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Tuukka Rask expected to start vs. Canadiens as Bruins look to extend winning streak 03.24.14 at 11:58 am ET
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Tuukka Rask was the first goalie off the ice in Monday’s morning skate as the Bruins prepared to face the Canadiens at TD Garden. Rask is coming off a 30-save performance in a 4-2 win over the Coyotes Saturday in Phoenix.

In Rask’s last start against the Canadiens, he made 35 saves in a 4-1 victory in Montreal. Rask is 1-2-0 against the Habs this season. Monday will mark Boston’s final meeting with the Habs this regular season.

Peter Budaj will be in net for the Canadiens. Budaj has performed well against the B’s in his career, though he was between the pipes when Boston beat the Habs earlier this month.

If the Bruins are to pick up a victory Monday, they will have extended their winning streak to 13 games. Their longest win streak in franchise history lasted 14 games in the 1929-30 season.

Bruins coach Claude Julien downplayed the significance of the team’s streak, saying that the Bruins are more focused on playing solid hockey leading up to the postseason than doing anything historic in the regular season.

“Those are things that next year, nobody will remember,” Julien said. “We [try to] take care of other things than the streak. Right now it’s about our game. It’s about day-to-day. Right now it’s not an issue.”

For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Tuukka Rask hopes to bring Olympic success to Bruins down the stretch 02.27.14 at 1:41 pm ET
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Sochi Olympics Ice Hockey Men

Tuukka Rask won the bronze medal with Team Finland. (AP)

WILMINGTON — Tuukka Rask is back with the Bruins, healthy, rested and the new owner of an Olympic bronze medal.

Rask played in four games for Finland in the Olympics, missing the team’s semifinal loss to Sweden with the flu but returning to blank Team USA in a 5-0, bronze-winning contest for Finland.

“I mean, it’s a great tournament,” Rask said of the Olympics. “It’s a tough tournament. You’re playing against the best players in the world. It’s not the same situation as in the NHL, but it’s still a battle. It was great. A great thing for Finns to get that medal. Nobody expected us to win it, and now, for [the Bruins], we got three medals, so I think everybody should be feeling pretty good about ourselves going into the month of March. Hopefully we can share some of that confidence we have from the Olympics to the other guys.”

Rask shot down a seemingly baseless rumor floating around that he had missed the semifinal game because he had gone out the night before. The Olympic village was generally dry, and Finland’s housing had no alcohol. He joked that Bruins teammate and Sweden star Loui Eriksson had put something in his food.

What actually happened was that Rask was sick during the Olympics and had played through the flu in the team’s quarterfinal win over Russia, but when he woke up the day of the semifinal game (the game was played at 4:30 p.m. in Russia, by the way), he felt that Finland stood a better chance playing a healthy Kari Lehtonen or Antti Niemi. Lehtonen played and the team lost.

“What can you do? I could have played, but if you’re 40 percent of your capacity, it doesn’t really make any sense to go out there if you have two No. 1 goalies,” Rask said. “So that kind of made my decision easier to stay off. I knew that it was not going to matter who’s in net, we were going to have a chance to win. It happens and no hard feelings.”

This was Rask’s first Olympic experience, but with owners against the idea of sending NHL players to future Olympics, it could be his last. Rask said he hopes that isn’t the case, but sees why owners may be concerned.

“I mean, it’€™s kind of a two-edged sword, I guess, because you see these injuries and it’€™s tough because the teams, they just give their players up and if something happens, you get nothing in return,” he said. “But for us being there, it’€™s fun, it’€™s a great experience and it’€™s fun to play with.

“So I can see the both worlds, GMs and owners, kind of mad about losing the players. But then again, it’€™s a fun experience for the players, so I’€™m sure they’€™re going to figure it out by the next one.’€

Rask returns to the Bruins just as their schedule picks up. The team’s schedule calls for six sets of back-to-back games, and it’s the team’s intention to not overwork Rask. As such, Chad Johnson, who has started half of the team’s last 12 games, will get more ice time.

As for Rask, he said he doesn’t want to tell the coaches every time he feels tired, and that considering he only played four Olympic games and got a lot of sleep (he said he slept the entire plane ride back to North America), he doesn’t feel burned out now.

“You always have to look sharp no matter what, especially for the goalies,” Rask said. “But honestly, I feel good now. I don’€™t feel tired. Ask me again after March, I might have a little different story.’€

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Bruins in the Olympics: Loui Eriksson, Sweden defeat David Krejci, Czech Republic; Tuukka Rask expected to start for Finland 02.12.14 at 3:56 pm ET
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Loui Eriksson

Loui Eriksson

Wednesday marked the start of men’s hockey in the Sochi Olympics, and Loui Eriksson kicked things off by celebrating a win over Bruins teammate David Krejci as Sweden jumped out to a 4-0 lead and held on to beat the Czech Republic, 4-2, Wednesday in the preliminary round.

