Category Archives: Tuukka Rask Jersey

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To put it simply, Tuukka Rask is locked in.

Since ceding the net to Anton Khudobin for four straight games in mid-November – a stretch of four wins that kick started Boston’s 14-4-1 run – Rask has lost only once in regulation and has now garnered points in 10 straight games.

Named the NHL’s First Star last week, Rask is 9-0-1 during the streak, with a 1.41 goals against average and .946 save percentage. And over his last three games, Rask has stopped 92 of the 95 shots that have come his way.

Rask, who did not play on Thursday in Washington, is hoping to keep it rolling when he returns to the net against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday night with the Bruins looking to bounce back from their shootout loss to the Capitals.

“I feel the same, I’m seeing the puck well, making saves. Don’t really feel too different,” Rask said following a limited skate at the Senators practice facility on Friday afternoon. “As a team we’ve played very good hockey and as I’ve said before that’s very helpful for goalies. When they clear out the bodies in front of you and if there’s any rebounds they clear out the rebound as well, that’s a big part of it.”

After starting 3-8-2, Rask has surged to a 12-8-3 record for the season with a 2.23 goals against average, which ranks fourth in the league and second behind Tampa Bay’s Andrei Vasilevskiy among those that have played in at least 24 games. Over a full campaign, they are numbers worthy of some hardware, not that the 2014 Vezina Trophy winner is thinking that way.

“It doesn’t matter. Things happen if they happen, we never play for the individual trophies anyways. But I think winning it once and looking back to it, the way your team plays in front of you plays a big role,” said Rask, who was named to his first All-Star team last season. “If your team doesn’t play well and they’re not playing good team defense then there’s no goalie that’s going to win it.

“It’s one of those trophies that even though it’s individual you look more at the team performance in front of the goalie as well. I’m fine with not being in that discussion.

“If it happens it happens. The biggest thing we’re worried about is our team performance.”

And it is that team performance that Rask does indeed credit for his recent string of victories. Since Nov. 16 – a span of 19 games – the Bruins have allowed 38 goals, good for second in the league. Prior to that point, the Bruins were 16th with 50 goals allowed in 16 games. For the season, Boston ranks fifth in the NHL (2.56).

“The way we play now, it’s good for goalies – you know you’re going to get some chances again. But it’s a trade-off, you know you’re going to get some chances for, too, in the offensive side,” said Rask. “It used to be that you’re focused so much on the defense that you’re only going to win games 1-0 or 2-1. As a goalie you know if you let in three goals you’re most likely going to lose.

“Nowadays, it’s more if you let in a bad goal you might be scoring four goals. That’s the biggest difference in that regard. When we’re playing well and everyone is on top of their game, it’s fun to watch and fun to play.”

Also contributing to Rask’s success is the success of Khudobin. Khudobin has eased the load on Rask – a focus for the Bruins entering the season – suiting up for 13 starts with an 8-2-3 record. The backup netminder’s 2.48 goals against average and .922 save percentage both rank 10th in the NHL.

“It’s been great. I think the things we wanted to accomplish is to have two goalies going and both feeling fresh,” said Rask. “That’s the main thing. I’ve felt fresh and I’m sure Doby’s felt fresh too. Haven’t felt like it’s been too heavy for either one of us.

“We’re on Game 35 or something right now, so almost to the halfway point, so gotta keep it going until the end.”

Getting Closer

Cassidy did not rule out the possibility that both David Krejci and Adam McQuaid return to action on Saturday in Ottawa. Krejci has missed the last six games with an upper-body injury, while McQuaid has been sidelined for some 10 weeks with a broken right fibula.

“Yes, a chance for both,” said Cassidy. “We’ll get a better idea after the skate. If we like where they’re at then they’ll both be game-time decisions. We’re not going to automatically assume [they're in] because tomorrow is a new day.”

Krejci, one of 12 players who participated in a limited practice on Friday, said he “felt good again” and is “optimistic” that he’ll be in the lineup if he wakes up feeling the same on Saturday.

McQuaid also practiced on Friday and said, “I feel like I’m pretty close. I feel better and better every day, so that’s a good sign. I’m antsy to get back in there.”

