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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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Tuukka Rask to represent Finland in Sochi Olympics 01.07.14 at 8:31 am ET
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Finland announced its roster for the 2014 Sochi Olympics, with Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask among the three goaltenders selected.

Rask will be part of a strong goaltending group for Finland, who is also sending Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi. All three goalies are in the NHL‘s top 25 in save percentage, led by Rask, whose .934 clip is third in the league. Rask is also tied for the NHL lead with four shutouts this season.

Predators netminder Pekka Rinne is not on the team as he recovers from hip surgery. The roster is as follows:

Goalie: Kari Lehtonen, Antti Niemi, Tuukka Rask

Defense: Lasse Kukkonen, Juuso Hietanen, Sami Lepisto, Olli Maatta, Sami Salo, Kimmo Timonen, Ossi Vaananen, Sami Vatanen

Forward: Juhamatti Aaltonen, Aleksander Barkov, Valtteri Filppula, Mikael Granlund, Jussi Jokinen, Olli Jokinen, Mikko Koivu, Leo Komarov, Petri Kontiola, Lauri Korpikoski, Jori Lehtera, Antti Pihlstrom, Tuomo Ruutu, Teemu Selanne

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

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Zdeno Chara’s two goals, Tuukka Rask’s shutout lead Bruins past Flames 12.17.13 at 9:37 pm ET
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Zdeno Chara scored twice and Tuukka Rask shut out the Flames as the B’s returned to TD Garden with a 2-0 victory Tuesday.

Calgary forward Lance Bouma high-sticked Kevan Miller in both the second and third period, and both resulted in power-play goals from Chara. David Krejci and Jarome Iginla had assists on both Chara goals, meaning Iginla has now registered a point agaist every NHL team in his career.

Rask made 20 saves in the shutout, his third of the season. Retto Berra stopped 29 of the 31 shots he saw in his second loss against the Bruins in eight days.

The Bruins will travel to face the Sabres in Buffalo Thursday.

WHAT WENT RIGHT FOR THE BRUINS

– With his two goals, Chara leads NHL defensemen with nine strikes on the season, surpassing Torey Krug and Erik Karlsson (eight apiece). Six of Chara’s nine goals this season have come on the power play.

– Though the shots were 10-9 in favor of the Bruins in the first period, they were lucky that Calgary stayed off the scoreboard in the first 20 minutes. Among their chances on which they failed to convert was a Brian McGrattan miss of an open net and two quick saves from Rask in succession on former B’s first round pick Joe Colborne.

Colborne also couldn’t finish on a third period play in which he was fed down low off the rush, so the Flames had their chances; they just didn’t capitalize.

- Craig Cunningham made his NHL debut as Matt Fraser was kept out of the Bruins’ lineup for an undisclosed ailment. The team did clarify that Fraser was not a healthy scratch. Cunningham played on Gregory Campbell‘s line with Jordan Caron.

– In not scoring Tuesday night, the Flames have still not scored at TD Garden since Oct. 19, 2006.

- Ryan Spooner only took faceoffs, but he won them all. Given how he started at the dot during this callup (and he was 1-for-6 last week against the Flames), that’s progress.

WHAT WENT WRONG FOR THE BRUINS

– The Bruins could stand to do without any bad hits or unwise decision as their reputation heals in wake of Shawn Thornton’s suspensions and Brad Marchand’s antics in Vancouver, but Marchand turned in a bad hit from behind on Sean Monhahan in the second period. Monahan had already turned and his numbers were facing Marchand the whole way as the Bruins forward threw him into the boards. Marchand was assessed a two-minute boarding minor for the infraction, and it wouldn’t be a surprised if he gets a call from Brendan Shanahan as well.

Marchand also missed the empty net twice when the Flames pulled Berra, including once from the hashmarks.

– The refs missed one of the toughest calls to miss when Matt Stajan high-sticked Zdeno Char in the Bruins’ zone in the second period. Chara fell to the ice holding his right eye and remained down for a moment before skating off under his own power. The B’s were on the power play shortly after following a Lance Bouma high sticking double minor for catching Kevan Miller in the face, and fortunately for the B’s Chara was able to stay in the game and score on that power play.

Chara left the bench briefly later in the period but stayed in the game.

– Krug has had a quiet go of it goals-wise, as he has just one goal in his last 10 games.

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Chad Johnson likely in net for Bruins vs. Blue Jackets 11.30.13 at 11:32 am ET
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It would appear that Chad Johnson will be between the pipes for Saturday night’s game between the Bruins and the Blue Jackets. Both Johnson and Tuukka Rask participated in an optional morning skate for the Bruins, but Rask stayed out much longer than Johnson.

Johnson has started just four of the Bruins’ 26 games this season. He is 3-1-0 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.21 goals-against average. His last start came last Saturday against the Hurricanes, with each of his last two starts resulting in overtime wins for the Bruins.

Saturday’s game is the second of a back-to-back for the Bruins, as it follows Friday’s 3-2 win over the Rangers. It’s the fifth time the Bruins have had back-to-backs this season, but the first in which the B’s haven’t had to travel. Rask has started both games of two of the Bruins’ back-to-backs thus far, with the two goalies splitting the other two to this point.

The Bruins will have four days between games following Saturday, as they won’t play again until they face the Canadiens in Montreal on Thursday.

Nathan Horton did not travel to Boston and remains on long-term injury reserve for the Blue Jackets. He has yet to play for them since getting offseason shoulder surgery, though he has been skating with them since last week.

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

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Tuukka Rask in line for third start in four nights 11.21.13 at 12:34 pm ET
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After playing both games of a back-to-back Monday and Tuesday against the Hurricanes and Rangers, Tuukka Rask appears to be on tap to be between the pipes again for the Bruins on Thursday against the Blues.

Rask was the first goaltender off the ice in the team’s morning skate and should have his work cut out for him Thursday evening. The Blues are fifth in the NHL with 70 goals, led by left winger Alexander Steen, whose 17 goals are tied with Alexander Ovechkin for tops in the NHL. St. Louis stands fourth in the Western Conference, though its 31 points (14-3-3) are two more than the Eastern Conference-leading Bruins (14-6-1).

Rask is coming off a dominant outing Tuesday in New York in which he made 43 saves in a 2-1 victory over the Rangers. He has played all but three of the Bruins’ 21 contests this season.

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