Tuukka Rask is having a very good season overall. He didn’t need to be that good to get a win on Thursday. But if the Bruins really want to make a deep playoff run, he’ll have to avoid stinkers like the one he had against the Penguins.
The Bruins absolutely throttled the Penguins with eight goals on Thursday. And the main takeaways are that the power play may have finally woken up and the team’s newest additions look great so far. But the big win would’ve been an absolute laugher if not for a dreadful first period for Rask.
He knows it.
“Yeah the first period I thought we were playing with white pucks there,” Rask told reporters after the game. “The only time I saw the puck was when I dug it out of the net. Had some red bull in the intermission there and I actually made a couple saves after that.”
Rask allowed three goals in the first period on just seven shots on goal by the Penguins. They were all very stoppable pucks. And Rask wishes he wasn’t the one who messed up.
“Yeah the first one, I reacted like it was going high and it was kind of a wobbly puck,” said Rask. “The second one bad angle shot and the third one, I mean I could have had a couple of those at least but you know, I battled back, made a couple saves.
“We played a heck of a game. Everybody was going. It was fun to watch. Too bad I was playing goal, I wish I was in the stands having a beer.”
First, Olli Maatta snuck a wrist shot through Rask’s glove side with the goalie getting a more-or-less clean look at the puck.
The next goal by Phil Kessel should be stopped 100 percent of the time. He didn’t seal off the side post quite enough and Kessel was somehow able to tuck it through from what should be an impossible angle.
And with just 3 seconds left in the frame, Riley Sheahan caused a turnover with a blocked shot and took the puck the other way. Rask needs to stop this puck, which instead found its way through the five-hole.
The fourth goal took a couple of funny bounces and would be tough for any goalie to stop, so not much of an issue there. But the first three were not good.
Look, I’m not one of these “Tuukka can’t show up in a big game” guys. I give him credit when he plays well, which he did for the better part of two months in the middle of the season. But it’s also fair to point out when he has a bad night. He had one on Thursday and he’s keenly aware of that.
And the Penguins game wasn’t exactly an isolated incident with Rask, either. He’s allowed 21 goals and posted an .888 save percentage in his last seven starts. He was spectacular in 15 games before that (.941 save percentage, 14-0-1 record). He’s just not the same guy lately.
Rask still has plenty of time to flip back to what he was in December and January. Another hot streak in April and beyond would, of course, make all the difference in the world for the Bruins. It’s just that the B’s aren’t going to score eight times every night. Rask needs to turn things around with the busiest stretch of the season coming this month.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.