BOSTON – The Boston Bruins were originally scheduled to end the regular season on Saturday night in Washington, D.C., but that all changed when the horrific events took place on Apr. 15 in Boston, Mass. The Bruins were set to square off against the Ottawa Senators on Marathon Monday, but with the emotions, security risks, and city in fear, they were forced to postponed the game until Apr. 28 and close the regular season off at home.
With only one game remaining in the regular season and having already clinch a playoff playoff spot, most teams elect to send out their backup goaltender and give their starter a rest before heading in to postseason. However, Claude Julien choose to start Tuukka Rask and sit Anton Khudobin.
No one can blame Julien for starting one of the league’s best goaltenders, but after the team took a 4-2 loss to the Senators on Sunday, the decision could end up being a mistake come the beginning of their Stanley Cup Playoff run.
Rask entered Sunday night’s game with a 19-9-5 record, 1.97 goals against average and a .930 save percentage, some of the best statistics in the NHL. In any other situation, there would be no question a team would start a caliber goaltender like Rask. However, the Bruins could’ve gone with either of their net-minders and been confident in them.
Against the Senators this season, Rask was 2-0-0 with a 1.40 GAA and .952 save percentage. On the other hand, Khudobin was 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .960 save percentage. Both goaltenders were capable of taking the duty between the pipes against the Senators.
Heading into Sunday night’s tilt, the Bruins needed a win to clinch the Northeast Division and lock up the No. 2 seed heading into the playoffs next week. Taking a loss against the Senators slides the Bruins the No. 4 seed. “It’s disappointing, but we still make the playoffs,” said Rask. “We have first round home ice, so I don’t think its the end of the world.”
Rask should be able to shake off the loss and possibly can use it to fuel the team heading into the playoffs. The Bruins have other things they also need to focus on, as Rask and Khudobin’s statistic are proof they need to score more goals as well. “We’ve been struggling to score goals lately, so the hunger should be there” said Rask. “The regular season is over and you have to move forward [the playoffs] are a new season”
The Bruins were able to tally two goals in a twenty second span, but it wasn’t enough to take the pressure off their net-minder. With the Bruins not putting the puck in the net and solely relying on Rask, they won’t go far in the postseason.
The playoffs start this week and the Bruins have a different look between the pipes then during their Stanley Cup winning season in 2010-11. “It’s been been a couple years since I last played in the playoffs,” said Rask. “I’m looking forward to it.” Heading into the playoffs Rask is feeing, “awesome.”
Only time will tell if the decision to start Rask and not give him rest will effect him next week, but the goaltender is ready.