Rask ‘making it look easy’||at 11:33 am ET|
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined the Dennis & Callahan show Tuesday morning to talk about the Bruins’ win in Game 3, the value of team defense and Tuukka Rask‘s technically sound play in goal.
Pederson said that the Bruins team defense has played consistently well throughout the playoffs and has been key in winning not only the physical battle but the mental battle.
‘We have seen it whether it was Toronto, the Rangers, Chicago in here or Pittsburgh,’ Pederson said. ‘It is the fact that they’re breaking the will of the opponent. It is so frustrating to go out there and every time you get the puck, [Zdeno] Chara is taking away your space, he is running you through the boards, you think you’ve got an open lane and you go to throw it across and all of a sudden [Dennis] Seidenberg is in there with his stick, with his feet. They just don’t give you an inch.
‘After a while it is almost like when you have a horse and you saddle-break him. Once his shoulders roll on you, you know you have the horse’s spirit broken and you have a chance of breaking him and getting him saddle-broken. Here’s the situation to me where you can see it on the ice where guys are going, ‘OK, we are ready, Chicago. Here comes our energy.’ And it’s like, ‘Oh, this just ain’t happening.’ They’re just frustrating them.’
That strong team defense is a testament to Claude Julien sticking with his defensive system and having his players buy into it. It is also the result of general manager Peter Chiarelli bringing in players that fit Julien’s system well and are willing to play hard on the defensive end every night.
Pederson said that one thing that makes Chiarelli successful is that he is willing to pay players for their contributions on the defensive end — not just the offensive end.
‘What happens a lot of times is somebody says, ‘OK, we want to play a certain style and we want to reward these guys for being successful, but yet they’re playing team defense,’ ‘ Pederson said. ‘A lot of times throughout the season when things aren’t going well it’s like, ‘We just don’t have enough offense. We don’t have those stars like [Evgeni] Malkin and [Sidney] Crosby who can generate a lot of goals.’ But champions, as we know, are known for both sides of the puck. Not only the offense, but it’s that great, smothering team defense and the structure and the layers they have defensively.
‘It has been very important also for Peter Chiarelli to reward these players for not only their offense that they show us by being maybe a point-a-game guy, but they are capable on other teams of probably being 80- or 90-point seasons, but they’re not. They are giving it up for the team and they are doing it the right way.’
Tuukka Rask was the beneficiary of the strong team defense in the Bruins’ win in Game 3, as he was protected well in his 28-save shutout Monday. However, Pederson said he thinks Rask may not be getting the credit he deserves because he is making it look easier than it is.
‘I think one of the things that we are getting ourselves maybe into a bad habit of, is because Tuukka is so sound technically and is so much in control of his emotions right now, he is making it look easy,’ Pederson said. ‘It’s not as easy as it looks. He is just attacking the shooters correctly. When he goes down he is taking up space, his belly is not touching the ice, he is standing up straight with his chest, he is controlling his rebounds.
‘A couple of times last night you could see the shifts were getting long and the Bruins needed a whistle. They are coming down the right side and they shoot the puck. He is able to control the rebound and throw it outside of the rink to get yourself a stop or a whistle. He has done a great job. He will be the first to tell you that his team in front of him is playing very well defensively, but I also think his teammates will tell you, ‘Hey, listen, he is playing so well right now and he is so locked in, he is making it look easier than it actually is.’ ‘
As hard as the crew inside TD Garden tried Monday, the ice was hardly suitable for two of the best hockey teams in the world to do battle. But battle they did.
There were bouncing pucks all night. There were players like Brad Marchand losing control on what appeared to be a certain shorthanded breakaway. There were pucks jumping over defensemen’s sticks as they tried to keep the puck in the offensive zone.
In short, this is what happens when you play on a humid 80-degree day in mid-June in Boston. The Garden is typically an ice-box in the winter because there is no in-house dehumidifier in the building. As they did in 2011, TD Garden tried to fix the humidity issue by bringing in high-tech dehumidifiers beginning with the Penguins series. On Monday, they didn’t do much good as far as the ice was concerned.
Asked if he thought the conditions were “crappy,” Dennis Seidenberg tried to be as kind as possible but couldn’t help but state the obvious.
