The Bruins are going to have to make some significant changes going into the second game of the home and home series with the Detroit Red Wings this coming Sunday.
While it would be easy to blame Tuukka Rask for Friday’s 6-1 loss at home to Detroit, the bigger issue for the Bruins is their mental toughness. The Bruins followed a 5-3 win against the Dallas Stars with a 2-0 loss to the San Jose Sharks. In almost identical fashion the Bruins followed up their 8-6 win over divisional rival Montreal with yesterday’s lifeless display against the Red Wings.
If the Bruins are going to have any chance of beating the very same Red Wings squad, the Bruins have to find a way to stabilize their game.
“Well, yeah, I mean it is something that we are looking for, more consistency,” Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara said. “Following up big wins and emotional games like we had. I don’t know, it’s just one of those nights that we didn’t have it.”
There is no doubt that contributing to this lack of constancy has been Rask’s goaltending. Rask, who showed so much promise in 2009, has a record of 4-11-1. Friday’s game was a microcosm of his season so far.
Rask failed to stop the first two shots the Red Wings took and allowed goals at nearly identical times, at 1:10 and 1:09, to start the first and second periods. Not even David Krejci’s goal at the end of the first period was enough to infuse life into the comatose Bruins. The coup de grace was Todd Bertuzzi’s second goal of the game.
“Yeah, I stopped it backhand and then I missed the puck pretty much,” Rask said. “And then I didn’t want him to get the goal from behind the net but then he just shot it at my skate … off my skate, off my head and in and that’s it.”
Just 3:22 later Rask was taken out of the game and replaced by Tim Thomas. In making his decision to pull Rask, Claude Julien acknowledged that Rask had made some quality saves but he just wasn’t as sharp as he needed to be on that night. Rask didn’t disagree with Julien’s decision.
“I’m not going to start analyzing that. I thought I deserved to get pulled. I didn’t play to my level today,” Rask said, who also accepted that it wasn’t his lack of playing time that was translating to his inconsistent performances on the ice.
In addition to Rask’s maturity in dealing with this adversity, it is encouraging that both Rask’s coaches and teammates have the young goalies back. It is this team strength that will be integral to the Bruins getting back on track.
Yesterday’s game marked the second straight game the Bruins have allowed six goals. The 6-1 result was the first time this season the Bruins lost by more than three goals. As tough as a season as Rask has had, he is still vital to Boston’s success moving forward.
The Bruins should be confident heading into Joe Louis Arena in Detroit Sunday. Boston hasn’t lost the second game of any of their previous three home and home series this year. Friday’s result will be recent enough to motivate the Bruins but will allow for adequate time to make adjustments.
“You don’t like to sit around too much,” said forward Mark Recchi. “Sunday at 12:30 we have to be ready and be a lot different team. Show them what the Boston Bruins are really made of and make a good game of it.”