The last time net-minder Tuukka Rask suited up to face the Philadelphia Flyers it was during the final game of the historic collapse of the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs where the Boston Bruins lost four games straight after winning the first three to Philly in the series.
Nearly two seasons and a Stanley Cup Championship later, Rask still hadn’t faced the Flyers prior to Saturday’s matinee game. This long stretch of not playing the black and orange was partly due to how well Vezina winner Tim Thomas played against Philly. However, Rask seemed to shrug off the idea of wanting to get in net for redemption against the Flyers during his time on the bench in the previous two seasons.
“Not really,” said Rask. “I mean, I won three games in that playoff series too. Too bad I just lost the last four but I mean as I said, its hockey, things happen in hockey and that year it was Philly and it happens.”
In the 2010 playoffs Rask and the rest of the Bruins were one game away from shutting out the Flyers but ended up losing the next four games in a row, including letting in a powerplay goal on a Too Many Men penalty after being ahead 3-0 in the second period
Saturday’s game also saw the Bruins at a 3-0 lead going in the third period, and again there was another Too Many Men penalty called; but the Bruins who have the best penalty kill in the league kept the Flyers off the board. Saturday’s game again showed that not only are these two very different teams, but how much Rask has truly matured as a goalie since 2010.
“No,” said Rask when asked if the 2010 playoff motivation was any motivation for him. “I mean it’s in the past and as I’ve said before we won the whole thing the year after. Things happen in hockey and for a goalie if you start thinking that certain match-ups are better for you than the others then you’re lost half the battle so it was just a game like any other.”
Whatever the case, Rask certainly stepped up against a struggling Flyers team, earning himself the first star of the game, stopping each of the 23 shots he faced for his 13th career shutout. The Flyers had problems in the game offensively, getting only 12 shots in the first two periods and then fighting back a bit harder in the third with 11 shots. For Rask that meant
“Yeah, it’s never easy but whenever you don’t see that much [shots] it’s kind of mentally tougher to stay sharp,” said Rask, “but when they got those shots, I felt pretty comfortable since they weren’t like riding slot or anything like that so it wasn’t too bad but it always helps to find your rhythm early and get in the game early.”
The Bruins will continue their busy stretch of games on the road starting Monday against the Senators. They are now reaching the midway point of the regular season, with Rask having started the majority of their games thus far and Anton Khudobin starting the rest of the games.
In the backup role, Khudobin has done very well for the Bruins, he has played in five games with a 4-1-0 record including winning his last two starts against The Tampa Bay Lightning and the Toronto Maple Leafs, giving Rask a break between starts.
“I feel good,” said Rask. “Taking the last game off, it was good to get a little rest but still I felt good throughout these games and it’s going to get busier and busier so I think it’s really good to keep both goalies going.”