Tuukka Rask up to the task once again
March, 1, 2013
By James Murphy | ESPNBoston.com
BOSTON -- As he has throughout this five-game win streak, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask stood on his head to pick his team up on a night when they definitely weren't on their game and appeared to suffer from fatigue. Rask made 30 big saves in a 2-1 Bruins overtime win that definitely could've gone the other way. Rask stopped some breakaways, and he turned away point-blank chances in overtime. More and more, he appears to be settling into a zone.
Brian Babineau/Getty ImagesTuukka Rask improved to 11-1-2 with Thursday's overtime win.
"That's what we've tried to do, get him in the groove again with the games spread out," head coach Claude Julien said. "He's feeling good, so there was no hesitation putting him in tonight. He did a great job again. There were some point-blank shots there from the slot area that on a lot of occasions you probably would have seen a goal, but he stood tall, he challenged well and made those timely saves."
With Rask spending time on the bench as a backup to two-time Vezina Trophy winner Tim Thomas for the better part of the past four seasons, many wondered if the Finnish netminder could jump into the No. 1 goalie job and handle the workload. But he's silencing the doubters and reaffirming the faith his teammates had in him all along.
"He's playing great," defenseman Andrew Ference said of his goalie, who is now 11-1-2 with a 1.82 goals-against average and .933 save percentage. "I don't think he's really surprising anybody. He's been solid for us for a number of years and just kind of waiting patiently. I know everybody wanted the best for him, so it's just really nice to see him doing what I think everybody hoped and expected he would do, but he's living up to expectations, which is not easy to do, especially in that position."
While Rask is technically sound and usually well-positioned, he can still react, as his predecessor Thomas did so many times, with an acrobatic save. That's why the Bruins have the confidence that if they get caught out of position or there is a scramble in front, Rask will be there for the save.
"He's so quick, he's been doing that all year, every game," said winger Nathan Horton, who helped Rask out by scoring the first Bruins goal.
The workload will get heavier this weekend with the Bruins hosting Tampa Bay on Saturday afternoon and then the first-place Canadiens on Sunday night. But Rask is showing he's up to the task and ready for anything.