(Photo Credit: NBC Sports)
The “Playoff Split.”
It could easily be a bowling term for leaving the 7-10 on the lane during the PBA Open. And as you may remember from FOX NHL Saturday, “bowling would be better if it were hockey”–or vice versa for those bunch of jerks in Carolina (just kidding).
However, in the recent words of Boston Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy, it’s more like 10-7–at least from here on out for No.’s 40 & 41 for the Black N’ Gold:
Cassidy noted today that it will likely be a 10-7 split in terms of starts for Tuukka Rask & Jaroslav Halak over the last 17 games of the regular season.
With that workload, Rask will have 45 starts this season — his lightest total since 2012-13 during a lockout-shortened year.
— Conor Ryan (@ConorRyan_93) March 4, 2019
But, what does all this mean for mid-April, when the real NHL season starts up and your starting goaltender needs to be penciled in for the playoffs? Should the B’s take advantage of Tuukka Rask’s “lightest [number of games played] total since 2012-13” as intrepid BSJ reporter Conor Ryan referenced? Or, should the team & management hearken back to the days of yore (not to be confused w/ another B’s blogger the Days of Y’Orr) when BOTH goalies shared the second season workload aka the “Playoff Split” ala Andy Moog & Réjean “Reggie” Lemelin…two of the finest crease keepers to ever wear the spoked-B (and IMHHO my lifetime’s best B’s tandem until this year’s performances of monsieurs Rask & Halak, respectively)?
An #NHLBruins memory worth “saving”: last time B’s had TWO goalies playing at the top of their games all season long (& sharing workload) like Mr. 17-game-pt-streak @tuukkarask & .924 Sv% Jaro Halak, they went to the Cup—twice. Stick salute to @andy_moog35 & Reggie Lemelin!🏒👏🏻 pic.twitter.com/BIZCwj4jrW
— Evan Michael (@00EvanMichael) March 5, 2019
It would be hard to argue against the numbers, which certainly do indicate and project that the Bruins would be best served to play both goalies–as they have been all season long–throughout what we all hope & expect is a long playoff run. Sure, there’s a lot of evidence supporting the “You Go With Your Number One” argument in the playoffs no matter what, and even a bit of recent B’s history where that worked out quite nicely. But, how ’bout if you have TWO Number Ones, just like the B’s do now and did back then when Mooger & Reggie literally owned the Jennings Trophy?
— Richard Slate (@RichSlate) February 27, 2019
Thomas now has 11 wins. The last two Bruins goalies to do that: Andy Moog (13 in 1990) Reggie Lemelin (11 in 1988) #goodcompany
— Kirk Luedeke (@kluedeke29) May 24, 2011
Can there be a Part Two featuring Andy Moog/Reggie Lemelin?!?! (I’m biased like @TravMcNasty lol).🥅🥅🥅🥅🥅🥅
“The Greatest Goalies In Bruins History” https://t.co/h5G6SuJHII via @pastagrl88 #bruins #goalies #nhl
— Evan Michael (@00EvanMichael) January 29, 2019
If you think about it (or just look it up–although I prefer using my puck head), between the time the Lemelin/Moog tandem was between the pipes and the current Rask/Halak pairing of now, the Bruins really haven’t had two goalies that were capable of, or that they trusted, to split a season’s worth of games so evenly & so successfully. Yes, Tim Thomas & Manny Fernandez joined the prestigious Jennings company of Lemelin & Moog during the epic 2008-09 B’s season, but in all fairness to Fernandez, he really didn’t play that much compared to TT. Heck, for about decade, the B’s had a revolving door in the crease where 4, 5, even 6 goalies got starts (I’m talking about YOU Bill Ranford, Rob Tallas, Jim Carey, Scott Bailey, Tim Cheveldae & Paxton Schafer of the league-worst ’96-’97 season)!
— Doug Norris (@GoalieHistory) August 21, 2017
So, knowing the numbers & knowing the history, doesn’t it make sense for Cassidy to take advantage of the rarefied air–I mean ice–surrounding his dynamic duo in net and perhaps plan for a duality of options when it comes to who starts for the playoffs? I mean, outside of the aforementioned Thomas standing on his head in 2011 in every round, especially the Cup Finals, the B’s haven’t fared the best in recent playoff play when they’ve tried to rely on “just the starter.”
(Photo Credit: Boston Sports Journal)
Of course, I remember how Rask nearly accomplished the same in 2013 (were it not for :78 seconds of ‘Hawky’ hell in Game 6). And yes, I also realize my favorite B’s tandem of all-time lost both of the Stanley Cup series they shared games in (but let’s be honest… NO ONE was beating the Oilers in those days, Boston Garden electricity bills included).
I’d rather see both of them going,better chance of going on a run,Thomas/rask Thomas/Fernandez moog/lemelin,when these tandems were on Bruins went on runs https://t.co/h5yB7oiATy
— derek delvecchio (@delvecchiodere1) November 19, 2017
So every goalie in the 39 years between 1972 and 2011 has been garbage? Moog and Lemelin made it to the final twice and lost. Were they terrible?
— phonymahoney (@phoneymahoney) March 1, 2019
But, hardly any NHL team or franchise ever gets the chance to prep for the post season with two elite goaltenders simultaneously boosting each other’s play while inspiring the offense in front of them to score & find ways to win. And your 16-game point streak Boston Bruins have that chance — Tampa be damned (with Lightning!) — this year. It’s now up to the B’s to decide how to make the most of it. Sure, a lot can happen between now and April 15th. But if all goes according to plan, then I sure hope to see both Rask & Halak making playoff appearances this year.
I’d settle for 10-7. Heck, make it a 7-10… as long they’re wins! After all, since sixteen is the magic number, this is a “Playoff Split” well worth picking up.