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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 »

Read More: Chad Johnson, Dougie Hamilton, Peter Budaj, Tuukka Rask
Bruins set to host Canadiens at 12:01 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask will be in net Thursday night against the Canadiens, as he was the first goaltender off the ice in Thursday’s morning skate. He will face Peter Budaj, who gets the start for the Habs. Montreal last played Tuesday, with Carey Price making his eighth consecutive start.

It will be just the second meeting between the teams this season, with the Habs taking a 2-1 win Dec. 5 in Montreal.

The Bruins have been hot of late, going 6-1-1 over their last eight contests and scoring six goals in three straight (3-0-0), while the Canadiens are slumping. Montreal’s win Tuesday over the Hurricanes stopped a four-game skid, and the Habs currently stand fourth in the Atlantic Division and fifth in the Eastern Conference. By comparison, the Habs, who have played 53 games to Boston’s 52, are 10 points behind the B’s (Boston has 71 points to Montreal’s 61).

Adam McQuaid did not take part in the morning skate as he remains out with a leg injury. Chris Kelly took line rushes with the fourth line, which is where he played for the first two periods of Tuesday’s win over the Panthers.

The anticipated lineup is as follows:

Lucic – Krejci – Iginla
Marchand – Bergeron – Smith
Paille – Soderberg – Eriksson
Campbell – Kelly – Thornton

Chara – Hamilton
Bartkowski – Boychuk
Krug – Miller

Rask

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Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘should have put two points in their pockets’ vs. Maple Leafs 01.15.14 at 1:54 pm ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, following the Bruins’€™ 4-3 loss to the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“€œI’€™m a little disappointed that the Bruins didn’t get the two points that they should have gotten last night,”€ Brickley said. “€œIt’€™s the only game at home that separates five games on the road against some tough teams. A game that should have put two points in their pockets.”

The penalty kill — or lack thereof — was blamed as a big reason for the loss.

“€œYou can’€™t just single out one aspect of your penalty killing that’€™s letting the Bruins down right now,” Brickley said. “€œI think it all starts with decision making, when you’€™re not making the right decision there’€™s a drag in your decision making, in other words you’€™re making it too late, a stride, a stride and a half too late.

“You’€™re playing against the top players on the other team, guys that make up the power plays, and your decision making is not there or there’€™s a drag, you’€™re going to give up quality scoring chances, and if you don’€™t get the saves you’€™re going to give up goals, and that’€™s where they’€™re at right now. This is not ebb and flow, this is a bad bad stretch of allowing far too many goals. You can win with a power play in the lower third of the National Hockey League, but you can’€™t win consistently when you’€™re only killing from the same place.”

One factor that appears to be hurting the penalty kill is the absence of Dennis Seidenberg, who tore his ACL and MCL on Dec. 27.

“€œThe loss of Seidenberg definitely affects your penalty killing, but a little more importantly it affects the makeup of your entire team,”€ Brickley said. “€œThat is the single most important issue that the Bruins are going to have to address right now. If you talk about, ‘How do the Bruins win more consistently?’ you say, well, you need more production from the [David] Krejci line. They carried the offense for the first 2 1/2, three months, but they’ve been quiet lately. They had unbelievable opportunities last night, didn’t finish. It was only the Bergeron line that was scoring goals, basically.

“They need to settle or figure out how they’€™re going to answer the loss of Seidenberg. When [Johnny] Boychuk is your number three, [Dougie] Hamilton, [Torey] Krug, [Adam] McQuaid make up your four, five six, [Matt] Bartkowski, [Kevan] Miller are your depth guys, now you’ve got a real good group. But you’ve lost a guy who’€™s playing 24-25 minutes who is an absolute horse back there, he’€™s physical, smart, experience, versatile, strong, well conditioned, understands his role, relishes his role. When you lose a guy like that, in the system that the Bruins play, as good as the other guys are, your team takes a big hit unless you can bring in a guy that’€™s not exactly like a Seidenberg, but someone that allows you to do some of the things he can do.”

