After allowing six goals on Sunday night in the Bruins’ final game before their “bye week”, did we just see the return of the real Tuukka Rask?
Yes, I know, it was just one game against a team with a potent offense. It was also the second night of a rough back-to-back stretch that saw Boston play at home on Saturday evening only to travel to the defending Stanley Cup champions 24 hours later.
And I also know that Rask has been sensational in the month prior to Sunday night. Rask was awarded First Star of the Month after going 9-0-1 in December, and has not lost in regulation since November 26th. Rask had allowed six goals total in his last six starts, and did not have a rough outing since mid-November. He was due for a stinker.
However, everything was set up for the Bruins to take another huge step towards being a legit contender on Sunday night. They had already defeated the Pens earlier this season, the blowout win on Saturday allowed the B’s to reduce ice time for several of their top scorers, and their primary goalie was rested and ready to go for a huge matchup.
And like he has in the past, Tuukka Rask just didn’t step up when the Bruins needed it.
Many Bruins fans had been using Rask’s last month to tell the haters (like myself) that we should’ve never doubted him and never questioned his place as the starting goalie. We even had the glorious “Fuppets” from Felger and Mazz dedicating their skit to the Tuukka Rask debate:
— Felger & Massarotti (@FelgerAndMazz) January 5, 2018
And then… poof. Six goals allowed. That cannot happen.
You can’t score five goals in two periods against the defending champs and lose. At any point in the season. It doesn’t matter how they are playing, when the last time you played was, or how many goal scorers they have. That shit cannot happen.
And I don’t care that Tuukka took blame for the loss after the game, because a) it was his fault so I would expect him to man up and take the fall and b) that’s his customary response. You never get an emotional reply from Rask. It’s always ho hum I didn’t play well gosh golly I’ll try harder next time it’s okay.
It’s not okay Tuukka. Sunday night was a big game. It was nationally televised after the NFL Playoffs ended (great NFC game on Sunday by the way), and a win would have propelled the Bruins into the off week with tons of momentum. Boston would have inched two points ahead of the Maple Leafs for second in the Atlantic Division with multiple games in hand.
There would have been zero questions surrounding this team, except can they play this well after taking six days off? Now there’s another question that seems to never go away:
Can Tuukka Rask step up when the Bruins need him?
Like the Fuppets said, do it when it counts Tuukka. Pitching a shutout against a putrid Ottawa team isn’t that impressive, especially when you lay a complete egg with four days off and when your offense scored five goals. Beat Washington or Montreal or Pittsburgh, and then maybe we’ll stop wondering why you disappear when it matters. Oh and maybe actually show up on the last game of the regular season when your team needs points to make the playoffs instead of being “too sick” to play. Yeah I’m not forgetting that one.
The Boston Bruins are on a tear as they enter the bye week, and Tuukka Rask’s play of late has been a huge part of it. Rask can lead this surprising team to the playoffs and beyond, but the biggest surprise may be him actually leading the brigade.
I hope I’m wrong, and I hope Sunday night was just a blip and an anomaly. But there’s a big part of me that doesn’t think that’s going to be the case.
Written by: Adam Belue (@albinomamba44)
I was born and raised in Fall River, MA and I currently write Bruins and tennis blogs for Couch Guy Sports, cover baseball and hockey for CLNS Media, have an internship writing with the New Bedford Bay Sox of the New England Collegiate Baseball League (NECBL), and work in retail. My two loves are the Green Bay Packers and the Bruins.. along with sleeping, napping, watching terrible reality shows, and figuring out new ways to lose at fantasy football.