“It is pretty bad,” Seidenberg said. “When you try to shoot, try to swing your blade on the ice, it feels like it’s sandpaper. It’s really rough. When you try to pass, the puck bounces. That’s why you have to keep the game simple, like I said. If there’s a play to be made, you have to make sure it’s an easy one. If not, you rather choose to go over the wall and out.
“Again, there was breakdowns today, but we seemed to cover them up a little bit better than the other side.”
It’s similar to when infielders complain about the dirt at Fenway Park, a common occurrence in the 1960s and 70s and, to a lesser degree, today.
Then there’s the perspective of the goalie. Tuukka Rask has already had one episode on the sketchy ice of Madison Square Garden – leading to the “butt stumble” in Game 4 of the Eastern semis that the Rangers won in overtime. Monday, Rask avoided an embarrassing repeat, no thanks to the ice conditions.
“The ice was pretty good in the start of the periods,” Rask said. “Then pretty quickly it got really chippy. It’s tough to get the read off of shots when it’s really a mess out there with the ice. You just got to be extra careful with the crazy bounces and stuff. You don’t want to make any stupid mistakes playing the puck either. You just got to be extra careful.”
|Tuukka Rask shuts out Blackhawks as Bruins take Game 3||06.17.13 at 10:49 pm ET|
For once, overtime was not necessary between the Bruins and Blackhawks as the B’s took a 2-1 series lead in the Stanley Cup finals with a 2-0 victory in Game 3 at TD Garden.
Tuukka Rask picked up his third shutout of the playoffs (and the last seven games), as the B’s outplayed the Blackhawks in the most decidedly won game of the series thus far. Rask faced 27 shots, stopping them all .
The new third line of Chris Kelly between Daniel Paille and Tyler Seguin was once again strong for the Bruins, scoring and drawing penalties. Paille opened the game’s scoring in the second period, and after drawn penalties from Kelly and then Paille, Patrice Bergeron made it 2-0 with his second power play goal of the series.
Tempers boiled over late in the game, with Zdeno Chara and Bryan Bickell going at it in in front of the net. As the two fought, Brad Marchand and Andrew Shaw got tangled up in what was the hockey equivalent of Ross and Russ fighting in Friends.
Game 4 will be played Wednesday in Boston before the series heads back to Chicago for Game 5.
WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS
– Yes, it’s more impressive that the Bruins went four games without allowing a point to the likes of Sidney Crosby and some of the Penguins‘ other offensive stars, but let’s realize that they’re doing it to the Blackhawks too. Patrick Sharp’s goal in Game 2, which was assisted by Patrick Kane and Michael Handzus, is the only goal the Blackhawks have gotten out of their top-six this series. As a result, the top two lines have been in flux for the Blackhawks. That wasn’t helped by Marian Hossa’s absence due to what is believed to be an injury suffered in warmups.
– Patrice Bergeron is a man. In addition to his six shots on goal in the first 40 minutes alone, he went 19-3 on draws in the first two periods, including a perfect 8-0 against Michael Handzus.
– It would have been logical to think the Bruins would have a hard time winning the Stanley Cup without Jaromir Jagr scoring, but his pass to Bergeron on Boston’s second goal was enough to quiet that talk. With Milan Lucic set up in front of the net on the power play and Jagr at the bottom of the right circle, Jargr sent a saucer pass through Lucic to Bergeron at the bottom of the left circle. Crawford, like everybody else, thought he pass was headed for Lucic in front, so he wasn’t in position to stop Bergeron, who took his time before firing a wrist shot into the plenty of open net he had to work with.
It wasn’t all good for Jagr, has he had a comically bad drop-pass to nobody in the final five minutes of the game that made for an easy turnover as Kane and the Blackhawks took it the other way.
– The Blackhawks are just wretched on the power play. They had just one shot on goal in their two first-period power plays combined, and it was the Bruins who had more scoring opportunities during Thornton’s power play. Rich Peverley had a scoring chance, Daniel Paille nearly beat Crawford to the puck when the Chicago goalie came way out of his net and Brad Marchand had a shorthanded breakaway in the final seconds of the penalty. He lost the puck while dekeing, which prompted him to break his stick on the bench afterwards.
