|Tuukka Rask: ‘When we play Bruins hockey, we can beat anybody’||11.19.14 at 1:38 am ET|
For one of the few times this season, Tuukka Rask felt like the Bruins showed their true potential.
Maybe it was his 33 saves in a 2-0 shutout over the Blues. Maybe it was the better play he saw in front of him in the defensive zone. Or maybe it was just beating a team that could wind up in the Stanley Cup finals. Whatever it was, Rask had a lot to like about the way he and his teammates played Tuesday night at TD Garden.
“Well, it’s always a good team we beat, but then again we know when we play the Bruins hockey, we can beat anybody and we’re a tough team to beat ourselves,” Rask said. “It just goes to show again, when we play that style of hockey it works. Hopefully we realize it one of these days and keep it consistent too.”
The Bruins were consistent for 60 minutes Tuesday in an effort that handed the Blues just their second loss in 12 games. Rask was asked if it were the best 60-minute effort of the year.
“It was, yeah absolutely,” Rask said. “We started off really hard. Right off the bat we took the puck in their end and played there. The first period was probably the best one, you know, twenty minutes’you’re always going to get a little ups and downs through the games but for the most part we kept things tight and played a good game.
“I think pretty much everybody was going today, you know, full 60. We’re a good team when we have everybody going. As far as the team effort goes, in a 60 minute effort, that was our best game I think.”
|Pierre McGuire on MFB: ‘Dumbfounded’ at Bruins’ loss to Maple Leafs||11.13.14 at 1:43 pm ET|
NBC Sports NHL analyst Pierre McGuire made his weekly appearance Thursday on Middays with MFB, following broadcasting the Bruins’ blowout loss to Toronto Wednesday night and to discuss the state of the team going into Thursday’s game against Montreal. To hear the interview, go to the MFB audio on demand page.
McGuire was inside the benches during the Bruins’ 6-1 loss Wednesday night, and did not like what he saw from the Bruins team, which was unexpected as he thought they would have played well going in.
“I said this last night, and I meant it sincerely, I haven’t seen the Bruins get beat like that in a long time,” said McGuire. “I was dumbfounded by that because I was around their room, I talked to their coaches before the game. The players really had an intense situation that they were looking at, they were looking like they were up to the challenge.
“The coaches were really excited — they had won six of their previous seven, all seven games that they had played previously [Zdeno] Chara wasn’t there, and they were finding ways to get it done. Obviously [Patrice] Bergeron and [Dougie] Hamilton were really playing well. I had the feeling they were going to play a really good game last night, and I was really wrong. They did not play a good game last night.”
Tuukka Rask was pulled in the second period after allowing four goals and although he might not have played in the second half of the back-to-back, McGuire says he should after what took place Wednesday night, and Rask not playing the entire game.
“[Tuukka] has to get his team’s confidence in Montreal, so that the team knows that he can deliver there,” he said. “It is up to him, and if I were Claude [Julien], he’s playing tonight.”
“You have to get back on your horse and Tuukka is going to play guilty tonight,” he added. “I don’t know if he is going to be good enough to win or not, but he has to get in there and play guilty and say, ‘I wasn’t good enough last night.’ I think he’s that honest with himself and with his teammates, that I think he will play guilty tonight.”
Following are more highlights from the interview. For more Bruins news, visit the team page at weei.com/bruins.
“They said the same thing about Henrik Lundqvist last year,” Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban said. “He seemed to play pretty well.”
Indeed, Lundqvist did.
After not winning in Montreal since 2009 and being sat in games at the Bell Centre since 2012, the Rangers’ netminder went into Montreal and allowed three goals over the first two games (both Rangers wins) of the Eastern Conference finals last year. New York would go on to win the series in six games.
Rask has a career record of 3-11-3 against the Habs in the regular season overall, and is 3-6-0 against them in Montreal (4-7-0 including playoffs). He also lost two of his three starts against them at the Bell Centre last postseason, though his one win was a shutout. The goaltender also blanked them in Montreal in the 2009-10 season. He’s actually been worse against the Habs at the Garden than he’s been at the Bell Centre.
