The 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs undoubtedly look and sound different, and they’re happening in August, so it’s probably not entirely surprising at least one player doesn’t feel like it’s postseason hockey.
Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask apparently is struggling to feel like he’s playing for the Stanley Cup. After his team lost 3-2 to the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday night in Game 2 of their first-round series, Rask was rather blunt about his mindset regarding these playoff games.
“To be honest with you, it doesn?t really feel like playoff hockey because there, there?s no fans,” Rask told reporters after the game. “It?s kind of like you?re playing an exhibition game. Obviously, there are some scrums after the whistle. I haven?t noticed that they would be targeting me or whatnot. Things happen, people falling on you and whatnot. But it?s definitely not a playoff atmosphere.”
Obviously, it’s an attention-grabbing quote for the No. 1 goalie on the Stanley Cup favorite to say playoff games feel like exhibitions. But it also sounds like Rask is saying other players feel the same, pointing to the lack of “targeting” directed at him in his crease.
Rask eventually expanded on his thoughts.
“You?re trying to play as hard as you can,” he said. “Obviously, you?re playing a best-of-even series so there’s going to be some battles going on and whatnot. But when you play at your home rink, you play at an away rink, and there?s fans cheering for you or against you and that creates another buzz around the series. There?s none of that, so it just feels dull at times. There?re moments that, — OK, there?s little scrums and whatnot. But then there might be five minutes and its just coast to coast hockey and there is no atmosphere. It just feels like an exhibition game.”
The goalie also was asked about his conditioning, an inquiry he met with another honest response.
“Considering I had four months off, not in prime shape, but trying to get there,” he said. “I?m just trying to have fun and play the game. I?m not expecting too much about results and whatnot. It?s August and I haven?t played hockey in forever. Just go out there and have fun and see what happens.”
Rask certainly hasn’t looked like the dominant goalie he was for much of Boston’s march to the Stanley Cup Final last spring. The Vezina Trophy finalist has allowed three goals in each of the first two games against Carolina and has an .889 save percentage in those contests.