It was a night that Tuukka Rask wants to forget.
It was a night that Claude Julien wants to forget.
It was a night that the Boston Bruins want to forget.
It was also a night that offered more questions than answers.
With the archrival Montreal Canadiens in town, the Boston Bruins were looking to extend their recent hot streak against a team who were losers of four of their last five prior to Thursday’s contest. Unfortunately, the Hub of Hockey saw their beloved Black and Gold fall to Les Habitants, 4-1, in an uninspiring effort.
As the Monday morning quarterback articles come in from the local Boston media, one of the talking points is undoubedtly Rask’s continued struggles against the Habs. Those nightmares continued for the Finnish netminder after he was pulled in the second period. That marked the fourth time in 2013-14 where Tuukka was replaced by Chad Johnson.
One could argue that Julien was looking for a spark from his team and that’s why he went with the switch. All things considered, Rask did not play poorly – compared to the rest of the team – as he made some solid saves in the first period to keep the B’s within striking distance as they only trailed 2-1 after 20 minutes. Still, Tuukka was not himself for the most part and was just a piece of the team’s lethargic performance.
Whatever the explanation was for Julien to pull Rask after Brian Gionta’s ninth of the season at 11:54 of the second period is anyone’s guess. And the Bruins’ bench boss wasn’t going to reveal any further details.
“It’s a lot to do with everything,” a feisty Julien said during his postgame press conference. “That’s a decision that I make, and I don’t feel I have to explain it every time.”
That answer alone didn’t stop the questions from coming. And that didn’t make things a little more testy for Claude and the hockey scribes gathered around the Will McDonagh Press Room.
Initially, Rask didn’t hold back his feelings on being pulled after 31:54 of work. He was seen on the bench taking out his frustrations after allowing a soft goal by Gionta – on the power play – as he shook his head and went straight down the tunnel after his night was over.
Unlike his coach, Rask was not as emotional during his interview session with the media.
“I play as long as they tell me to play,” Tuukka said. “I try to battle out there as hard as I can, I stay out there as long as I can, and today it lasted a little over one period. It’s too bad.”
It is too bad for the Bruins. And in case Julien’s decision to pull Tuukka was to get a spark from his team, well, that didn’t work.
In less than two minutes, the Bruins committed another turnover and just like that Daniel Briere took advantage on a breakaway and beat Johnson for his eighth of the season at 15:38 of the second period.
To put it simply, it was an off night for Rask, who is now 2-10-2 lifetime against Montreal with a 3.03 goals against average and a .899 save percentage. More importantly, it was an off night for the Black and Gold.
See what Julien, Zdeno Chara and Milan Lucic had to say about last night’s loss to the Habs.