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The National Hockey League announced today, December 24, that Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask has been named the NHL first star of the week for the week ending December 24.

Rask, who was selected to the 2017 NHL All-Star Game, finished the week tied for first in the league with three wins, recording a 1.30 goals against average and .954 save percentage as the Bruins won all four of their games to improve to 19-10-5 (43 points), third in the Atlantic Division. On December 18, Rask stopped 16 of 18 shots to help lead the Bruins to a 7-2 home win over Columbus. On December 21, the 6-foot-3, 176-pound netminder stopped 37 of 38 shots, as well as three of four shootout attempts, to help the Bruins earn a 2-1 shootout win over Winnipeg. On December 23, Rask stopped 30 of 31 Detroit shots to lead Boston to a 3-1 win over the Red Wings before the team’s holiday break.

In his ninth NHL season, all with the Bruins, the 30-year-old Savonlinna, Finland native has compiled a 11-8-3 record with a 2.28 goals against average and .918 save percentage. Since December 1, Rask is tied for the league lead with seven wins, and paces all NHL goaltenders with a 1.39 goals against average and .950 save percentage (minimum five starts).

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The Bruins knew they had their work cut out for them on Saturday night. Boston was getting its first look at rookie sniper Matthew Barzal, who has joined an already potent New York Islanders lineup that includes John Tavares, Anders Lee, and Josh Bailey to form one of the NHL’s best offensive attacks.

A strong defensive effort was needed from top to bottom. And that’s exactly what the Bruins put forth.

Led by a 30-save performance by Tuukka Rask and some stifling play from the back end, the B’s charged to a 3-1 victory over the Isles at TD Garden for their eighth win in 10 games.

“We talked about the one thing that we had to really take care of was our D-zone tonight and we definitely did that,” said Patrice Bergeron. “Especially against an offensive team like the Islanders with so many gifted players, you can’t give them space and room, especially in the slot. I thought we kept them on the outside for the most part.

“Obviously they’re going to get some chances, they’re good players, but I thought it was a really good effort.”

Contributing to the stingy performance was Boston’s penalty kill. The unit had a perfect night in shutting down all four of New York’s power plays, which included two five-minute majors in the third period – one on Brad Marchand for interference and one on David Backes for head butting. On both majors, the Bruins drew penalties which helped limit the time they spent shorthanded.

“Those majors ended up being kind of three-minte power plays for them and then we draw a penalty. We cut it in half twice,” said Zdeno Chara. “That’s something that shows guys are working hard even away from the puck. Even when we are shorthanded we are capable of being dangerous and that’s what happened, we drew some penalties.”

Boston has now allowed one goal or fewer in three of its last four games and is playing its best all-around hockey of the season in front of Rask, who has won four straight starts. Including his relief performance in Nashville, the B’s ace netminder has allowed just five goals over his last five games for a 1.10 goals against average and .955 save percentage.

“Making those saves you can see he’s clear. He’s ready for anything, for every shot, and he looks confident,” said Bergeron. “Tonight he was great.”

After a tough month of November, during which he ceded the net to Anton Khudobin for a four-game stretch, Rask has found his stride and appears relaxed and composed between the pipes. Rask credited the play in front of him for his recent success.

“I’ve had good rhythm to my game,” said Rask. “Guys are doing a good job eliminating the second chances and obviously if you don’t get rebounds all the time it helps too, but we’re skating back so hard that we are kind of forcing them to take shots in bad spots and when they don’t have all the time in the world to pick the corners up, it’s kind of easier for me too.

“I think that’s played a huge part of that, coming back to our own zone and shutting them down in the slot area and also blocking a ton of shots. We’re not shying away from that, so I think all of those things together have made it.”

Much of the strong play in front of Rask came from the pairing of Torey Krug and Brandon Carlo. With Boston’s No. 1 duo of Chara and Charlie McAvoy assigned to track the Islanders top line, the responsibility of defending Barzal, Andrew Ladd, and Jordan Eberle fell to Krug and Carlo. The tandem had a terrific night as they kept the Islanders second-line trio off the board.