It isn’t like Rask has been a disaster against the Canadiens, but then again, not beating the Canadiens qualifies as a disaster for the Bruins.
“I wouldn’t look too much into it,” Subban said. “When he comes to this building, whenever we play Boston, it seems that we do a good job of getting traffic in front of him and not make it easy on him. It’s not an easy building to play in, but to say that he can’t have a good game here — I mean, I think he’s one of the best goalies in the league. He’s proven that and he’s played well against us at time.
“To be honest with you, when you see some of the goals that we’ve scored, we’ve done a good job of creating traffic. It’s not easy stopping second and third shots. We’ve had a couple of breakaways against him — that’s a 50-50 chance — so I think if we’re not prepared to get traffic in front of him tonight and make his life a living hell, then I don’t think we’re doing ourselves justice.”
|5 things we learned as Maple Leafs made Bruins miss Zdeno Chara||11.12.14 at 10:32 pm ET|
TORONTO – The first eight games of the Zdeno Chara-less schedule looked like a group of largely winnable contests before they would have to face the Canadiens.
For as well as the Bruins survived that stretch, they ended it in disastrous fashion.
For all the bad moments have had this season — and they’ve had plenty between their early-season struggles and the injuries they’ve suffered – they hadn’t really gotten walloped by anyone, let alone a Maple Leafs opponent they had handled easily without Chara once already.
The Bruins’ 6-1 loss to the Maple Leafs (here is the box score) provided a reminder for anyone who had forgotten that, though Boston hasn’t played many good teams of late, things are a lot harder without No. 33 on the ice. Phil Kessel, a player who is usually silent against his former team because of Chara, enjoyed a two-goal night against Boston’s mortal blue line.
Tuukka Rask was yanked after giving up three goals early in the second period and four on the night. Even what looked like a well-targeted Bruins goal by Reilly Smith was negated in the second period by Carl Soderberg being in the crease.
Of course, it wasn’t just about Chara, Rask or Boston’s defense. This was one of those once-in-a-season colossal stinkers that a team can only hope will end up being their worst loss of the season with few other candidates.
Here are four other things we learned Wednesday night:
|Tuukka Rask expected to start vs. Maple Leafs||at 12:36 pm ET|
Should Rask play Wednesday, it will make Thursday night’s matchup against the Canadiens even more interesting. The Bruins could sit Rask, who has historically struggled in Montreal, and play Niklas Svedberg against the Habs, or play Rask in both games. Rask has played both games of two back-to-backs this season, as he played on the first two days of the season and then made back-to-back starts on Oct. 15 and 16.
Rask started all five games of the team’s recent four-game homestand, winning all four.
Jonathan Bernier will start for Toronto. Bernier was in net for the Leafs the last time the teams met, allowing all four goals in a 4-1 Bruins victory.
For more Bruins news, visit weei.com/bruins.
|Why Tuukka Rask is pleased with Dougie Hamilton after yelling at him||10.28.14 at 1:04 pm ET|
Dougie Hamilton is receiving praise left and right for what some might call a breakout* performance against the Maple Leafs, but it was his response to the low moment of his three-point game that might be the biggest takeaway.
Hamilton was the last line of defense as the Bruins, stuck in their zone, surrendered the Leafs’ lone goal of the game in the third period. The man Hamilton was covering, Richard Panik, scored with the Bruins scrambling during a delayed penalty to break up Tuukka Rask‘s shutout. Rask could be seen barking at Hamilton after the goal.
On Hamilton’s next shift, James van Riemsdyk went to the net and Hamilton manhandled him on a play that resulted in matching roughing minors. Intentionally or not, it was a good sign that Hamilton, a 6-foot-5 third-year player with no fighting majors to his name, does not want to be taken lightly around his net. Furthermore, it was a response Rask was happy to see.