Eriksson didn’t have a point and finished with a minus-1 rating, though he provided a screen on a second period goal by Erik Karlsson. The Senators blueliner had a pair of goals for Sweden.

Krejci went without a point or a shot on goal with an even rating, though former Bruin Jaromir Jagr had a goal for the Czech Republic.

In the other men’s game Wednesday, Switzerland topped Latvia, 1-0, thanks to a goal from Simon Moser with 7.9 seconds remaining in regulation. Former Bruins forward Kaspars Daugavins tied for the Latvia team lead with four shots on goal.

Thursday will be a bit more action-packed for local fans, as Tuukka Rask will be between the pipes for Finland vs. Austria, according to the Bruins. Team USA will take on Zdeno Chara and Slovakia, while Claude Julien and Patrice Bergeron‘s Canada squad will face Norway.

For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Bruins beat Canucks for first time since 2011 Stanley Cup finals 02.04.14 at 9:39 pm ET
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Bruins forward Daniel Paille heads in for a second-period goal during Tuesday's 3-1 victory over the Canucks. (AP)

Bruins forward Daniel Paille heads in for a second-period goal during Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over the Canucks. (AP)

Though it didn’t mean as much as their last win over the Canucks, the Bruins beat Vancouver on Tuesday at TD Garden for the first time since the 2011 Stanley Cup finals. The Bruins picked up a 3-1 victory, good for their sixth win in their last seven games.

Vancouver native Milan Lucic made it 1-0 at 5:12 of the first period, with David Krejci passing it back to him while on a 2-on-2 with Jarome Iginla. Lucic finished off the play by beating Roberto Luongo stick side from the slot. Iginla added to the lead with a power-play goal off a feed from Zdeno Chara in the second.

Newly acquired Canucks defenseman Raphael Diaz beat Tuukka Rask with a slap shot on a waffling puck in the second at 11:28 of the second, but a Daniel Paille breakaway goal off a stretch pass from Johnny Boychuk increased the Bruins’ lead back to two.

The game was the third played between the B’s and Canucks since the 2011 Cup finals, with Luongo making his first start at TD Garden since Game 6 of the series. He was out dueled Tuesday by Rask, who made 27 saves.

Tuesday marked Chara’s last game with the team before he leaves for Sochi to be Slovakia’s flag-bearer in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics Friday. The B’s have two games left before the break, as they’ll play in St. Louis on Thursday and host the Senators Saturday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Boychuk was a beast, starting the play that gave Paille his goal and providing a bruising presence. Boychuk found Paille coming onto the ice with the B’s stuck in their zone and sent a pass from the hashmarks of Boston’s zone to Paille at the Canucks blue line. Paille took it from there, beating Luongo low with a stick-side backhander.

That wasn’t all Boychuk did, as he used his body well on Canucks forwards, most notably crushing David Booth multiple times, including a massive hit along the wall in the Vancouver zone late in the second period.

The Bruins will need a couple more performances like that from Boychuk before the Olympic break, as the 30-year-old will be the elder statesman of Boston’s blue line for the next two games without Chara.

– Speaking of Chara, it was good for B’s to get two points in his last game with them before the break. The next two won’t be easy, as the B’s, who are already without Dennis Seidenberg, will be down their best two defensemen. David Warsofsky will play the next two games after being recalled Monday and sitting Tuesday.

– Though his line didn’t have the prettiest night, Paille continued to contribute. The tripping penalty he drew in the first period was the fourth penalty he’s drawn in the last four games, while he continues to use his speed (or, as was the case Tuesday, a fortunate line change) to create chances. Paille has eight goals through 48 games this season after registering 10 in 46 contests last season.

– Iginla has points in five of his last six games, registering three goals and eight assists for 11 points over that span. His assist on Lucic’s goal was the 600th helper of his career.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

Brad Marchand missed out on a couple of goals in the second period. What appeared to be the Bruins’ third goal was waved off after it was determined Torey Krug obstructed Luongo. Krug was in front of the net and fell into Luongo as Reilly Smith took the puck behind the net and fed Marchand, with Marchand having half the net open with Luongo down. Luongo immediately argued that the goal should be disallowed, which it was.

Later in the period, Marchand hit the post on a backhand bid in front.

– Statistically speaking, Patrice Bergeron‘s line has cooled off since its torrid stretch in mid-to-late January. The trio of Bergeron, Marchand and Smith now has gone four games without producing a goal.

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Tuukka Rask on Claude Julien ExplanationGate: ‘He’s the boss’ 01.31.14 at 1:26 pm ET
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WILMINGTON — Claude Julien was all hot and bothered Thursday night when pressed for a reason as to why he pulled Tuukka Rask in the second period of the team’s 4-1 loss to the Canadiens. Julien said he didn’t have to explain himself and that some of the moves he makes are for the team to understand and not anyone else.

Rask obviously wasn’t happy with being pulled after the game, but he agreed Friday that Julien doesn’t need to explain his decisions to anyone — even him.

