Is Tuukka Rask on a revenge tour against all who claimed he ‘quit’ on the Boston Bruins when, during the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he left the Toronto NHL bubble to be with his daughter who had been rushed to the hospital?
The Boston Bruins (1-1-1, 3 pts) will play on TD Garden ice for the first time Thursday night against the Philadelphia Flyers (3-1-0, 6 pts) looking for their first even-strength goal of the 2021 season. Surprisingly many of the Tuukka Rask critics haven’t jumped on Rask yet and seemingly realized an NHL team needs big saves from their goalie but they also need to score goals to win. The Bruins have yet to score an even-strength goal through three games and that, not Rask, is the reason the Bruins are three points back of the Flyers as they host them in their home opener.
The 2014 Vezina trophy winner and 2020 finalist is 1-1-0 with a 1.46 GAA and .923 save percentage. Boston Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk thinks Rask is out to silence his critics and dialed in again, and maybe even this season.
“He’s been extremely focused,” Grzelcyk said Wednesday of the winningest goalie, (253-145-56) in Boston Bruins franchise history. “He just comes and kind of has the same attitude at the rink. He’s so dialed in, especially this year I think he wants to prove people wrong. I’m sure he’s aware of maybe things being said about him but he’s gotten off to a great start and we just wanna make sure that we’re giving him some more run support and getting him some more wins here.”
Through their first three games of this COVID-shortened 56-game season, the Bruins have two goals on the powerplay and one shorthanded goal. They lit the lamp three times in regulation in a 3-2 shootout win over and 2-1 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. They then got shutout 1-0 by the New York Islanders to conclude their season-opening road trip. Rask got the shootout winner in the season opener, stopping all three Devils shooters and 20 of 22 shots from the Devils in regulation and overtime. He stopped 16 of 17 shots against the Islanders on Monday with the lone goal getting tipped twice on the way into the net.
As Grzelcyk pointed out after practice Wednesday, the onus is on him and the rest of his teammates to pick up the scoring slack and create better chances.
“Obviously ‘Tuukks’ has been playing great and we haven’t been there to give him much support the other way,” Grzelcyk acknowledged. “So that’s where we’re focused on, especially as defensemen, getting the puck moving north. Then from the blue lines in, making sure that forwards are doing a good job of getting the pucks in good positions and we just gotta find a way to get more pucks to the front of the net like Charlie [Coyle] said: ‘Gotta find a way to get a greasy one’. So I think it’s a little bit on us to not only initiate the play but make sure we’re getting pucks through from the point and play a little bit more offense the other way.”