“That’s what you have to do; you have do hold your ground and not let those guys get in there,” Rask said. “That’s exactly what he did. As long as it’s an even call, that’s alright.”
Shifts are usually around 45-50 seconds, sometimes more and sometimes less. Hamilton ended up being stuck on the ice for 1:37 on the shift that cost Rask what would have been his shutout of the season. During a delayed penalty call on Daniel Paille for tripping Panik, Rask had to face three shots from three different angles. A point shot squirted into the corner and was retrieved by Nazem Kadri, whose cross-ice pass to Cody Franson yielded another shot stopped by Rask. Tyler Bozak whacked the rebound across the net to Panik, who jammed it past both Rask and Hamilton, the latter of whom had been covering Panik but retreated into the net amidst the chaos.
“It was definitely my fault,” Hamilton, who had a goal and two assists in the game, said of the goal. “I was gassed and trying to playing to goalie, obviously with the shutout on the line. I apologized to him.”
Rask said Tuesday that though he reacted vocally, he didn’t mean to chew Hamilton out any more than he intended to express frustration with the overall work in front of him on the shift.
Hamilton said that on his next shift, he felt he had to “refocus and make sure I was being strong.” That ended up being subpar news for van Riemsdyk, who became the focal point of Hamilton’s aggression.
Rask wants and expects the defensemen in front of him to box players out and make them pay a price if they want to get close to the net. When that doesn’t happen, he isn’t afraid to tell them. That isn’t such a bad thing.
With Zdeno Chara out for at least a few more weeks, other players need to provide the physical presence and intimidation factor around the net. Rask will be happy to see more of that from Hamilton as he continues to round into a top defender.
“He obviously wants to be one of the best defensemen in the league, and that’s something he has to get better at, is the defensive side of his game,” Rask said. “He’s really picked up on that and gotten better, so I like it.”
*Hamilton broke out last season.
|Tuukka Rask, who knows who Johnny Boychuk is, prepares to face Johnny Boychuk||10.22.14 at 2:10 pm ET|
“Oh, is he playing? I hope he gets the start. It would be good for him,” Rask said Wednesday when asked what it would be like to play against “Johnny.”
Proving that goaltenders live in their own goaltending world, Rask thought that the “Johnny” being discussed was Islanders backup Chad Johnson, who spent last season playing in Boston with Rask.
Rask laughed when he realized his error, adding that he obviously wished the best for his former teammate. He did note that if he allowed a goal to Boychuk, who has already scored twice this season for the Islanders, Rask would “never hear the end of it.”
“He actually texted me after he got traded,” Rask said. “He said whenever we play I should give him a goal, but I hope he doesn’t score.”
Rask was then reminded that he already has a big contract, while Boychuk is in the final year of his contract. If Rask were a true friend, he’d help Boychuk boost those numbers and net him a bigger payday.
“Yeah, well if the game’s 9-1 or something for us, then accidents happen,” Rask said with a grin.
As for Boychuk himself, the 30-year-old is loving life with the Islanders, but said it will be very difficult to take the ice Thursday (and undoubtedly receive a warm welcome) in front of the Garden crowd.
“[Expletive],” Boychuk said this week when asked what he expected. “That’s going to be… different. It’s going to be hard. It will definitely be hard.”
Claude Julien said he’s happy for the early success Boychuk has had with the 4-2-0 Islanders. Boychuk’s six points through six games are as many as he had in the lockout-shortened 2013 season with the Bruins.
“He’s a good team guy. He’s an easy guy to like for players and coaches,” Julien said. “He came in and played a big role in our Stanley Cup run. Many thought he’d be an American Leaguer. We traded for him and he stepped up and became a really reliable defenseman in this league, and obviously a good defenseman. We lost a good person and a good player.
“You’re always happy that he’s happy well — of course you’re going to hear us say except when it’s against us, but I don’t think there’s anybody here that wishes [anything] but the best for him. Then you move on, and that’s what we’re trying to do. Hopefully he’s done the same thing. He seems to have done that. When you look at his start with that team, he’s had a good start as well.”