|Claude Julien: Tuukka Rask ‘just as good’ as Tim Thomas in 2011 Cup run||06.16.13 at 3:18 pm ET|
The comparison has been obvious since the second round of this Bruins playoff run.
Is Tuukka Rask as good as Tim Thomas in 2011 when the Bruins won the Stanley Cup on the strength of one of the best goaltending performances in Stanley Cup history?
In the eyes of Bruins coach Claude Julien, there’s no doubt.
“I think it’s just as good, no doubt,” Julien said of Rask, who is now 13-5 in the playoffs, a 1.73 goals against and a .944 save percentage. All of those numbers better the performance of Thomas when he won the Conn Smythe as playoff MVP. “Tim has been a great goaltender for us. When you lose a guy like that, there’s always that fear that you’re not going to be able to replace him.
“Tuukka’s done an outstanding job. To me, he’s been as much of a contributor to our team as Tim was two years ago.”
Rask gave his take on Sunday morning.
“For myself, that was the best I’ve ever seen, obviously,” Rask said of Thomas’ 16-9 record, with a 1.98 GAA and a .940 save percentage in the 2011 playoffs. “I’d never been that deep in the playoffs before and for me, as a spectator, that was the best stretch of goaltending I’d ever seen.”
The only area where Thomas has Rask beat right now is in shutouts (4-2), that and a Conn Smythe trophy, for now.
Rask did admit one thing Sunday – this is the best goaltending he’s played in his career.
“Probably, yeah,” Rask said.
|Tuukka Rask, Zdeno Chara finish fifth in respective awards||06.15.13 at 7:54 pm ET|
CHICAGO — Everyone knew Tuukka Rask and Zdeno Chara weren’t going to win their positions’ awards this season when neither of them were announced as finalists after the regular season, but it was interesting to see where they finished.
Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban was the winner of the Norris Trophy for the league’s top defenseman, getting 66 first-place votes (one more than runner-up Ryan Suter) from the Pro Hockey Writers Association and finishing with 1266 points to Suter’s 1230. Kris Letang (914) and Francois Beauchemin (290) also finished ahead of Chara, who was fifth with 289 points. Chara, who won the Norris in 2009, received 10 first-place votes. Also represented in Norris voting was Dennis Seidenberg, who was 21st in voting with four points (one fourth-place vote and a fifth-place vote).
Rask, meanwhile, was a rather surprising fifth-place finisher for the Vezina Trophy, which is voted on by general managers and given to the league’s top goalie. Rask received no first-place votes, getting three second place votes and three third-place votes. Blue Jackets’ net minder Sergei Bobrovsky won the Vezina with 110 points. Hernik Lundqvist, Antti Niemi and Craig Anderson also finished ahead for Rask.
Alexander Ovechkin took home the Hart Trophy for the most valuable player. Patrice Bergeron was the only Bruin to receive a vote, as he got a fourth-place vote and finished 17th in voting. Bergeron was named the winner of the King Clancy Trophy as the player who “best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and who has made a significant humanitarian contribution to his community.”
|Pierre McGuire on M&M: Bruins ‘played with the heart of a champion’||06.13.13 at 8:08 pm ET|
NBC hockey analyst Pierre McGuire joined Mut & Merloni on Thursday afternoon to discuss Wednesday’s Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals and the ramifications of the Bruins’ marathon loss going forward.
Sure, the 4-3, triple-overtime loss was disappointing, McGuire said, but the Bruins don’t have much reason to be down on themselves going into Saturday’s Game 2.
“Boston played with the heart of a champion, and I don’t expect it to be anything different [the rest of the series]. It could be a long, hard series,” McGuire said. “I saw so many positive things from the Bruins. I saw a lot of positive things from the Blackhawks. These are the two best teams. There’s no Cinderella here. Both of these teams deserve to be in the Stanley Cup final.”
What will be interesting is when the series shifts back to Boston for Game 3 Monday and the Bruins get the last line change before the game time. McGuire suspects Claude Julien will match up Patrice Bergeron’s line with that of Jonathan Toews, and David Krejci’s unit with Michal Handzus.
Speaking of Bergeron’s line, McGuire also said Tyler Seguin is a likely candidate to play with Krejci and Milan Lucic should Nathan Horton be unable to play. Horton left Game 1 during the first overtime and did not return.
McGuire also expects Seguin, who has five points (one goal, four assists) and is a minus-2 in 17 playoff games, to break out soon.
