- Joe McDonald, Reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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It’s quite different actually.
Of course with the possibility of the Bruins losing their Eastern Conference quarterfinal series to the Toronto Maple Leafs after having a 3-1 lead, fans will compare it to what happened to the team in 2010 and blame Rask, which would be totally unfair.
In 2010, the Bruins had a 3-0 series lead in the conference semifinals against the Philadelphia Flyers. With Rask as Boston’s starting goaltender, the Bruins lost four straight in one of the most epic collapses in hockey history. At the time, the team hoped its goalie could steal one win in order to close out that series and avoid the implosion, but it didn’t happen.
The following season, with Tim Thomas in net, the Bruins won the Stanley Cup and proved what great goaltending can do for a team in the Stanley Cup playoffs. But this isn’t 2010. And Rask is a more mature and better goalie this time around.
What has happened so far against the Maple Leafs is not his fault, and when asked about comparing this postseason to the one three years ago, Rask would rather focus on the here and now.
“You know, I don’t even want to talk about that,” Rask said. “This is the playoffs and we’re focused on this. We haven’t played good enough to close the series and tomorrow’s the final chance.”
In the first six games, Rask has made 19, 30, 45, 45, 32 and 25 saves.
“He’s doing a great job for us and we’ve got to do a good job in front of him,” Bruins assistant captain Patrice Bergeron said. “It’s about finding a way as a team.”
In the last two games, the Bruins have lacked offensive production. It hasn’t been Rask’s fault.
“You would like them to score five goals every game, but it’s just not going to happen,” Rask said. “I’m just trying to keep the puck out of my net and hopefully we get the goals.”
In Game 6 Sunday, Rask kept the Maple Leafs off the scoreboard for the first two periods until Toronto’s Dion Phaneuf scored at 1:48 of the third period.
“I think I stopped everything I saw,” Rask said.
On Toronto’s second goal, a Phil Kessel tally at 8:59 of the period, the Maple Leafs sniper was left all alone as Bruins forward Tyler Seguin stood flat-footed after Rask made the initial save and kicked out the rebound.
“I don’t know where Kessel came from, I didn’t see him,” Rask said. “It looked like he had a lot of speed. He toe-dragged it and stuffed it in, so I had no idea he was there. I was just ready for the rebound and somebody would whack it, but it didn’t happen.”
If Rask’s teammates don’t help him in Game 7, and the Bruins lose, it won’t be Rask’s fault.
9dJoe McDonald and Kyle Brasseur
45dKyle Brasseur, Special to ESPNBoston.com