By: Liz Rizzo | Follow me on Twitter @pastagrl88
It seems like only yesterday that the Boston Bruins were looking to end the regular season on a high note, avenging their less-than-stellar end to last season’s loss to the St. Louis Blues. The B’s would be the first team to get to 100 points when the global pandemic took control over our daily lives.
By the end of next week, the team will be heading into Toronto as they look to mentally and physically prepare for life in the “Bubble Playoffs.” With news that many of the players were “deemed unfit to participate” (and setting off a social media speculation storm), the focus remains clear: for the Bruins to finish what they started. As both staff and players remain optimistic that many of those missing players will indeed be on the ice come Playoff time, one thing hasn’t changed: continuing the dominance in the net.
Early this month, Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask was named a finalist for this season’s Vezina Trophy. By the numbers, Rask came away leading the entire league in goals-against average (2.12). In the 41 games that he played, his record was 26-8-6. While he lead the league, his partner in crime landed number six on the list. Jaroslav Halak had a healthy 2.39 goal-against-average in the 31 games he played. Although looking back, this season’s games seem ancient, Halak came through and served as a very worthy partner – so much so that if you remember, there were reports of a “goalie controversy.” There were even some “fans” calling for Halak to take over for Rask.
TWO IS BETTER THAN ONE
Sharing the duties these past couple of seasons has undoubtedly helped Rask’s mental game and was a crucial piece of the Bruins’ success. Boston has had the luxury of having two very productive and capable goaltenders. Not putting anything past Rask, it was nice that he had the chance to rest during the regular season and be more refreshed come the Playoffs (although this sentiment has caused much heated debate over the past few years amongst Bruins fans),
The successful tandem leads way to the discussion on whether the coaching staff will continue with this winning formula. In a not-so-secret nutshell, this seems very likely. In their recent practice sessions, Bruins Head Coach Bruce Cassidy entertained the idea of having Halak play in the round-robin games to ensure he’d be ready to go. Bruins General Manager Don Sweeney spoke to the media earlier this Sunday morning and touched upon the goaltender situation:
“I think Tuukka is in a great place mentally as well as physically. That they’ve shared the net the last couple of years, he and Jaro have a great relationship, they push each other…We do have both goaltenders that we feel very comfortable with. Either goaltender…we’ve been able to win home and away and we’ll continue to feel that way going forward.”
With a shortened tournament adding that much more pressure on players, the pressure will be that much more on the goalie, as there will be little room to have many off-nights. Ultimately the discussion will be up to the head coach and staff as to who helms the net.
In the past, much has been dissected and discussed regarding Rask’s abilities in the Playoffs, however this year’s situation is a bit unorthodox. Tuukka has mentioned that he wouldn’t be surprised if Halak shares duties during the round-robin games and the Playoffs. In a recent Zoom call with the other Vezina Trophy finalists, he pointed out:
“I’d be surprised if you see goalies play every minute of every game during these playoffs because the situation is so different. But I’m looking forward to it. You never know but I guess we’ll see what happens. We’ve had the luxury of having two very good goalies the last few seasons, so I think we’re in a good spot.”
“The way I look at it, all bets are off because everybody has been off for four months. It’s not the same situation that it would have been, or it could have been in March and April. Everybody is starting from scratch and trying to recapture the feeling you had when the quarantine period started. But it’s going to be tough. I think as a team we’re just trying to just go out there, start strong and recapture that energy we had.
“I’m just going to go out there and try to play my best and we’re going to have three games before the playoffs start. So hopefully you can get that good feeling back with yourself and you’re ready to start playoffs. It’s not going to be easy, but it’s not going to be easy for anybody. All of us are just trying to do our best to prepare and then make a good product for the audience to watch.”
Check out the new Black N’ Gold Hockey Podcast episode 185 that we recorded below on 7-12-20! You can find our show on many worldwide platforms such as Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, iHeart Radio, Spotify, SoundCloud, and Stitcher!
Subscribe to our new Black N’ Gold Hockey YouTube channel! We’d really appreciate the continued support. Click HERE for exciting Black N’ Gold online content!