“He wants the puck. He wants to make a difference. His speed is very apparent, especially at ice level,” McGuire said. “For those that weren’t at the morning skate [Wednesday], everything he shot went in. It was unbelievable watching him in practice. He was letter perfect with his passing and shooting. His skating is great. I just get the feeling he’s about the break out, I really do.”
McGuire gave much credit to goalies Tuukka Rask and Corey Crawford, even calling Crawford “superhuman” in the first overtime,” and said while Torey Krug’s crucial, third-period turnover was quite unfortunate, the defenseman can bounce back, just as the Bruins can.
“It’s a tough situation for a young player, an undrafted player, to go into the Stanley Cup finals,” McGuire said. “It was an egregious turnover. Obviously it ends up in the back of the net. Nobody wants to see that.
“But I thought he got better as the game went along. I know they weren’t afraid to use him in overtime, and he had some good chances. They used him on the power play, too, with [Dennis] Seidenberg. He’s a young player. He’s going to grow. I think he’ll be better off with the experience. Was it his best game? No. Was it a terrible game? No. He just made one bad mistake.”
NESN Bruins analyst Barry Pederson joined Dennis & Callahan on Thursday morning, and following the Bruins’ 4-3 triple-overtime loss to the Blackhawks in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals, Pederson pegged defenseman Torey Krug’s third-period turnover that led to Chicago’s second goal as a turning point.
Krug’s cross-ice pass got intercepted by Andrew Shaw, who assisted Dave Bolland’s goal to cut the Bruins’ lead to 3-2 midway through the third period.
“The Bruins had complete control of this hockey game early in the third with that 3-1 lead. People I think are talking about the deflection, the bad break they got. But to me the turning point of the hockey game was the giveaway by Krug in his own end,” Pederson said. “That’s one of those plays that’s a rookie mistake under pressure. You have the near-side wall is wide open. You either have to carry it up or make that play. As we’re taught as youngsters throughout your hockey career, there’s one play you don’t make in your own end, and that’s cross ice. That to me was the one that really changed things.”
It was that turnover — and the ensuing “emotional letdown” — that did in the Bruins more than potential complacency up by two goals with about half a period to go, Pederson noted.
Despite the error, Pederson said he doesn’t think Claude Julien will bench Krug for Game 2 Saturday, nor does he think the rookie defenseman should be benched. Pederson noted that Krug’s ice time was lessened for much of the rest of the game, but he doesn’t expect that to carry over.
“I would hope not,” Pederson said, “because they really need him. He brings that element of speed and offense to the lineup, and I think he helps their power play as well.”
When the hosts expressed concern that the Bruins, particularly the older players, might be lagging come Saturday, Pederson said not to worry — the Blackhawks are in the same position, after all.
The bigger concern should be replacing Nathan Horton, if needed, after the forward left with an upper-body injury in the first overtime. Pederson suggested moving Tyler Seguin up to replace Horton on the first line, as Julien played it the rest of Game 1.
|Tuukka Rask: Torey Krug turnover ‘terrible’||at 1:44 am ET|
CHICAGO — Tuukka Rask was the victim of some bad luck Wednesday night, as the Bruins’ two-goal lead in the third period was erased by a Torey Krug turnover and a puck that bounced off Andrew Ference‘s skate. After the Blackhawks won in triple overtime, it was the Krug turnover that left him most frustrated.
With the Bruins holding a two-goal lead with just over 12 minutes left in regulation, Krug sent a long pass from the Bruins zone in the direction of Kaspars Daugavins in the neutral zone, but it was intercepted by Andrew Shaw. The Blackhawks winger sent it across to Bolland, who beat Rask. A little more than four minutes later, a Johnny Oduya shot from the point went off Ference’s skate in front and past Rask.
“We had the game,” Rask said. “We were up 3-1 in the third and then a terrible turnover leads to a second goal, and a tough bounce leads to a tying goal and we just gave it away. We’ve got to be better than that.”
Krug did not play for the rest of regulation after his turnover, though he eventually got shifts in the first overtime and worked his way back into more of a rotation as the game progressed. He was on the ice for Shaw’s game-winner and finished the game with a minus-2 rating.
Rask faced 63 shots in the game (the most he’s seen in his career) and made 59 saves. Asked about the team’s first experience playing Chicago this season, Rask said, “We definitely didn’t play our best game. We turned the puck over too many times and didn’t manage the puck good enough.”
For more on the Bruins, visit weei.com/bruins.
