|Should Tuukka Rask be playing more?||10.25.11 at 8:44 pm ET|
An interesting point was raised regarding Bruins goaltending during Peter Chiarelli‘s conference call with the media Tuesday. Remember when the Bruins said their intention was to play Tuukka Rask more than last season, especially early on?
Rask has started just two games this season, allowing one goal to Avalanche in the B’s 1-0 loss in the third game of the season, and allowing four goals last Tuesday against the Hurricanes. As was the case last season, Tim Thomas has been the No. 1 guy by a large margin as far as starts goes.
“In fairness to Tuukka, he probably should have gotten another start here or there, but you see Tim, how he’s playing, and you want him to recapture some of the stuff that he had last year,” Chiarelli said. “‘¦ What I see and observe is we’ve had had discussions on the goaltender situation. I think in the end you’ll see it go into line with what he originally put out there.”
The upcoming home-and-home with the Canadiens should be interesting when it comes to splitting up goaltending duties, should they go in that direction. If Rask starts Thursday and Thomas starts Saturday, Thomas will have gone a week without playing. Rask has gone a week since his last start as it is, and his last game in Montreal wasn’t pretty for anyone, perhaps with the exception of Lars Eller.
Rask started 27 games last season, posting an 11-14-2 record, 2.67 goals against average, and .918 save percentage. Thomas started the rest of the games, going 35-11-9 in his second Vezina-winning season. He had a 2.00 GAA set the NHL single-season record with a .938 save percentage.
|Bruins-Hurricanes Live Blog: Rich Peverley gets Bruins on the board||10.18.11 at 6:30 pm ET|
Tuukka Rask was the first goaltender off the ice at Tuesday’s morning skate, an indication that he will be in net when the B’s face the Hurricanes at the Garden. Rask lost his lone start of the season, allowing one goal in the B’s 1-0 loss to the Avalanche last Monday.
David Krejci (core) took part in the morning skate, marking the first time he’s been on the ice with teammates since leaving last Tuesday’s practice.
|Milan Lucic agrees with Claude Julien: B’s took the game ‘way too lightly’||10.10.11 at 4:57 pm ET|
It was pretty apparent, even before Claude Julien called out his team before reporters in a post-game press conference, that the Bruins were fairly disgusted with their performance in a 1-0 loss to the Avalanche that wasted a brilliant performance by Tuukka Rask.
The Bruins managed 30 shots on Semyon Varlamov, but not enough sustained pressure. When they got great chances, including Lucic with just under six minutes to go in the game, they couldn’t finish.
“Well, they played well, you have to give them credit,” Lucic said. “But on our part, we took today’s game way too lightly. We lost most of the battles, they were first on pucks. Regardless of if we were the champs last year or not, the major areas on the ice, they wanted the puck more than us. And that’s why we weren’t able to generate enough to get that goal.
“We created some pretty good chances, just have to find a way to bear down on them.”
In their losses to the Flyers and Avalanche, the Bruins could not do two basic things essential to winning hockey and their Cup run of last spring: Control the puck and win physical battles.
“Yeah, it seemed like we were chasing a lot and they were just chipping past us and going,” Lucic said. “And we were a step late, a second late here a step late, a second late over there. And that’s basically what happens. I talked about being first to the puck and winning battles and we didn’t have enough of that. Good for four periods and need to work on the rest.”
|Bruins expect Tuukka Rask to play full game Wednesday||09.21.11 at 1:09 pm ET|
“He should play the whole 60 minutes barring how he feels and everything else,” Julien said. “We kind of told him we’d gauge it as he goes along, but if he feels good, I’ll probably leave him in there for the whole 60.”
Rask made 15 saves on 16 shots in a little more than a period and a half of Tuesday’s black and white scrimmage.
|This year, Tim Thomas coming off history rather than surgery||09.13.11 at 2:44 am ET|
Around this time last year, it didn’t seem there many people banking on big things from Tim Thomas. The veteran goaltender was coming off both a down year and offseason hip surgery. In fact, much of the discussion regarding the Bruins’ goaltending situation was generally around how Tuukka Rask would follow up a season in which he led the NHL in both goals against average and save percentage.
What a difference a year and a shelf-worth of hardware makes.
Now, Thomas is coming off a both healthy and historic season, and rather than wondering whether he’s physically capable of being a dominant goalie — something he admitted he pondered before the hip healed — the 37 year-old can think about the coming season rather than how his body will hold up.
“Actually, I feel good,” Thomas said Monday. “I didn’t have any injuries that I had to deal with, which is pretty amazing considering the amount of games we had. Physically, it’s not even an issue, so I haven’t had to think about it. It’s nice.”
Thomas delighted season-ticket holders at Monday’s State of the Bruins when he said that he had no choice but to repeat the type of season — which was of record-breaking variety thanks to an all-time best .938 save percentage — he had a year ago.
