BOSTON — Tuukka Rask knows the drill.
The Bruins goaltender has been around long enough to know that Boston fans will call him out for his shortcomings and that there will be plenty of negative chatter after an up-and-down 2018 postseason that ended Sunday at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
So, what equips Rask to handle the heat? A nice dose of perspective and an understanding of where he plays, for starters.
“That’s the passion (in Boston). Every sport,” Rask told reporters Wednesday at Warrior Ice Arena during the Bruins’ breakup day. “I’m a fan of sports, too. When I watch sports, I criticize players if I see they suck. So, it’s no different. It’s part of the job.”
Rask had a solid regular-season campaign but struggled to find consistency in the Stanley Cup playoffs. He allowed four goals in four separate postseason games — twice against the Maple Leafs in the first round and twice against the Lightning in the second round — and was pulled for Anton Khudobin in Game 5 of the Toronto series. His .903 save percentage and 2.88 goals against average were the worst of any of his five postseason appearances.
The 31-year-old veteran, who often is his own harshest critic, is fine with fans calling him out for his struggles — even if their condemnations never make it to him.
“I don’t really know what’s being said and what’s not because I don’t follow it,” Rask admitted. “It’s probably better off that way. But it doesn’t bother me. People can say whatever they feel like and whatever they want. They’re fans, so it won’t affect my job.”
Despite the sting of an early playoff exit, Rask still took a positive view of a unique season that saw him play just 54 games — his lightest workload since the 2011-12 season — while splitting time with Khudobin.
“I felt great the whole season,” Rask said. “It was a great luxury we had this year. I split playing time with (Khudobin), and he had a great year. I felt good. It’s probably the best I’ve felt in a long time.”
Thumbnail photo via Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports Images
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