Boston Bruins

Boston Bruins

Jan 13, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (40) is congratulated by center Patrice Bergeron (37) after their 3-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers during the third period at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

Thursday night was not like most nights at TD Garden for Bruins lifer Tuukka Rask.

“You know, it was [emotional],” the 34-year-old Rask said of his 2022 debut. “It was very much out of the normal, I guess, the way I was feeling before the game. It was great to see the fans’ support. The best fans.”

One night after a victory over the Canadiens ended with ‘We want Tuukka’ chants, Rask’s night started with an extended round of applause and ‘Tuuuuuu’ choruses with his introduction in the B’s starting lineup. And when the puck dropped on the game itself, Rask looked to be his normally poised self on the way on a 25-of-27 win.

“In terms of just tracking the puck, playing the game, and stopping the puck, I’d say he looked like old Tuukka,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said after the win. “Got tested late. Obviously spent a lot of time in our room with the penalties and the empty net, but good for him. Glad to see him come through. I think the guys played hard for him, especially when we needed to down the stretch.”

“Oh man, I was so happy to have him back,” David Pastrnak said. “You have no idea. I was ready to leave it all there for him.”

For Rask, the game was mostly pain free. It’s the first time he’s been able to say that since before the 2020 playoff bubble. Dealing with hip issues since then, the worst pain for Rask over the last year plus would come when it would have to readjust and drop down into the butterfly on a deflection or redirect. Flexing out to his right in those instances caused the most discomfort.

On Thursday, it was all weapons available.

“A hundred percent,” Rask said of his arsenal. “100 percent. Like even though it wasn’t killing me in every single game last year, it’s always in the back of your head that certain movements are limited. And now when you don’t have that, like in the first I think I had like two or three kick saves to the right and then in the third there was that wraparound where I kind of extended. Some stuff like that last year. it was totally out of the question.

“So it’s great to feel that I have the ability to move forward both ways.”

It was probably about as good a first game in over half a month that Rask could’ve asked for, all things considered. It was a slow build in terms of first-period shots against, but Rask had to stop two breakaway chances in the middle frame from the Flyers’ Joel Farabee and Cam Atkinson, and then had an absolute grind of a finish for the final half of the third period.

“I felt like I was home, basically,” Rask offered. “The start wasn’t the easiest, you know, there’s no shots for the first. I don’t know how many minutes. But luckily, there was a couple feel-good shots and then you kind of get yourself in it. You know, obviously, if the start would have been like those two goals — a deflection and whatever double backdoor — you know, [if] those are your first two shots, then you’re like, ‘Oh, this is what it’s like, you know.'”

Here are some other thoughts and notes from a 3-2 win over Philly

  • Jan 13, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Hats litter the ice as Boston Bruins right wing David Pastrnak (88) skates towards the bench after scoring his third goal of the game as Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim (6) passes by during the second period at TD Garden. (Winslow Townson/USA TODAY Sports)

    David Pastrnak makes it rain like few others

    Perhaps it’s no shock that a man with David Pastrnak’s fashion sense likes making it rain hats on the ice. But the rate at which Pastrnak is putting in these three-goal nights is getting silly, even by fashion week standards.

    With Thursday’s hat trick on the board, Pastrnak is now up to 11 career hat tricks. That ties him with Sidney Crosby for the third-most among active players, with only Evgeni Malkin (12) and Alex Ovechkin (28) ahead of him. All three of these players have played at least 470 more game than Pastrnak, too.

    Just a crazy pace.

    Pastrnak’s 11 hat tricks are also the fourth-most in Bruins history, trailing Phil Esposito (26), Cam Neely (14), and Johnny Bucyk (12).

  • Jan 12, 2022; Boston, Massachusetts, USA; Boston Bruins defenseman Urho Vaakanainen (58) is congratulated by left wing Tomas Nosek (92) and defenseman Matt Grzelcyk (48) after scoring his first NHL goal during the third period against the Montreal Canadiens at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara/USA TODAY Sports

    The Nosebleed Line is putting in some serious work

    Not gonna lie: Really, really digging this Anton Blidh-Tomas Nosek-Curtis Lazar line. I’ve actually liked this line’s game every time we’ve seen them this season.

    There’s just an element of pace, tenacity, and chaos with this line every time they step on the ice, and it comes from all three players, too!

    By now, there’s no reason for the Bruins to take Blidh out of the lineup. He’s found the perfect blend between problem and pest. He plays every single shift like it’s his last, and has been a positive nearly every night. He drew the penalty to help get the B’s on the board with their first power-play goal of the evening Thursday.

    Nosek is perhaps the most skilled fourth-line center the Bruins have iced in the Cassidy era, and Lazar is your classic do-it-all forward who contributes at both ends. On Thursday, Lazar made his impact felt with three faceoff wins and a huge blocked shot to help the B’s preserve the win.

  • Apr 6, 2021; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Philadelphia Flyers center Claude Giroux (28) against the Boston Bruins at Wells Fargo Center. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

    Hey, here’s a (maybe) crazy idea: Get Claude Giroux

    The return of Tuukka Rask is just another confirmation that the Bruins are indeed all in on 2022. Given the age of Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand, that’s no surprise.

    And while the Bruins have something working with Erik Haula between Taylor Hall and David Pastrnak, second-line center could (and should) still very well be at the top of the B’s wish list between now and the deadline.

    So, what about Claude Giroux?

    It may seem completely out of left field, but the 34-year-old Giroux is in the final year of his contract, and the Flyers currently sit 11 points out of a playoff spot and did not get that New Coach Bump when they made the switch from Alain Vigneault to Mike Yeo last month. In fact, their point percentage is practically the same.

    Giroux, a right-shooting center, may also be exactly what the Bruins need to get that Taylor Hall-David Pastrnak combo cooking to its full strength, as the Flyer captain has always done his best work with a legit sniper on his line. He’s also still quite productive, with 11 goals and 29 points through 33 games this year, and he’s still one of the best faceoff men in the league, at 61.8 percent this year.

    It is worth noting that Giroux does possess a full no-movement clause, meaning that he would have to waive it to go anywhere, and it’s unclear if he has any interest in leaving Philadelphia at all.

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