While fans got a kick out of Thomas’ statement, the Michigan native said afterwards that holding themselves to their own standard is something the Bruins must do as they defend their championship.
“I think that goes for not just me but for the whole team,” Thomas said. “When you’ve won the Cup and you’re at the pinnacle, there’s nothing higher, so you need to shoot for it again.”
But could Thomas really repeat the type of season he put together last season? He started 55 regular-season games, beginning the process of claiming the No. 1 job with a shutout (one of nine on the season) in the second game against the Coyotes in Prague.
This time around, it’s Rask that’s all healed (he had arthroscopic surgery on his knee) and trying to get a few more starts. Thomas laughed at the idea that the No. 1 goalie discussion could come up this early, as he was asked whether his historic season left him assuming he’ll be the Bruins’ top netminder.
“It’s pretty much only a label that you guys put on it, anyways,” Thomas said. “We just consider ourselves goaltenders on the team. One of the goalies is going to get more playing time, but we’re both just teammates.”
Along with his .938 save percentage, Thomas had an NHL-best 2.00 goals against average and a 35-11-9 record in the regular season. He started each game of the postseason, narrowly surprising his regular season numbers with a .940 save percentage and 1.98 goals against average. For someone who’s welcomed the challenge of repeating such a campaign, Thomas did note that his lackluster 2009-10 season, which followed his first Vezina season, may have prepared him for learning how to follow a great year.
“I’ve had experience,” Thomas said. “I had the year after the Vezina. Coming off that was hard enough. Now, winning these, I’m starting to get some experience with dealing with success, and hopefully that helps going forward.”
|Which Tuukka Rask will the Bruins see this season?||08.25.11 at 4:52 am ET|
With captains’ practices just two short weeks from commencing, WEEI.com will be looking at the questions facing the defending Stanley Cup champions in the 2011-12 season.
Up next is the question of what goaltender Tuukka Rask‘s season will hold. The case of Rask is an interesting one, as he was the best statistical goalie in the league in 2009-10 before watching Tim Thomas wrest the starting job away last year. There are other factors at work as well, including the offseason knee surgery he’s coming off of and the fact that he’ll be a restricted free agent at season’s end.
Speaking prior to Milan Lucic‘s Rock and Jock softball game Wednesday in Lowell, Rask discussed the arthroscopic procedure he had on his left knee. The surgery required between four and five weeks recovery time, but Rask is now feeling healthy after suffering the injury midway through last season.
Could the knee be the reason as to why Rask went from having a league-best 1.97 goals against average and .931 save percentage in 2009-10 to posting a mediocre 2.67 GAA and .918 save percentage last season? He isn’t ready to say so, as he denied feeling significant discomfort in the knee.
‘It actually happened in January, I tweaked it, but it didn’t stop me from playing or practicing,’ Rask said. ‘It was just something that we saw that was better to fix, because it would have bugged [me] in the future at some point, so it was just a minor fix-up, but the recovery was a few weeks.’
Now, whether it’s through health or increased playing time, Rask has to be hoping to post better numbers this season. There is certainly something to be said for a goaltender getting in a rhythm, and Thomas’ dominance made it nearly impossible for the Bruins to give Rask the amount of time a netminder of his caliber deserves.
If it is more time between the pipes that will lead to more 2009-10-like numbers, Rask could be in luck. Yes, Thomas is unquestionably the best goaltender in the league right now, but he is also the oldest player to win the Vezina since the adaptation of its current criteria. Rask played in only 29 games last year, good for approximately 35 percent of the regular season schedule. Assuming neither player gets injured, the Bruins could go with a closer split to give each guy a chance to take control of the job a la Thomas last season. Additionally, if the two split time a little more evenly than last season, neither goaltender would run as big a risk of getting cold.
Then there’s the matter of the guys playing in front of him. The Bruins often struggled to give him whatever the hockey equivalent of run support is (he had an 11-14-2 record), and players often lamented the way they played in front of Rask following losses. If both Rask and his teammates can pick it up in games he starts this season, he could be a richer man come next summer. The guess here is that he gets upwards of 35 starts and posts a GAA somewhere in the 2.20 range.
One thing that is safe to say about Rask is that he won’t be a poor sport if he ends up spending more time on the bench. He was among the most chipper Bruins during their Cup run, wearing Nathan Horton‘s helmet for fun and commonly being in the middle of Bruins’ on-ice celebrations after series wins. He said Wednesday that it’s the up-and-down nature of the last two seasons that have taught him to be a team guy no matter what.
‘I mean, anything can happen, right?’ Rask said of what he’s learned. ‘And you’ve just got to go day-by-day and no matter what, be a great teammate, because even if you’re playing or you’re not playing, you’ve still got to support the guys and be a part of the group, so that was the really big thing I learned the past two years.’
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