“That kid’s a heck of a player,” Krug, who had two assists, said of Barzal. “Seems like the puck follows him around. A couple bigger bodies that play with him and get to the net. It was a fun matchup for Brandon and myself. We both skate well and tried to shut them down with good gaps. When he’s coming at you with all that speed it’s tough, but I thought we did a good job overall.”

Barzal did manage a point – with Chara and McAvoy on the ice as the penalty to Backes expired – when he picked up an assist on Lee’s goal that cut the Bruins lead to 2-1 with just 3:08 remaining. It was all the Islanders could muster.

“We did a good job – obviously they’re a good team with some firepower and some really skilled guys, so we did a good job of defending from the inside out and Tuukks played a heck of a game,” said Krug. “He got a chance to see a lot of pucks and played it with a lot of confidence and our penalty killers were great.”

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Questions surrounding the Bruins’ surprise recall of Zane McIntyre were cleared up on Monday morning by head coach Bruce Cassidy.

Cassidy confirmed following the team’s pregame skate that Tuukka Rask would get the start against the Columbus Blue Jackets and that McIntyre was recalled on an emergency basis to be the backup. According to Cassidy, Anton Khudobin tweaked something in his lower body during Sunday’s optional practice and did not travel to Columbus.

“[Khudobin] just got off after practice yesterday and didn’t feel right, wasn’t feeling 100 percent, tweaked something in his lower body. So we just made a split-second decision,” said Cassidy. “He wasn’t gonna play, Tuukka was gonna start…so hold him off the ice today and tomorrow’s a scheduled day off, allow him to heal, nothing major.”

Atkinson Questionable

The Blue Jackets are coming off a disheartening 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday, in which they lost last season’s leading scorer Cam Atkinson to a lower-body injury. With Atkinson questionable, the Blue Jackets recalled 22-year-old forward Tyler Motte from the Cleveland Monsters (AHL).

After opening the season by winning five of their first six games, the Blue Jackets have gone 2-3-0 over their last five contests.

Nonetheless, the Bruins are still expecting a tight-checking matchup.

“They play hard, they’re on the puck, they have a system where they’re really aggressive and don’t give you that much space,” said Patrice Bergeron. “You need to work for every inch. We did that against L.A. and hopefully we can bring some of that tonight.”

Heading East

In a bit of an unusual scheduling quirk, Monday’s game against Columbus marks just the second against an Eastern Conference opponent for the Bruins this season. The only other matchup within the conference was against the Buffalo Sabres last week.

“It’s been different that way at the start of the year,” said Bergeron. “We all know that they’re a good team and it’s gonna be a pretty tough battle tonight.”

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Tuukka Rask did not have much of a choice. It was only practice, but the decision between leaving himself vulnerable to injury or vulnerable to allowing a goal was the same as it would have been in the middle of a game.

He was standing his ground.

Unfortunately for the Bruins ace netminder, the decision was costly.

During last Wednesday’s practice at Warrior Ice Arena, Rask was on the wrong end of a high-speed collision with Anders Bjork in the crease. Rask got up wobbly and needed assistance while retreating to the dressing room and was later diagnosed with a concussion. The backstop missed the Bruins last two games as he proceeded through the NHL’s concussion protocols.

“That’s a tough play because the guy’s driving and you have to respect the shot short-side so you’re holding your ground,” said Rask. “He was pushed in, so it’s just a tough play…you’re either exposing yourself to get scored on or you’re exposing yourself to possibly get hit.”

Rask escaped any major damage, however, and returned to practice on Tuesday in a limited fashion. If all goes according to plan, Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said it is a “possibility” that Rask could be back between the pipes on Thursday night against the San Jose Sharks at TD Garden.

“It’s been a good few days,” said Rask, who has not had any prior diagnosed concussions. “Skated [Monday] a little bit, today ramped it up a little more. [I'll] go through the concussion computer test and get cleared and we’ll talk tomorrow.

“If I feel good I’m gonna go out there. Why not, right? I just gotta pass that test. Hopefully my baseline wasn’t too high.”

During Tuesday’s practice, Rask appeared to be moving well in the crease and reported no ill effects from the session, though he did sit out some of the more high-intensity battle drills towards the end of the session.