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Read More: Boston Bruins, Dennis Seidenberg, Tuukka Rask, Tyler Seguin
Putting Tuukka Rask’s slump in perspective 01.13.14 at 9:33 pm ET
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Tuukka Rask had never had a stretch in the NHL like the one he had prior to Saturday’s shutout. He’s sure he’ll one day have another, but for the Bruins and his Vezina campaign’s sake, he’s hoping it won’t be for a while.

Rask, who leads the league with five shutouts and is fourth with a .930 save percentage, had a woeful go of it from Dec. 28 to Jan. 9, getting pulled after allowing three goals in a little over one period losses to the Senators and Kings and allowing five goals apiece to the Islanders and Ducks. He picked up just win over the five game stretch, allowing one goal in a 4-1 win over the Jets.

As alarming as those numbers were, it’s worth noting that great goaltending performances — even Vezina ones — see dark times. Here are a few:

– In 2011, Vezina winner Tim Thomas gave up 14 goals over three starts from Feb. 11-15 while also allowing a goal in a period of relief in that stretch.

– The following season, Vezina winner Henrik Lundqvist allowed at least three goals in five straight games from March 3 to March 11.

– 2007-08 Vezina winner Martin Brodeur had a shaky stretch very early on the season, allowing at least three goals in five straight from Oct. 10 to Oct. 18 and giving up at least four in three of those starts. He also gave up 23 goals over a six-game stretch the previous season, which also saw him win the Vezina.

“It happens,” Rask said of such stretches Monday. “It’s hockey and the more you play, the odds are that it’s going to happen. You just have to work through it, and it’s tough but it’s reality. It’s going to happen again — hopefully not this year, but in the coming years and you just have to work through it and hope for the best.”

It wouldn’t be a leap to point to the fact that Rask’s rough patch began in the Bruins’ first game following Dennis Seidenberg‘s season-ending ACL/MCL tear. That wasn’t the only reason for the slump, but the B’s clearly looked to be a work in progress as they grid to acclimate to life without Seidenberg.

“We’re adjusting. I think it’s new for everybody when you miss a guy like that,” Rask said. “He’s a regular guy that plays a lot of minutes, so getting new pairings and stuff like that. As long as we put our minds into it defensively, it will be good. We’ve got some younger guys who are growing into their roles and it’s a learning curve, but we’re working [in] the right way.”

This will be another busy year for Rask, as he will follow last season’s 75-game workload with a full NHL season, the Olympics in the middle and hopefully a long playoff run in the spring.

Though he joked that he “always feels like [droppings]” when asked about how his body is holding up, Rask says that fatigue hasn’t been a major factor for him this season and doesn’t see it becoming one.

“Not too much,” he said. “I think everybody’s feeling somewhat of the schedule being so heavy, but I haven’t felt too tired. It’s draining mentally when you travel a lot and play every other day for weeks, so it can be draining, but I think we can keep things light when necessary.”

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Tuukka Rask pulled as Kings best Bruins 01.10.14 at 1:12 am ET
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Tuukka Rask was pulled for the third time in his last 10 starts as the Bruins fell to the Kings, 4-2, Thursday in Los Angeles.

The loss was the Bruins’ second of their three-game west coast road trip, and they’ll look to salvage something from the trip when they close it out Saturday in San Jose. The B’s have now lost five of their last six games on the road.

Jeff Carter scored the only goal of the first period, but two goals in the first 1:45 of the second from Justin Williams (on the power play) and Alec Martinez, respectively, led to Chad Johnson being called upon in relief of Rask. Johnson would allow one goal in a little less than two periods of play.

The Bruins got all of their scoring from their bottom six, as Matt Fraser one-timed a feed from Carl Soderberg past Jonathan Quick at 9:55 of the second to make it 3-1. After Dustin Brown made it 4-1 at 12:22 of the third, Justin Florek scored his first career NHL goal to bring the B’s back within two.

The game was the last of Shawn Thornton‘s 15-game suspension, meaning he will be eligible to return for Saturday’s game.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– Though the results aren’t exclusively tied to the injury, Tuukka Rask has had a rough go of it since the Bruins lost Seidenberg for the season. In five starts since Seidenberg went down, Rask has been pulled twice in the second period after allowing three goals and has given up five goals in two others. Those aren’t the kind of numbers the Vezina favorite got used to putting up in the first half of the season.

