Tuukka Rask never has been in this position before in his impressive 2013 Stanley Cup playoff run.
The Boston Bruins goalkeeper hasn't surrendered more than four goals in any game this spring. So it will be interesting to see how he rebounds after he yielded six goals on 47 shots in his team's 6-5 overtime loss
to the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday to knot up the Stanley Cup final
at two games apiece.
In the previous four games that Rask had given up four goals in a game, he always bounced back with a standout game, and that's his plan for Game 5 at the United Center on Saturday (CBC, CBCSports.ca
, 7:30 p.m. ET).
"That's the only thing you can do," the 26-year-old Finn said. "It's the finals. It's just one game. You've got to move on. No matter if you let in one goal or six goals, it's a loss. Try to take the positives out of it and move on. It's not that tough."
Rask could not be faulted for the Game 4 loss. He was still pretty good. If there was one area of concern in his so-so outing it was his rebound control. For the first time in a long time, he allowed the opposition to get some second chances.
But his coach Claude Julien refused to blame Rask. Ditto for his teammates. They're confident the young goalie will return to the form he has exhibited for most of this playoff run and has him mentioned among the prime Conn Smythe Trophy contenders.
Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick won the playoff MVP trophy a year ago, and Rask's former teammate Tim Thomas was the Conn Smythe Trophy winner in 2011. Here is a statistical comparison of the trio:
Rask Quick Thomas
- Wins 14 16 16
- Losses 6 4 9
- Shutouts 3 3 4
- Goals-against average 1.83 1.41 1.98
- Save percentage .941 .946 .940
Rask revealed earlier this week that he has kept in touch with Thomas the latter's season of seclusion
. But the current Bruins goalie refused to divulge the nature of their conversations.
The two have different styles in the crease and diverse personalities in the dressing room.
Thomas fits the goalie stereotype of being way out there. He didn't want to be bothered before games and during intermissions. He was extremely short with reporters last season. He was a battler on the ice, an acrobat in the mold of Dominik Hasek.
Rask combines sound technique. His best attribute is he stays square to the puck, but he can be athletic when needed. His teammates and head coach talk to him at any time before the game and during the intermissions. They portray him as regular as can be for a goalie.
"Tuukka's normal, really,'' Julien said in the last round. "I'm not going to get into Timmy. I'm just saying Tuukka is as normal as I've ever seen in a goaltender. Very relaxed, but you've seen the other side of him when things don't go his way, he's got a temper. That, to me, is normal.''
Prior to this season, Rask's heaviest workload was in 2009-10, when Thomas did not play well. Rask went 22-12-5 with a 1.97 goals-against average and a .931 save percentage. He was good in the opening round against the Buffalo Sabres, but appeared to fatigue in the next series against the Philadelphia Flyers, when they rallied from a 3-0 series deficit.
The Bruins asked Rask to improve his conditioning.
Julien also wasn't shy to give backup Anton Khudobin enough regular-season starts to keep Rask fresh for the playoff grind.
Rask has responded. When Blackhawks forward Michal Handzus scored a short-handed goal
in the first period, he snapped a 129-minute, 14-second shutout string for Rask that dated back to Game 2 in the final.
The Handzus goal also ended Rask's home shutout streak at 193:16, which dated back to the second period of Game 3 of the East final. That was a franchise playoff record, set by Gerry Cheevers at 188:51 in 1969, and the third-longest home shutout streak in Stanley Cup playoff history behind Detroit Red Wings' Terry Sawchuk (240:00 in 1952) and Lorne Chabot (195:03 in 1933) of the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Now the hockey world will see how he responds to his so-so outing in Game 4.
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