Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask gave a blunt assessment of the atmosphere through two playoff games for him and his teammates in the NHL Eastern Conference bubble in Toronto. After allowing three goals on 26 shots in a 3-2 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 2, Rask told reporters in a postgame Zoom call, that even though the Bruins and the eleven other teams are playing for the Stanley Cup now, it still feels the same way it did in the round-robin.
“Well to be honest with you, it doesn’t really feel like playoff hockey out there,” Rask said. “There’s no fans, so it’s [like] an exhibition game. … It’s definitely not a playoff atmosphere out there.”
What might prove to be damning to Rask though was not expressing his honest opinion of what is supposed to be the best time of the season for the NHL but rather his current state of mind in these rather bizarre times. Rask was solid in Game 1 as he made 25 stops in a 4-3 double overtime win but in Game 2 he appeared to have trouble tracking some shots and made some erroneous breakout passes around the boards that led to turnovers.
“Considering I had four months off … I’m not in prime shape. But I’m trying to get there,” Rask said when asked if maybe he isn’t where he needs to be physically. “I’m just trying to have fun and play the game. I’m not stressing too much about the results and whatnot. You know, it’s August and I haven’t played hockey. So just go out there and have fun, and see what happens for me.”
Here are Tuukka Rask's full comments on the atmosphere up in Toronto: pic.twitter.com/5qQU4BDA3N
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) August 14, 2020
Rask said that he’s trying to overcome the mental side of the game and get into it but didn’t seem to think that would be possible.
“You try to play as hard as you can,” Rask said. “Obviously, you know, you’re playing a best-of-seven series so there’s gonna be some battles going on and whatnot. But when you play in your home rink, and you play in an away rink, there’s fans cheering for you and against you and that creates another buzz around the series. So there’s none of that. So it just feels, like, dull at times.
There’s moments that, OK, there’s little scrums and whatnot. …There’s no atmosphere. So it feels like an exhibition game. But, you know, we’re trying our best to kind of ramp up and get energized and make it feel like a playoff game.”