There is a OneIn100 chance that Bruins veteran goalie Tuukka Rask lays another dud in the B’s home opener against the Ottawa Senators Monday at 1 PM ET at TD Garden.
Rask will bounce back from his embarrassing opening night performance in a 7-0 loss to the Washington Capitals last Wednesday because if he doesn’t he will reach David Price status amongst Bruins fans and media.
With Price headed to the Bronx with his tail between his legs after his latest debacle against the Yankees Saturday, Rask will likely be in playoff-like mode himself, trying to put the worst season-opening loss for not only himself but this proud Original 6 franchise, behind him.
The Caps lit the lamp five times on 19 shots before Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy decided it was time for new Bruins goalie Jaroslav Halak to make a rather dubious regular-season debut for his new team. Washington score twice more and even then it felt as if on Twitter, Rask was somehow being blamed for those goals as well.
“Well I don’t want to get embarrassed again when I play, I think that’s what I’m working on,” Rask told the media after practice on Saturday. “So start from there, get out there, get a win, feel good about yourself and build on it. But you know every game’s a new game … and if you play bad, you play good, you still flush it off and focus on the next one, so the mindset doesn’t really change there.”
Flushing out the last game is definitely the approach to take. But for Rask this is about setting the tone and silencing critics before they grow loud like they did last year when when he started the season 8-9-3. Of course Tuukka shut his critics going 28-3-2 the rest of the way as the Bruins finished with the second best record in the Eastern Conference.
This year is different though. This offseason the Bruins signed a proven NHL starter in Halak. Should rask stumble again Monday and/or through this first month of the season Halak is waiting in the wings. Last season, Cassidy did turn to then back-up Anton Khudobin for a small stretch as Rask figured himself out, but within the confines of the dressing room, there was never any doubt that Rask was the starter and this team would only go as far as he carried them.
However, after Rask and the Bruins took Game 1 of the second round in Tampa, The B’s dropped 4 straight. Right or wrong, the blame for that collapse remained on Rask all offseason.
And then opening night happened.
And after Halak submitted a 32-save shutout the following night in Buffalo, the pressure for Rask to perform will be immense. Unlike last season, there’s a sentiment within the confines of the Bruins’ dressing room that Cassidy will switch to Halak for a lot longer than he did Khudobin last season.
Rask knows this, and there’s no better time than the present to stop the onslaught of “Trade Tuukka” rants that are about to unload on social media and the Boston airwaves, should he skate off the TD Garden ice the way Price walked off the Fenway Park diamond Saturday night. That’s why this humble hockey scribe is 99 percent certain Rask, unlike Price, answers the bell Monday!