– That third line is money, and I honestly don’t think there has been a stretch all season in which the Bruins’ third line has had two notable good games in a row. Paille had a heck of a game, getting to a loose puck from Bolland at the right circle and wheeling around to fire it past Crawford. He was rewarded for his season of strong offensive play by getting some power play time in the second period, and it was in the final 15 or so seconds on that power play that he drew a tripping penalty to set up the power play on which Bergeron scored.
Paille wasn’t the only third-liner to draw a penalty. Chris Kelly beat Bolland to a puck and got cross-checked by Bolland in the offensive zone in the second period to set up the power play on which Paille drew his penalty.
WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS
– The Bruins aren’t playing their fourth line much this round, so they don’t need them taking penalties when they do get ice time. Both Kaspars Daugavins and Shawn Thornton took roughing penalties in the first period and were bailed out by the fact that Chicago can’t score a power play goal. It was a forgettable night in general for Daugavins, who was called for offsides twice — including what would have been a breakaway when he got out of the box, but he put himself offsides. You don’t see that every day.
|What they’re saying in the Windy City: Tuukka Rask is really good, Bruins are outhitting Blackhawks, Jonathan Toews needs to step it up||at 1:09 pm ET|
Chicago sportswriters realized over the weekend what Bruins fans have known for quite some time: Tuukka Rask is really, really good.
Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune writes that Rask has been the Bruins’ ‘saving grace,’ his 1.73 goals-against average and .944 save percentage in the playoffs a huge reason the Bruins have gotten this far. She credits Rask, who collected 33 saves Saturday’s Game 2 overtime win, with preventing the game from ‘spinning wildly out of the Bruins’ control.’
Count Tyler Seguin among those appreciative of the netminder’s performance.
‘He shows on a consistent basis why we have so much confidence in him, but he also gives us more motivation to do it for him sometimes,” Seguin said. “Especially if you look at [Saturday’s] game, it could have been 4-0 or 5-0 after the first. We weren’t ready. We were on our heels, and they were playing great. He kept us in the game.”
Kane quotes Rask, however, as staying his usual, humble ‘ albeit tired after not sleeping much Saturday night ‘ self.
“I don’t try to prove anything to anybody else but for myself and my teammates,” Rask said. “I always feel like I’m in a zone. ‘¦ It’s nothing different. It’s just another game.’
|Shawn Thornton on D&C: No excuse for Bruins’ slow start in Game 2, ‘can’t let it happen again’||at 9:50 am ET|
The Bruins were outshot 19-4 in the first period of Saturday night’s Game 2, but some inspiring words in the locker room got the B’s motivated and they responded with a 2-1 overtime win. Thornton wouldn’t reveal which players led the talk, but he said the feeling in the room was mutual.
“We knew we were not good enough,” he said. “But we also brought up the fact that even though we were terrible, that was probably as good as they were going to be be, and maybe as bad as we were going to be, that Tuukka [Rask] gave us a chance to only be down 1-0. If we could regroup, then we could get things going.”
Thornton said while the Bruins started slow, the Blackhawks deserve some credit for dominating the opening 20 minutes.
“I don’t have a reasoning for [the slow start]. All I can say is it wasn’t good enough, and we can’t let it happen again,” Thornton said. “Give them credit, though. They came out flying. They were ready from the drop of the puck. They really pushed the pace. We’re fortunate to have [Rask] in there backstopping. If it wasn’t for him, it would have been a lot different.”
Pressed as to why the Bruins came out so flat, Thornton said: “I have no idea. My only thought is maybe it took 20 minutes for guys to get their legs underneath them after the long game [Wednesday]. But I don’t want to sound like excuses, because there isn’t. I have no idea why everyone wasn’t ready to go right from the drop of the puck. There’s no excuse for it.”
Thornton said he expects a stronger start in Game 3.
“It better be,” he said. “We’re at home, we should be able to feed off our crowd and be ready to go for the drop of the puck. The good news is it’s an 8 o’clock game [the first two games started at 7 p.m. Chicago time]. Last time we didn’t show up ’til 8.”