Winter Classic loss not Tuukka Rask’s fault
19 men wore black jerseys with gold trim and a Bruins logo on their chest Friday afternoon at Gillette Stadium, home of the New England Patriots and host to the 2016 NHL Winter Classic. About 16 of those 19 men wearing the home black jerseys can be blamed for the Bruins 5-1 loss to the Montreal Canadiens.
One Bruin who you shouldn’t blame: Tuukka Rask.
Looking at the score and seeing five pucks beat Rask into the Bruins net makes it easy to blame the former Vezina winner for the loss. But in reality, if it wasn’t for Rask, the Canadiens would have won by a touchdown, give or take the extra point.
Embarrassed and frustrated were the two common words thrown around by the Bruins after their Winter Classic loss. Embarrassed by the way they played and frustrated for letting a stellar performance by Rask go to waste.
“Obviously he made some big saves, he was our best player.” Bruins’ captain Zdeno Chara said. “We didn’t play, like I said, the way we should have in front of him.”
The goals allowed by Rask were not much of his fault. From pucks being batted out of mid air, to two-on-ones, to defensive breakdowns in front him, Rask didn’t get much help.
“He played well. He kept us in the game for majority of the game and they got a lot of pucks on net and he kept us in it throughout the game and we didn’t put any pucks in the net” Dorchester, Massachusetts native Jimmy Hayes told the media after the loss.
As a team the Bruins continue to look for consistency. Win streaks have been undermined due to the losing streaks that have followed. For Rask, consistency is something he’s had of late. But at the end of the day, sometimes there is only so much he can do.
“Yeah, yeah that’s it- we looked flat out there and they kind off caught us off guard” said a visibly upset Rask. “And it’s just disappointing… it’s very disappointing. I really don’t know what else to say.”
Trailing 1-0 just 1:14 into the game thanks to David Desharnais’ eighth of the season, the Bruins were behind the eight-ball right from the start. A season low three first period shots from the Bruins certainly did not help.
“I don’t know I just think we just mentally not there I guess. Weren’t executing the game plan like we wanted to in skate. When a couple little things go wrong like that it becomes big and then that’s the way it looked like” Rask added. “We gave them a ton of scoring chances in those two periods, which is unlike us. The chances you give up then you have to create some scoring chances, you know. We didn’t do that.”
After notching his fourth career regular season victory against Montreal in early December, Rask was looking for his first career regular season win streak against the Bruins longtime rivals. With the loss, people will now go back to pointing to Rask’s record against Montreal, questioning what it is about Montreal that haunts Rask so much.
The Bruins and Rask can’t afford to let this one loss ruin them, there’s too much at stake. Still in the thick of things in the Atlantic Division, the Bruins return to action Tuesday night to host the top team in the Eastern Conference, Washington Capitals.
Rask knows exactly what the Bruins need to do to move past the loss.
“We’ll look at some game tape and try to move on. I think next game is going to be Washington [Capitals], definitely not going to get any easier. So tighten up a little bit and move on…yeah.”
All season long they’ve known exactly what they’ve needed to do. Executing on that plan has been a whole different story.