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Tuukka Rask Is ‘Not Where He Needs To Be’ For Bruins

CBS Boston
CBS Boston
 2022-01-25

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By Michael Hurley , CBS Boston

BOSTON (CBS) — It’s early in the Tuukka Rask 2.0 Era for the Boston Bruins, but the results have been discouraging thus far.

Rask fell to 2-2 in his four starts since rejoining the Bruins this month with a 5-3 loss to the Ducks on Monday night. Rask allowed five goals on just 27 shots faced, sinking Boston’s chances in what ended up as just the Bruins’ third loss of the month.

Never one to shy away from a bad performance, Rask spoke with the media after the game and matter-of-factly explained his level of play.

“Obviously,” Rask said, “I haven’t been good enough.”

Monday’s performance dropped his save percentage to a grisly .844, with his goals-against average climbing to 4.29. He’s allowed five goals in two of his starts — one of which lasted just one period, as he gave up five goals on 12 shots in a blowout loss to Carolina — and two goals apiece in his other two starts.

Linus Ullmark hasn’t been much better than Rask, posting an .882 save percentage in three appearances since Rask returned to the ice. Jeremy Swayman, who got bumped down to Providence to make room for Rask, is 2-1-0 with a .920 save percentage and 2.02 GAA in three AHL starts.

Rask was of course unable to get his AHL warmup action in due to COVID cancellations, and the Bruins surely expected some rust in the short term. Still, Rask’s performances thus far have likely fallen short of even those tempered expectations.

“Well he’s not where he needs to be. I mean, that’s evident,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said. “We weren’t sure he would be this early, either. I think you need seven or eight probably starts. … Certainly needed a few more saves if we were gonna win tonight, but again, he’ll need more starts and then we have to evaluate it.”

Any goaltender will obviously allow pucks to get past him, but the Ducks’ second goal — which came off a shorthanded net drive that didn’t even generate a real shot on net — certainly stood out as one that neither Rask nor the Bruins can accept.

On that goal, which put the Bruins behind 2-0, Rask said he let his stick get out of position.

“Just a terrible goal,” Rask said.

As for specific areas where Rask knows he needs to improve, he said his depth in the crease has been off and that his puck tracking is “not as sharp as it should be.” He said the schedule doesn’t provide too much opportunity to simulate game situations in practice, and he also said he understands that the team doesn’t “have the luxury of throwing games away” while he gets up to speed.

But the veteran of 668 NHL games expressed confidence that he’ll get where he needs to be.

“It’s gonna come. I gotta work on it,” Rask said. “The only way you can do it is by playing. … I need to be sharp every time I go out there, and that’s my job to find it. It’s not easy. I’ve just gotta work on it, and game in, game out, find that consistency. I’m trying to help the team get some wins.”

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