Unflappable Rask is Key to Bruins’ Stanley Cup

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BOSTON — Tuukka Rask first caught coach Bruce Cassidy’s consideration as a hot-headed minor-leaguer who was throwing milk crates onto the ice when issues didn’t go his means.

Nowadays, the Bruins goalie is more likely to shrug off a mistake than break his stick over a crossbar.

“I simply assume he’s been actual calm for some time now, on and off the ice, actually even-keeled,” Cassidy mentioned Tuesday, a day after Boston beat St. Louis Four-2 in Recreation 1 of the Stanley Cup Closing. “He’s gotten upset … however he at all times will get it proper again. That’s sometimes Tuukka.”

The Bruins are up 1-Zero within the Stanley Cup Closing after a Four-2 victory over the Blues in Recreation 1. (AP Photograph/Michael Dwyer)

The Bruins are three wins away from their second NHL title this decade, and Rask is a giant purpose why. After a so-so common season that had backup Jaroslav Halak difficult for his job — and plenty of followers calling for the workforce to make the change — the unflappable Finn has gotten higher even when the pressure of the playoffs appears to be sporting everybody else down.

Rask Might Win the Conn Smythe

He has given up three or extra targets simply 3 times this post-season, and he completed off the final two rounds with shutouts which have dropped his goals-against common to 1.85. He’s effectively on his technique to turning into the primary goalie to win the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP since 2012.

For a unique view of the goalie, Cassidy urged viewing Rask’s viral hissy match after shedding a 2009 AHL recreation in a shootout on a purpose that he thought hit the crossbar. Rask took his follow the web like an axe, then flung it throughout the rink as he skated off; when he obtained to the tunnel, he discovered a milk crate that additionally discovered its means again to the ice.

Rask doesn’t do this anymore. He has matured and he additionally realized it was fruitless.

“It doesn’t do something” to lose your mood, he mentioned Tuesday, his arms crossed and his shoulders in what appeared like a everlasting shrug.

Rask has realized to place errors or dangerous luck behind him. (Photograph by Jamie Sabau/NHLI by way of Getty Photographs)

As an alternative, he has been in a position to put errors or dangerous luck behind him, and Cassidy mentioned that was the turning level after St. Louis opened a 2-Zero lead within the opener.

“You wish to have that to not let video games get away from you,” the coach mentioned. “There’s at all times, in video games each evening, the place issues can get away from you. Usually, you want your goalie to make the subsequent save when it’s 2-Zero.”

Rask did that.

And he additionally made each save after. (Although there weren’t that many: The Blues had been outshot 18-Three within the second interval, and 38-20 general.)

“All people has to tug their load. That’s the one means you may win,” Rask mentioned. “People can have performances in sure video games and switch the tide, however on the finish of the day it’s a workforce sport and all people wants to tug alongside and that’s why we’ve been profitable.”

Rask’s Playoff Woes Have Followers Skeptical

Though Rask received the 2014 Vezina Trophy and is the profession chief in save share and goals-against common amongst lively goalies, Bruins followers have resisted embracing him.

He was in internet when the Bruins blew a Three-Zero result in the Philadelphia Flyers within the 2010 playoffs, and when the Bruins received all of it the subsequent season he was Tim Thomas’ backup. Thomas was gone and Rask was the starter two years later after they went again to the Cup Closing, however the Bruins misplaced to the Chicago Blackhawks after Rask allowed two targets within the final 76 seconds of the sixth and clinching recreation.

The following yr, Rask was the league’s prime goalie.

Rask says that taking part in in fewer common season video games is paying off within the playoffs. (AP Photograph/Mary Schwalm)

However the Bruins hadn’t been in a position to sniff a lot playoff success once more till this yr. Though the common season was one among his worst — his goals-against common was 2.48, his second-highest as an everyday — he performed in solely 46 video games. He mentioned the remainder is paying off now.

“I believe there’s a giant distinction once you play 45 or 65 video games,” he mentioned. “You don’t have that point to get the remainder that you just type of wish to.”

Rask’s identify is already on the Stanley Cup with the 2011 workforce, and he mentioned the accomplishment shouldn’t be diminished by the truth that he didn’t seem within the post-season.

“All people within the room has a task,” he mentioned. “I performed a whole lot of video games within the common season after which didn’t play a second within the playoffs. However for us, it didn’t matter if you happen to performed otherwise you didn’t play. When you’re a seventh (defenceman), eighth D-man, backup goalie, you had been nonetheless doing one thing to contribute. It was nice. You want that.”

That’s a part of his message to his youthful teammates who’re within the Closing for the primary time: Don’t waste the chance, and don’t neglect to get pleasure from it.

And don’t let your feelings take over.

“On the ice, it’s a recreation and also you simply attempt to preserve your nerves as calm as doable, I suppose,” he mentioned. “Expertise helps on that.”


AP Hockey Author Stephen Whyno additionally contributed to this story.


Extra AP NHL: https://apnews.com/NHL and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

Jimmy Golen, The Related Press

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