Boston should make Rask their No.1 goalie

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Sure, it’s just one game, but seeing Tim Thomas get pulled in the first period after allowing three New Jersey Devils goals makes me think that the Boston Bruins should suck it up and make young goalie Tuukka Rask their true No. 1 goalie down the stretch. No doubt about it, this isn’t the ideal situation, but considering their paper-thin lead over the Rangers, sometimes you have to do what makes you uncomfortable.

When Thomas signed a four year, $20 million extension during his Vezina trophy winning season, my biggest criticisms had to with the unorthodox goalie’s age. I thought: sure, he’s playing great right now, but goalies age like boxed wine (he’ll turn 36 on April 15). If Thomas flops (uh, in the wrong direction, that is) during this contract, the Bruins can’t get rid of his cap hit with a buyout. In other words, he needs to appear to be a franchise goalie to someone even if the Bruins are no longer convinced. So Boston isn’t crazy for giving Thomas a long leash.

Now, all that “big picture” talk might be hasty. It’s not as if the Bruins’ only question is goaltending, being that they’ve struggled mightily to score goals. It’s quite possible that Thomas can rebound to his once-elite form next season or even figure it out as the year closes out.

But, honestly, the Bruins don’t have much time to explore the studio space. Taking a look at the numbers from NBC sports, Rask bests Thomas in just about every relevant goalie category (stat nerds and sportswriters, for once, can stop exchanging angry e-mails and faxes!). 

Tuukka Rask: 32 games played, 15-9, 2.14 GAA, .927 save percentage and 4 shutouts

Tim Thomas: 39 games played, 15-16, 2.51 GAA, .916 save percentage and 3 shutouts

Perhaps the league learned how to exploit Thomas thanks to another year of tape on the unusual goalie. Maybe he’s struggling to live up to his Vezina trophy and fancy new contract. Or, maybe, Rask’s stoic Finnish goaltending is a better fit for the grind-it-out style the Bruins seem forced to play.

Either way, it seems to me at least, that they should give Rask most of the starts and worry about the longer term future later. What do you think, though? Should the Bruins stay the course or give Rask the No.1 job?

Oilers get Kronwall’d – in more ways than one

Niklas Kronwall
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When someone gets clobbered by Niklas Kronwall, they get Kronwall’d.

(His detractors may insist that the definition require the words “dirty” or “illegal,” but that’s a debate for another day.)

It’s easy to get lost in those thunderous hits and forget that the  Swedish defenseman also brings some skill to the table.

He made a big impact – literally and figuratively – in Detroit’s 4-3 overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers on Friday.

First, the Kronwalling:

Next, Kronwall’s overtime-winner:

It hasn’t always been pretty, but the Red Wings are leaning on guys like Kronwall and Dylan Larkin to stick with it.

Tonight’s win extends their point streak to six games (4-0-2), with five of those contests going to overtime.

Dubinsky – Crosby’s nemesis – gets the last laugh on Friday

Sidney Crosby, Brandon Dubinsky
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Brandon Dubinsky isn’t a household name like Sidney Crosby is, yet for all the hype that Crosby vs. Alex Ovechkin gets, Dubinsky is the sort of guy who truly rankles No. 87.

It’s been getting that spotlight since the Columbus Blue Jackets faced off against the Pittsburgh Penguins in a brisk playoff series, though it wouldn’t be surprising if the bad blood stemmed to Dubinsky’s days with New York.

To some, Dubinsky’s cross-check on Crosby will resonate far more than the end result of this game:

The bottom line is that he’ll get the last laugh, at least for now. (In-game, that moment merely drew a minor penalty.)

That’s because Dubinsky set up the overtime game-winner, and the cherry on the top of that spite sundae came with Crosby being on the ice when it happened:

They’re not just rubbing the Penguins the wrong way.

Even Dubinsky kind of sort of admits that he may have been in the wrong.


More and more, the Blue Jackets are looking like a nuisance … possibly one that will grind their way to an unlikely playoff berth. They improved to 8-4-0 in November after a disastrous 2-10-0 October.

In other words, there’s at least a chance that we may see these increasingly bitter rivals butt heads in another playoff series.

Eichel’s sweet snipe helps Sabres snap six-game skid

Jack Eichel
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The Buffalo Sabres probably deserved better during at least some chunks of their six-game skid, yet Jack Eichel swooped in on Friday to remind fans that there’s a light shining at the end of the tunnel.

You can watch his goal from tonight’s eventual 4-1 win against the Carolina Hurricanes in the video above.

That’s not necessarily the absolute height of his on-ice magic, yet it clearly gave his team a lift:

Call this a healthy reminder that Eichel has the ability to change games, something Buffalo fans hope to get used to.

Report: Likely no suspension for Matt Beleskey’s hit on Derek Stepan

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Alain Vigneault went there in comparing Matt Beleskey‘s hit on Derek Stepan to the notorious check Aaron Rome delivered on Nathan Horton many moons ago, but the league seems to disagree.

While Rome sat through that memorable Stanley Cup Final between Boston and Vancouver, it sounds like Beleskey won’t face any further discipline, according to ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun.

In the unlikely event that anything changes, PHT will make note.

The next game between the Rangers and Bruins takes place at Madison Square Garden on Jan. 11. Will these bad feelings linger?