By Tony Massarotti, 98.5 The Sports Hub
You want the truth? I think the Bruins have resigned themselves to the fact that they don’t have the goaltending.
Whether a focused, committed Tuukka Rask would have made a difference is anybody’s guess, of course, but that’s the worst part. We’ll never know. And we’re not blaming him, per se, because there’s no way of knowing the real reasons Rask opted out of the bubble during the Bruins’ first-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes.
But if Tampa Bay is simply better than the Bruins – and it certainly looks and feels that way – well, then any chance the Bruins had would have required their goaltender to do handsprings and backflips in addition to the proverbial headstands.
That isn’t going to happen here. Or at the very least, it hasn’t. And every time the Bruins allow a goal now – let alone a softy – take a good look at them. They buckle.
Scary truths: the Bruins haven’t held a lead in this series since Game 2, when they were up 2-1. Going back to Game 1, since the Bruins held a 3-0 lead, Tampa Bay has an edge in scoring, 17-5. Saturday’s 3-1 defeat was a 1-0 deficit when Jaroslav Halak allowed a goal to beat him on the glove side – again – and it felt like an iceberg just blew another hole through the side of the Titanic.
Halak? He isn’t really to blame here. There’s a reason he is a second goalie, whether you want to refer to him as a backup or a 1B. But the fact is that he has an .891 save percentage for the series – the Bruins’ overall number is .881 including the premature debut of Daniel Vladar – and it’s never a good thing when Brad Wanamaker has a better chance of making a free throw than a Bruins goalie does of stopping the puck.
Bruins players will never admit this, of course, because they care too much about Halak. And because they know he has been put in an impossible position. And before you ask the obvious question – well then how did the Bruins beat Carolina? – let’s preempt that line of questioning.
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Tampa Bay is better than Carolina. Tampa Bay is probably better than Boston. And in the NHL playoffs, especially, any lack of confidence will be revealed as a fatal flaw, and the Bruins right now have both.
Could it change?
But the Bruins right now feel terribly, terribly brittle – mentally more than physically – and brittle things typically respond the same way under pressure.
They go to pieces.
You can hear Tony Massarotti weekdays from 2-6 p.m. EST on the Felger & Massarotti program. Follow him on Twitter @TonyMassarotti.