Andrew Shaw scored off a double deflection at 12:08 of triple overtime to give the Blackhawks a 4-3 win over the Bruins in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals Wednesday night at the United Center in Chicago. It was the longest overtime game in Stanley Cup finals play since Petr Klima beat the Bruins in triple overtime in Game 1 of the 1990 finals at Boston Garden.
With 52 minutes, eight seconds of overtime play, it was the fifth-longest finals game in history and the longest since Detroit beat Carolina on June 8, 2002, a game that took 54 minutes, 47 seconds. The longest game in finals history came on May 15, 1990, at Boston Garden when Petr Klima scored at 55:13 of overtime.
Tuukka Rask made 59 saves while Corey Crawford stopped 51 shots for the Blackhawks.
Milan Lucic scored Boston’s first two goals of the Stanley Cup finals, staking Boston to a 2-0 lead midway through the second period. Lucic scored on a pretty assist from Nathan Horton just over 13 minutes into the game.
Lucic scored on a shot from between the circles just 51 second into the second period.
• The game was the longest of this postseason at 52:08 of overtime and stands as the fifth-longest game in Stanley Cup final history.
• The Bruins played their 123rd lifetime playoff overtime game, and they now have a 53-67-3 record in playoff overtime. They are 4-2 in overtime in this postseason. It was their 64th on the road and that record now stands at 23-40-2.
• It was Boston’s 21st multiple-overtime playoff game in their history and second of this postseason. It was the sixth game in their history to go into three or more overtimes and they now have a 3-2 mark in triple-overtime games and an 0-1 record in a six-overtime game. It was the fourth-longest game in Bruins history.
• The Blackhawks played their 84th lifetime playoff overtime game, and they now have a 45-39 record in playoff overtime. They are 4-1 in overtime in this postseason. It was their 43rd on home ice, and that record now stands at 27-16.
• It was Chicago’s 20th multiple-overtime playoff game in their history and second of this postseason. It was the seventh game in their history to go into three or more overtimes and they now have a 4-3 mark in triple-overtime games. It was the third-longest game in Blackhawks history.
|Doc Emrick on M&M: Tuukka Rask gives Bruins ‘check mark’ over Blackhawks||06.12.13 at 12:34 pm ET|
NBC Sports play-by-play caller Mike “Doc” Emrick joined Mut & Merloni on Wednesday morning to break down the Stanley Cup finals between the Bruins and Blackhawks.
Emrick said he expects the series to be almost dead even, and he did not offer a prediction for who would raise the Stanley Cup in the end. However, he drew a comparison between this series and the 1995 finals between the Devils and Red Wings.
“The edge is very difficult to call,” Emrick said. “I know there have been various surveys done and I think one very extensive one in Canada came out 50 percent to 49.2 percent, and at that point I didn’t even ask who had the 50 percent because it becomes — it is pretty much the way that everyone here is thinking. It is just too tough to call.
“I remember a similar thing that happened when we had a 48-game season in 1995 and we went into the final with a favorite team and a non-favorite one because the New Jersey Devils were not a good scoring team. They had a good goaltender and they played good defense. And the Red Wings were lights out. I mean, they were the biggest offensive juggernaut going and they banged their way through Chicago to get to the final and then New Jersey shut them down in four straight games with a defensive scheme.”
Emrick continued that comparison between the current series and the 1995 finals while discussing Zdeno Chara’s impact on Tuukka Rask’s play. Emrick compared Chara’s dominance to that of hall-of-fame defenseman Scott Stevens.
“I think if you were to ask that question to Marty Brodeur, he would say that Scott Stevens’ years were some of his best, because when you have somebody out there that is a presence that takes care of business as well as Scott did and as well as Zdeno Chara does and covers even more distance than Scott would ever hope to just because of his raw size.” Emrick said. “I think you’re making a very good comparison there and I think you’re also giving appropriate credit to the defense in front of [Rask].”
While he praised Chara for his defense, Emrick was sure to give credit to Rask, saying that he gave the Bruins an advantage between the pipes over Corey Crawford.
“If you want to put a check mark in one particular category that I think solidly goes to Boston, it is goaltending,” Emrick said. “And again, we have the leading goals-against average is one guy and the other is second. And the leading save percentage is the other guy and the one guy is second. So you can waffle back and forth. It seems to me the way that Rask has been playing, that is a check mark to the Bruins.
“As [NBC Sports color commentator] Eddie Olczyk always says, ‘Without goaltending you have got no shot.’ And they’ve sure got goaltending.”