“No,” Rask said. “He’s the boss and he makes decisions based on what he sees on the ice. He doesn’t have to tell anybody anything. I battle out there as long as I need to. [Yesterday] didn’t last too long, and it’s too bad.”

As for whether he would like his coach to discuss his play and why he’d been pulled, Rask replied, “Doesn’t matter to me.”

Rask, who still leads the NHL with five shutouts and is fifth in the league with a .928 save percentage, has been pulled four times since Dec. 14. Thursday’s was the most controversial given that only one of the goals he allowed was particularly bad and Julien’s postgame comments.

‘€œDon’€™t think I have to explain myself [for] why I pull a goalie, OK? Because this isn’€™t going to be one of those things where we make a big story out of a pulled goalie,” Julien said. “Our team was poor tonight, ‘€˜K? So maybe sometimes you pull a goalie for different reasons, and I don’€™t think I have to explain everything to you guys for the reasons, because there’€™s a lot of decisions that I make that are for inside that dressing room, not necessarily for everyone to share.’€

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Claude Julien in no mood to explain why he pulled Tuukka Rask 01.30.14 at 10:57 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask didn’t seem happy about being pulled Thursday, and Claude Julien was in no mood to explain why.

After Brian Gionta scored on the power play to make it 3-1 in the second period of Montreal’s win Thursday, Julien pulled Rask for the fourth time since Dec. 14. Rask was visibly upset as he left the ice, and after the game said that he felt “OK” in the game.

“I play as long as they tell me to play,” Rask said, “so I try to battle out there are hard as I can, I stay out there as long as I possibly can and today it lasted a little over one period. It’s too bad.”

The Habs’ second goal came on a breakaway off a turnover from Daniel Paille, while the first goal was a shot from the point that went through a lot of traffic. Though Gionta’s goal in which he tipped in a Tomas Plekanec shot was a bad goal to give up, it was still somewhat surprising to see Rask yanked given the circumstances of the goals he allowed.

“It’s a lot of everything,” Julien said after the game when asked why he pulled Rask. “That’s decisions that I make and I don’t feel I have to explain [them] every time.”

Later in Julien’s press conference, he was asked what “a lot of everything” includes.

“[It] includes what I want it to,” Julien said. “Don’t think I have to explain myself [for] why I pull a goalie, OK? Because this isn’t going to be one of those things where we make a big story out of a pulled goalie. Our team was poor tonight, ‘K? So maybe sometimes you pull a goalie for different reasons, and I don’t think I have to explain everything to you guys for the reasons, because there’s a lot of decisions that I make that are for inside that dressing room, not necessarily for everyone to share.”

The loss Thursday night dropped Rask to 2-10-2 in his career against the Canadiens. For a guy who has dominated most other teams, those numbers are alarming. It may be a little early in his career to bring up the Pedro Martinez-Yankees comparison, but the Canadiens have been Rask’s kryptonite.

“I don’t know,” Rask said of why he’s put up poor numbers against Montreal. “I mean, I haven’t played too many bad games against them; I just can’t get the wins. I mean, it sucks, but what can you do? Just hopefully by the end of my career, they’re better.”

For more Bruins coverage, visit weei.com/bruins.

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Canadiens chase Tuukka Rask, beat Bruins at 9:39 pm ET
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The Canadiens interrupted the Bruins’ recent hot streak Thursday, taking a 4-1 contest at TD Garden and improving to 2-0-0 against the B’s this season.

Tuukka Rask was pulled for the fourth time this season and dropped to 2-10-2 in his career against the Canadiens. He allowed three goals on 18 shots before being pulled a little over halfway through the second period. Chad Johnson allowed one goal in relief.

The Habs got on the board 2:16 into the game when an Alexei Emelin shot from the point went through plenty of traffic but didn’t appear to hit anything on its way past Rask. Max Pacioretty made it 2-0 later in the period when he took a feed from Brendan Gallagher off a Daniel Paille turnover, flew down the wing and held off Johnny Boychuk on his way to beating Rask five-hole.

Dougie Hamilton got the B’s on the board at 15:38 of the first when a shot from the point hit a Montreal body and got past Peter Budaj, but it would be Boston’s only goal of the night. A Brian Gionta power-play goal at 11:54 of the second chased Rask, and a Daniel Briere breakaway goal on Johnson made it a three-goal lead for the Habs.

The loss snapped the Bruins’ four-game winning streak. The B’s have four games left before the Olympic break and will host Andrew Ference and the Oilers on Saturday.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– Rask has now been pulled four times this season, all of which have come in the last month and a half. Rask was pulled Dec. 14 against the Canucks, Dec. 28 in Ottawa and Jan. 9 in Los Angeles. Though Gionta’s goal was the only particularly bad one he allowed, getting yanked at least four times in a season isn’t a great thing to have on a Vezina resume.

– The Bruins had scored six goals in three straight games (3-0-0) prior to Thursday’s game, but they were able to muster exactly one sixth of that mark Thursday. Read the rest of this entry »

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