Patrice Bergeron is the best faceoff man in the NHL, so it isn’t often that you see him lose a faceoff cleanly in his own zone to lead to an opponent’s goal. That happened in the second period when Mike Richards beat him at the dot and drew the puck back to Regehr to set up Martinez’ goal.

– Here’s something you don’t see every day: Hamilton was called for playing the puck in the penalty box, as he began playing the puck as he got up at the expiration of a tripping penalty, but since his feet were still in the box, he was whistled for interference. Williams scored on the ensuing power play.

– Quick moved across his crease in speedy fashion to rob Soderberg with a blocker save in the opening minutes of the third period. It would have been a one-goal game had the Grade A opportunity gone in for the B’s. Quick also stopped Brad Marchand on a shorthanded breakaway with just under seven minutes to play.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– Hamilton turned in some impressive work in the neutral zone to start the play that led to Fraser’s goal. The second-year defenseman broke up a pass and then poked the puck through Martinez’ legs. From there, Soderberg carried the puck into the zone to feed Fraser, who fired off a strong one-timer to get the Bruins on the board.

Milan Lucic returned to the lineup after missing Tuesday’s game with food poisoning. It wasn’t the prettiest return to the lineup, however, as his line was a minus-2 on the night.

– Florek’s been able to make an impact in his limited time in the Bruins’ lineup. So far he’s provided a screen on a Torey Krug goal, assisted a Daniel Paille tally and scored a goal of his own. The 6-foot-4 forward appears to be capable of playing as a fourth-liner in the NHL.

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Andy Brickley on M&M: Bruins ‘have to replace Dennis Seidenberg with a guy from outside the organization’ 01.08.14 at 1:00 pm ET
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NESN Bruins analyst Andy Brickley made his weekly appearance with Mut & Merloni on Wednesday, following the Bruins’ 5-2 loss to the Ducks on Tuesday night in the first of three games on the West Coast this week. To hear the interview, go to the Mut & Merloni audio on demand page.

“I was actually impressed with the way the Bruins played in the first period, when you talk about how good is Anaheim and how good in Boston,” Brickley said. “But their penalty-killing just totally let them down last night. It will be another stern test on Thursday [vs. the Kings], and probably even a tougher one on Saturday [vs. the Sharks].”

The Bruins appear to struggling to adjust since the loss of defenseman Dennis Seidenberg on Dec. 27 to a torn MCL and ACL in his right knee.

“The biggest void on this team right now is clearly the loss of Dennis Seidenberg,” Brickley said. “They’re going to try in the short term to continue to win games and put some points on the board in his absence within the organization to make up for his loss. But long term, and if they think they have a chance to win another Stanley Cup or get to a Stanley Cup final, there’s no question they’re going to have to replace Dennis Seidenberg with a guy from outside the organization.”

The Bruins have had a dip defensively and most notably on the penalty kill since Seidenberg went down.

“I think [Seidenberg’s absence] has a lot to do with it,” Brickley said. “I don’t know if it’s a one-to-one correlation with that kind of lack of getting the job done when it comes to killing penalties in his absence, but yeah, he’s one of those guys that’s got real good gaps, he’s able to hold that defensive blue line better than most defenseman, he wins way more than his share of one-on-one battles when the puck’s up for grabs, he’s a good decision-maker, when to be aggressive, when not to be, when to hold your position, he’s real good with stick position, he blocks a ton of shots when killing penalties, he gets to the loose puck so there’s no second and third opportunities when the rebound’s are there. So he does all the stuff that you need a quality penalty-killer on the defensive side [to do].

“In his absence, you still have other guys that can do the job, but he’s one of your premier penalty-killers. He’s just an awesome player in this system, with this group, in his role. When you lose a guy like that, you still have guys like [Johnny] Boychuck and [Adam] McQuaid that are pretty good in that area but not as good as a Dennis Seidenberg.”

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Read More: Andy Brickley, Dennis Seidenberg, Milan Lucic, Patric Bergeron
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