BOSTON — Tuukka Rask has been simply sensational for the Bruins in this run to the Cup Final, looked like a mere mortal on the way to giving up six goals in Boston’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks. The six-goal letdown comes on the heels of a seven-game stretch prior to Game 4 in which Rask allowed six goals total.
There was no way Rask could sustain his potentially legendary pace for the entire playoffs, but with a chance to go up 3-1 in the series, Wednesday’s showing probably hurts just a little bit more.
“Every game is different,” Rask said. “Some nights you feel more comfortable than other nights. Today they had a lot of, we had a lot of breakdowns, they had 2-on-1s, breakaways. … It’s just a battle out there. Some days you feel better than the others.”
There’s going to be no concern around the Boston dressing room following Game 4, a loss that had just as much to do with the Bruins’ breakdowns and subpar play as it did Rask’s play. But in the process, Rask’s shutout streak of 129:14 was snapped, as was his home shutout streak of 193:16. Rask also saw his goals against average jump from 1.64 to 1.83 (he still leads the league), which probably says just as much about the way Rask has played all postseason more than anything else.
“They got a lot of shots through and a lot of second opportunities,” Rask said. “You let in six goals as a goalie you can’t be satisfied, but as a team, I thought that wasn’t our best game, either.”
Bruins coach Claude Julien wouldn’t directly critique his goalie, instead opting to lump Rask in with everyone else.
“I don’t evaluate the players publicly here,” Julien said. “I look at our whole team and tell you our whole team was average tonight. You can take what you want from that.
“I think we can be better. We have an opportunity to be better next game. Hopefully, if anything, that makes us even hungrier for the next game.”
Julien’s right, too, at least in that it wasn’t all Rask’s fault, not by a long shot. While Rask’s rebound control was not optimal, the players in front of him didn’t do much to help him out. The B’s were sloppy in terms of rebound control, and that didn’t help one bit. Even on the game’s final goal in overtime, the Bruins weren’t able to clear the puck before Brent Seabrook blasted the game-winner by Rask’s blocker side.
“I don’t think anybody expected that before the game,” Rask added. “They’re a good offensive team. When you give them goals and they get the lead, you obviously have to start opening up too and creating some offense. That’s what happened.”
The rest of the Bruins — Rask excluded — also know how well their goalie has been playing. Maybe, just maybe, that is taken for granted somewhere along the line, but the B’s were also quick to take away the blame from their goalie.
“Well, I don’t think we helped Tuukka out tonight,” forward Rich Peverley said. “Some breakdowns, but they made the plays and I think it’s not Tuukka’s fault.”
“They were doing a good job of getting some traffic, but also pouncing on the rebounds and on the loose pucks,” Bruins center Patrice Bergeron said. “We got to do a better job at boxing out, but also winning the one-on-one battles.”
Hopefully, for the Bruins’ sake, this serves as a wake-up call. After Rask has been so incredible for the last few weeks, he wasn’t able to make up the difference for any shortcomings in front of him. There’s a good chance he bounces back and bails the Bruins out again at some point in this series, but the Bruins would be wise not to take that for granted.
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