Rask had no problem criticizing his own performance Thursday night after he gave up four goals on 33 shots in the Bruins’ double-overtime loss to the Canadiens in their Eastern Conference semifinal opener. The Boston goaltender holds himself to a high standard and said after the game: “I was (expletive) today. Got to be better.”
That might be a little harsh, especially given what Rask has done this season and in his NHL career, but that’s just Tuukka being Tuukka, according to his coach and Bruins teammates.
“It’s emotions, too, right?” Bruins coach Claude Julien said at Friday’s practice. “It’s emotions, and he expects a lot out of himself. He’s in a better place today. He had a good night’s sleep. We all know how he is. He’ll bounce back.”
Rask has shown the ability to rebound: He’s 5-3 with a .939 save percentage in playoff games that follow a loss over the last two years. That includes stopping 34 of 35 shots he saw in the Bruins’ Game 2 win over the Detroit Red Wings in the first round after Boston lost the series opener.
With that in mind, the Bruins know they won’t need to give Rask an extra pat on the behind or offer any other encouragement heading into Game 2. They trust he’ll be ready to go.
“Tuukka is very hard on himself,” Bruins winger Brad Marchand said after practice. “He competes very hard. He expects to be the best every night. He played well last night. He made a lot of really, really big saves. I think you’ve just got to let him do what he does and let him prepare for the next game.”
Plus, there’s no one else the Bruins would rather have in net than Rask.
“He’s playing strong. He’s been strong for us all year,” Bruins captain Zdeno Chara said. “That’s why he’s the best goalie in the NHL.”