Not hitting the panic button on Tuukka Rask...yet
It’s been a less than ideal start to the season for Tuukka Rask. He was pulled in the second period of the Bruins season opening loss to the Washington Capitals after allowing five goals on 19 shots. Rask followed up the loss with wins against the Senators and Red Wings where he allowed three and two goals respectively, Despite the wins, Rask was, well, meh, in the victories.
With the Bruins kicking off a four-game road trip through Canada with a stop in Calgary Wednesday night, it was another disappointing performance from Rask. His shaky first period put the Bruins in an early hole, allowing three—including two in 48 seconds—first period goals.
The first strike came just over five minutes into the game. An errant pass by David Pastrnak sent the Flames in transition. A beauty of a pass by Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk to Mikael Backlund forced Rask to jump out of position and take on Backlund. Making the smart play, Backlund dished the puck to Michael Frolik who had nothing but an empty net in his sights. The only attempt Rask could make at a stop was a toss of his stick from post to post in hopes of batting the puck out of midair.
10 minutes later, Rask couldn’t control a loose puck after a weak Noah Hanifan wrist shot. Before he could readjust and get himself back into position, the puck was behind him for a 2-0 Flames lead.
But the ugliest goal of the night came just 48 seconds later. Defenseman Juuso Valimaki scored his first NHL goal when he lobbed the puck in Rask’s direction. Screened a bit on the play, Rask’s attempt at an easy glove save failed, as the puck bounced off his glove and into the net.
Frolik would strike again, and Tkachuk would seal the deal with an empty-netter, ending a miserable night for the Bruins. Sure, there were breakdowns in front of him that led to the goals, but Rask’s first period made it difficult for the Bruins to pick up any momentum and get themselves back into the game.
Patrice Bergeron’s early tally in the second period cut the Flames lead to two, but that was as close as the Bruins got to making it a game.
I’m not ready to hit the panic button on Rask just yet, but his slow start is a bit worrisome. For what it’s worth, Rask allowed 10 goals in his first three games last season.
For some reason, people in this city love to bash Rask every time a puck gets past him. Sure, sometimes it’s deserved. But I still don’t see why so much hate is thrown towards Rask.
I do believe at one time Rask was one of the game’s best goalies. Those days have past us, and I view Rask as a slightly above-average goalie.
Jaroslav Halak will get the nod Thursday night in Edmonton, looking to build off of his hot start to his tenure as a Bruin. With Rask struggling and Halak providing the Bruins with some stability between the pipes, Halak can force the Bruins to deviate from their goalie rotation plans and earn himself some more playing time with another impressive performance in Edmonton. Halak stealing some starts away from Rask may not be a bad thing, however.
Last season when Rask was battling through some inconsistent play and some minor injuries, backup goalie Anton Khudobin came in and had a nice run in net, helping the Bruins gain some separation in the Atlantic division standings.
When Rask finally got things going, he found his game and went on his best run of the season, carrying his play into the playoffs where he was solid yet again.
I don’t think it’s time to officially hand the keys to the car over to Halak, but depending on how these next three games go, Halak may be driving the Bruins bus when they return to America next week.