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Monday, January 3, 2011

Rask is up to the task

Tuukka Rask's brilliance in his 36-save performance in a 2-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs to close out Boston's five-game road trip with eight out of 10 points earned (4-0-2) underscores what was written in the Waffle Watch post earlier today.

The guy is a serious gamer. And, he stole a game for his team; a big one because it not only keeps the B's on top of the Northeast Division, but it denies the Leafs two more points, pushing that pick closer to Gabriel Landeskog or Adam Larsson-land

Two things I want to clarify:

1. I took issue with the idea that the lack of usage/pulling him against Buffalo was destroying his confidence. I still say that's balderdash. The kid just doesn't seem to be wired like that. I've been around goalies for a long time and Rask is a different breed: he just seems to shrug his shoulders and get on with things whether he wins or loses. I know he's human, so there is probably an element of confidence that is affected, but Rask is not like some of the "deer in the headlights" goalies you encounter around the league. He may not play well when off his game, but it isn't that he doesn't believe he can do it. It's more like a breakdown in his fundamentals/technique and as any technical goalie will tell you-- if you lose that comfort zone/basis for that style, you're going to struggle whether you're confident in yourself or not. And that's where I take issue with the whole handling him with kid gloves thing. These a pro athletes, not children. And, if he really is pouting over the whole thing, then Rask is the one with the bigger problem, not coach Claude Julien. Don't ask some of the old school goalies to feel sorry for Rask's plight either. How about all of the great goalies out there who never played during the six-team NHL era, but who would have been All-Stars if they played in the original 30? Think they'll feel sorry that Rask may be down because he isn't playing enough this year? Perspective. Sometimes, we get so wrapped up in what might be going on, that we forget the common sense.

2. I do concur with the many who feel he isn't getting enough playing time, and I believe that after a game like tonight, Julien will roll him out there a few more times. That's good news for Tim Thomas, who has earned more starts at this juncture, but shouldn't necessarily be carrying the heavy load so much as we approach the halfway point of the season. Rask, by virtue of his shaky start, earned his status as backup in Boston right now. But Rask, by virtue of his sublime regular season performance and playoff series vs. Buffalo last year, has also earned more than just one start in almost three weeks. That's a balance that the coach has to figure out, and people are right to question it. But, when you use it as an excuse for a player's inability to perform, then that's where I draw the line. Rask showed a major something tonight, and he's going to get more time going forward. He needs to take advantage of it. Making excuses for the guy when he doesn't is unseemly, though.

So, Rask is back, up to the task and took a big two points to the team who once drafted him 21st overall in 2005. They had some guy named James Riemer in net for them btw. He played well, but if you don't think this has to be killing Leafs Nation every time they see Rask in a Bruins uni, then you just haven't been paying attention to Toronto's plight.

What does this have to do with the 2011 draft, you ask? Well, with Toronto on pace for about 70 points, that pick is going to be high (as in top-five with a smaller chance every day of dropping beyond 5 and maybe going up to third overall). And even if it turns into say a Dougie Hamilton or Ryan Murphy over Landeskog or Larsson because someone else got to the outstanding Swedes first, it's still a big haul for a player in Phil Kessel who's a lot of sizzle but not much steak (as his 0 goals, 1 assist in 9 games vs. Boston can attest).

It might be time to start following the waffle watch even closer as we enter the dog days of winter.


  1. I think every Bruins fan needs to read this, absorb it, and then read it again and again until they've absorbed every single word.

    No one could have said it better than this.

  2. I was surprised when Boston wasnt leading the division. Good to see them up there. I totally despise Montreal and really luke Boston. And I am finally a satisfied hockey fan.