Pulled from last Saturday’s Game 5 loss to the Maple Leafs after allowing four goals on just 13 shots against, Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask was honest when assessing his downright horrendous performance.
“Probably could’ve stopped more pucks with my eyes closed,” Rask, whose early departure made him the first Boston goalie pulled from a playoff game since Blaine Lacher in 1995, admitted. “That’s about it. It’s on me.”
But it was after taking the blame straight to the face that Rask subtly made a guarantee in regards to the B’s fate.
“[We’re] moving on to the next one and we’ll finish it out in Toronto,” said Rask.
Of course, Rask’s lone shot at making good on such a guarantee comes with tonight’s Game 6 showdown at the Air Canada Centre. And before he gets stoned to death for giving the Maple Leafs potential bulletin-board material, it’s worth noting that Rask is not the first postseason talent to make an opening-round guarantee of sorts.
The Capitals’ Alex Ovechkin guaranteed that the Capitals would return to Washington for a Game 5 after going down 0-2 in their first-round series to the Blue Jackets. The Capitals did just that, and even won Game 5 to take control of the series. And Blue Jackets head coach John Tortorella has since attempted to match Ovechkin with a proclamation that his team will be returning to D.C. for a Game 7. Like Rask, Tortorella gets his chance tonight.
Still, it’s an unbelievably bold statement from Rask considering his past, with just five wins and an .895 save percentage in 16 prior elimination games in his NHL career and with a 1-5 record in Game 6s in his career.
At the same time, though, Rask very well could be on to something here.
It was in Game 1 that Rask delivered a 26-of-27 winning performance, and followed that up with a 30-of-33 effort in Game 2. And when he left something to be desired in a so-so Game 3 loss in Toronto, Rask bounced back with his first steal of the postseason in a 31-of-32 Game 4 performance. In essence, and with an admittedly small sample size on hand, Rask has rarely been the same goaltender for two games in a row at any point in this series.
“That’s the way it is,” Rask said when asked about his hot and cold play in the series. “You play good, you kind of put it behind you; you play bad, you put it behind you. You just stay even no matter what happens. That’s hockey.
“Sometimes you’re awesome, sometimes you’re not.”
Rask clearly believes that he’ll be awesome Monday. And with guarantees like that, he better be.
Ty Anderson 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 Ty? Follow him on Twitter @_TyAnderson.