BOSTON– When you give up 5 goals on 19 shots in your season debut, really anything would be an improvement. So you’ll forgive Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask if he set his sights kind of low for the Bruins home opener against Ottawa on Monday.
“Well I finished the game,” Rask said, “I guess that qualifies as a lot better.”
All in all Rask played well enough – stopping 28 of 31 shots in a 6-3 Bruins win – but still managed to provide plenty of fodder for the “But He’s Not Elite” crowd with an ugly goal midway through the second period.
Rask made virtually no effort to save a 30 footer from just inside the blue line through a partial screen cutting the Bruins lead to 3-2. Oh, the Bruins were also down a skater though they weren’t shorthanded. They just simply forgot to send 5 guys on the ice.
“You had to ask, right? You had to ask,” Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy said after the game. “Well, there’s four coaches on the bench and 15 players. We called Bergy’s line. Personally, I went down to talk to Anders [Bjork] about his shift, and I probably should’ve let that go to the assistant coaches, so I didn’t realize he wasn’t out there.
“Then everyone started yelling Pasta! So when the puck dropped all of a sudden that’s what happened. It’s always on the coach to get the right people out there, but by the same token his line was out there, and I just assumed he was on the ice lined up along the boards.”
Rask also was clearly confused by what was happening in front of him, but says there’s still no excuse for letting the shot go by.
“First of all the faceoff guys just stood there after they dropped the puck. I was like, ‘What’s going on, what are we waiting for?'” Rask said. “Then I counted the guys, there was four guys out there and next thing I know the puck is in our net and it’s one of those bang, bang plays that kind of happened quick. But as a goalie you have to be alert at all times.”
Luckily for Tuukka his teammates bounced back with two goals to start the third period to put the game away.
And for his part Tuukka’s GAA was cut in half from an unsightly 11.11 all the way down to 5.49. Is that elite? Hardly, but it’s a step in the right direction.
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