“No, not really,” Rask said when asked if he practiced with any hesitations. “They didn’t want me to do contact, whatever that means for a goalie. I stayed out of the last couple drills. But I didn’t feel hesitant. I can’t go out there and try to be too careful.

“The drills that we did were set up in a way that it was only shots. The chances of being run down are slim. [Wednesday] will be full tilt.”

Rask said he battled through minor headaches, sensitivity to light, and some body-clock issues during the first few days after the collision, but was fortunate to not have any lingering symptoms.

“Luckily I didn’t lose consciousness or anything,” said Rask. “That helps and the doctors say, generally, if you haven’t had too many of those [concussions] you bounce back quickly. If it happens at an older age you tend to bounce back quicker.

“First two days it was a little foggy, but turned the corner pretty quickly. The whole protocol thing with the league you have to be careful that you don’t come back too early.”

Those concussion protocols have been thrust into the spotlight over the last 24 hours after Los Angeles goalie Jonathan Quick was removed from Tuesday night’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs following a collision. One of the NHL’s concussion spotters deemed it necessary for Quick to exit the game, but Quick never went through the protocol and returned to the game moments later.

“It’s a fine line. The spotters, if they see something and they pull you out there’s nothing you can do,” said Rask. “You can be fine, but it doesn’t help if you tell them you’re fine and they still pull you out. It’s a tough situation. The rules are the rules. We just have to go by them.”

The situation for position players is far less intrusive. Even if the player is unnecessarily removed from the game, there are plenty of others to take his spot. If a goaltender is forced to leave, the backup is suddenly thrust into the game with little preparation.

“It’s tough. LA went through it…clearly that’s one that you hope they accelerate if the guy recovers quickly,” said Cassidy. “It’s a position where the other guy is coming in so cold – if it happens to one of your players…that’s a tough one. I guess it’s a work in progress.”

Despite the complexities of the rules, Rask expressed his support for the importance the league has placed on preventing and recognizing head injuries.

“I like it. A lot of times you feel fine and you got out there and get a second hit and you take two steps back,” said Rask. “Worst case you could ruin the rest of your life. It’s good that they’re being careful. Even though I felt fine a couple days after, there’s no reason to rush it. You’ve got to think about life outside hockey.”

Injury Notes

  • Kevan Miller (upper-body) practiced for the second consecutive day in a red non-contact jersey and could make a return to the lineup on Thursday against the Sharks.”He’s progressing well. He’s going in a good direction,” said Cassidy. “I’ve been wrong up here a few times with these, but he looks good for Thursday…but it’s day-to-day.”
  • David Krejci (upper-body) missed his second consecutive practice and was set to be re-evaluated on Tuesday afternoon. “He’s day-to-day as well. Getting re-evaluated today…a little more discomfort, so we’ll have a better idea on him tomorrow,” said Cassidy. “But obviously didn’t practice, but a little better measuring stick for Thursday.”

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Goaltender Malcolm Subban was claimed off waivers by the Vegas Golden Knights, Boston Bruins general manager Don Sweeney said Tuesday.

The Bruins waited until Monday to waive the 23-year-old, with most teams already set in goal, hoping to sneak him to their Providence affiliate, but the former first-round pick was claimed by Golden Knights general manager George McPhee.

“I had my fingers crossed that it wasn’t gonna happen,” Sweeney said, according to the Boston Herald. “But that’s part of the business, and we wish Malcolm obviously success in the opportunity that he’s going to get. But it’s a loss for us.”

Subban, whose older brother P.K. Subban is an All-Star defenseman with Nashville, was 2-0-0 with a .889 save percentage in 133 minutes of action in the preseason.

The Golden Knights’ starter in goal is 33-year-old Marc-Andre Fleury, but they also have 25-year-old Calvin Pickard on the roster. Pickard appeared in 50 games for the NHL-worst Colorado Avalanche last season and led the league in losses with 31. He had a .904 save percentage.

The Bruins are going with Anton Khudobin as the backup to Tuukka Rask in goal.

Subban was taken by the Bruins in 2012 with the 24th overall pick. He spent most of his time in the minors, with an 0-2-0 NHL record, and a 56-45-14 record and .918 save percentage in 127 career AHL games for the Providence Bruins.