Are teams already trying to take liberties with Tuukka Rask?
By Ty Anderson, 985TheSportsHub.com
Red Sox-Yankees, Celtics-Lakers, the Bruins-Maple Leafs, and Tuukka Rask and a forward barreling towards his net at breakneck speed.
Just a few classic rivalries.
And much like the Maple Leafs as it relates to the Bruins, and after Thursday’s season-opening victory featured multiple runs at him, it’s a rivalry that Rask is absolutely not interested in continuing.
“I hope not,” Rask said with a chuckle when asked if he felt that the Devils were making it a point to run him. “Because we’re gonna play them seven more times. There seemed to be one every single time. But I think [Miles Wood] does that every game anyway because he’s so fast. I don’t know. You gotta ask them, but I don’t know.”
It started with Yegor Sharangovich’s collision with Rask after a Matt Grzelcyk penalty pushed him towards Rask’s crease, and continued with two collisions from Wood (both of which ended in penalty calls against Wood), and was capped with another collision, this one during a frantic overtime stretch.
Rask certainly took exception after the second one, which ended with him simply throwing his hands up, while the third one ended with Charlie McAvoy actually dragging Wood out of Rask’s net.
“Not a fan, obviously,” said Rask.
In 2019, it was the Rangers’ Filip Chytil who smoked Rask on a net-front drive and put him on the shelf with a concussion. Rask took another blow to the head last year, too, that time from the Blue Jackets’ Emil Bemstrom on a slightly different but still unacceptable move into Rask’s kitchen. The Bruins tried like hell to get Bemstrom to fight, but that eye-for-an-eye never materialized, and ultimately paved the way for Brett Ritchie’s move to the waiver wire and subsequent banishment to the minors.
And given that history, Bruce Cassidy is no fan of 2021 bringing about another open season on Rask.
“The Wood one, he’s been called for that a number of times,” Cassidy acknowledged. [But] we obviously addressed it: It’s Game 1, we’re in a close game, we’re trying to play the game and still keep people out of Tuukka’s way. Clearly that will be talked about [Friday]. That’s not something we want to be a trend.”
Cassidy also noted that the Bruins have the roster construct — with Trent Frederic, Chris Wagner, and Nick Ritchie in the bottom six and a healthy Kevan Miller on the backend — to prevent this from becoming the norm.
“We have plenty of guys in our lineup who can take care of business in that regard,” Cassidy noted. “We gotta discourage that.”
With another head-to-head between the Bruins and Devils on deck for Saturday afternoon, too, it’s safe to assume that the message will be sent in appropriate fashion should the Devils take another run at Rask.
Listen to Ty Anderson and Matt Dolloff preview the 2020-21 Bruins season in the newest episode of the SideLines podcast.