By Matthew Cunha
The Boston Bruins goalie situation is all but sealed after the Bruins 3-2 victory over the Eastern Conference leading Tampa Bay Lightning last night. Rask stopped just 19 shots in the game, but made the stops he needed to make. This confidence building win was Rask’s first since November 6th.
I was outraged with Bruce Cassidy’s decision to start Rask Wednesday morning. Anton Khudobin’s 7-0-2 record deserved to get the nod over Rask’s 3-8-2 record in a game versus the league’s best. Especially after the Bruin’s 5 game win streak (all games started by Khudobin) was snapped by Sundays lackluster performance vs the Oilers with Tuukka in net. As it turns out, Coach Bruce Cassidy made the right decision
The Bruins dominated the first half of the game en route to their 3-2 win. After building a 3-0 lead in the middle of the second period, Tuukka was the answer to the surge by the talented Lightning. Rask was not spectacular but made the saves he needed to make towards the end of the second and during the third. The first goal given up by Rask on a shot from the point by Andrej Sustr was soft. Rask lost a puck that never got redirected.
My head turned a little bit at this point. If the Bruins were to blow a 3-0 lead and lose this game, the goalie controversy would escalate. All this hype would become real and the Bruins season could zoom in another direction. Playoffs would not be included.
It would have been easy for Rask to lose his composure after a power play goal by the Lightning made it a 1 goal game with over 17 minutes left in the third period. But, Rask hung on to close out the game making the necessary stops in typical Rask fashion. Nothing fancy, just great positioning and technical ability from the unflashy goalie.
Zero questions remain about who is the number one goalie for the Bruins after last night. Cassidy made it clear after announcing Rask the starter versus the best team the B’s have faced all year. Rask’s performance backed up the coach’s decision and solidified his spot if it even needed solidifying. There’s nothing left to discuss.
At the end of November, the Bruins are in playoff position courtesy of being in third place in the Atlantic Division with 26 points. The Red Wings and Canadiens, who trail the Bruins by 1 point, have played 3 and 2 more games than the Bruins. Despite the barrage of injuries and the 4-8-2 record by Rask, the Bruins somehow find themselves in a good position.
When we look back at this “controversy” in April, it could be one of those season changing moments. At the beginning of the season, one of the needs of the Bruins was to get solid backup play from Khudobin to relax Tuukka for the playoffs. After his 5 game winning streak you have to have a lot of confidence he will provide that. The even better news is that this situation could and may have already put a fire under the Bruins NUMBER ONE goaltender. Could Wednesday’s performance from Rask and company be a sign of things to come? Let’s hope so.
Matthew Cunha is a producer of The Drive, weekdays 4pm to 6pm on 92.9fm The Ticket and streaming live at DriveShowMaine.com. Follow us on Twitter, @DriveShowMaine and “Like Us” on Facebook, Drive Show Maine.