In the Stanley Cup Final, battles take place on the macro and micro levels. On the Macro level, two teams in the Boston Bruins and St. Louis Blues are in a fight to win the Stanley Cup. The Bruins and Blues have gotten reacquainted with each other after four games in the Stanley Cup Final. Tensions between the two teams have boiled from the macro level over into the micro level. Individual battles have taken place between David Backes and his former teammates but what’s been more interesting has been the battle between Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask and Blues forward David Perron.
Perron has tried to make life miserable for Rask especially after whistle throughout the first four games, but mainly in Game 3. As you can see here in this clip Perron makes contact with Rask and probably should have been called for a penalty there and gets nose to nose with Rask.
If this play happened when Rask was younger and just began in the league, he might have lost his cool, like he did when he played in the AHL for the Providence Bruins. Now a little more wiser at the age of 32 and in his 85th postseason start, Rask just shrugged off Perron’s antics. After Game 3, Rask was asked about the Blue tactics and played it perfectly.
“He was just saying I was diving,” Rask told reporters after Game 3. “I told him I wasn’t.”
When the game was out of hand, Perron continues he antics in the third period as he engaged Rask in a post-whistle scrum in the Bruins net minder’s crease. Perron would grab Rask and throw multiple punches to the side of Rask’s and assessed a minor penalty for roughing. The penalty led to another power play for the Bruins on which they scored on.
“It wasn’t too bad,” told reporters Rask after Game 3. “I think Perron a couple of times, he was in tight there in the scrums. But nothing out of the ordinary.”
Perron was not the only Blues player that tried to get in Rask’s head. Blues goalie Jordan Binnington jumped into the action as during a TV timeout in the second period bumped Rask as he extended his elbow to try to get Rask off his game and spark the Blues into a rally. At that point in the period, the game was already out of reach as the Bruins were up 4-0.
Game 3 is not the only example of how the Blues have tried to get into Rask’s head. In Game 2, the Blues crashed the net on Rask a lot. However, Rask was not phased at all, especially as the Blues were assessed for two goalie interference penalties in Game 2, but Rask had a feeling the Blues would make things uncomfortable for him while he was in his crease.
With Rask in the zone and the favorite to win the Conn Smythe Trophy regardless if the Bruins win the Stanley Cup or not, the ideal strategy is probably not to rattle a goalie who is on his game and not phased by any of that extracurricular activity after the whistle.
Craig Simpson said it best on the Hockey Night in Canada broadcast during Game 3, “Not sure I want to be trying to get in the head of Rask. He’s been calm, he’s been excellent all through these playoffs. And in this game, he has been the difference maker.”
With Game 5 on Thursday expect more of the same kind of strategy from the Blues, but do not expect Rask to engage them in that kind of play. Rask has a job to do and that is to win the Stanley Cup, not get into scrums after the whistle gets blown.