Tuukka Rask carrying the Bruins into the postseason

Rask3.jpgWashington Capitals vs. Boston Bruins
Noon EST – Sunday, April 11, 2010
Live on NBC

You have to wonder how the Boston Bruins’ season might have gone had they known what they had in Tuukka Rask just six months ago. He has always been decent in the AHL, but never exactly dominant. In fact, a few years back I would have told you his success in Providence was a direct result of playing for an incredibly efficient defensive team.

Now the Bruins are paying a 35-year old goaltender $5 million a season for the next three years (four including this season), and he’s already been passed up by younger a much cheaper goaltender who has held this team together through an insane amount of late-season adversity.

It’s tough to exactly fault the Bruins, however. Here they have a goaltender who was coming off an incredible, Vezina-winning season who did everything he possibly could to carry his team in the playoffs. Sure, the warning signs were there — yet, the Bruins finally had some solid goaltending on a team that was ready to contend once more.

So they give Thomas the big contract, and gave Rask the modest two-year extension after just nine total NHL games.

Rask has since taken the starting goaltender’s spot from Thomas, and will be starting for the Bruins once the playoffs begin. With just 45 games under his belt this season, it’s tough to directly compare him with the other goaltenders in the NHL — but Thomas won the Vezina with just 54 games last season, so what the heck.

Rask leads the NHL in both goals-against average (1.97) and save percentage (0.931), but more importantly he’s winning more than losing. Thomas wasn’t exactly putting up bad numbers this season; he just couldn’t win. For a team that had high playoff hopes after last season, it was a tough pill to swallow that their champion goaltender was seemingly unable to win any games.

So now we have Rask, with two shutouts and a 8-5-1 record since the Olympic break as the Bruins lost some their most important player (Marc Savard) and faced a drought of  scoring. The Bruins will be the least-offensive team in the playoffs and Rask will be called upon to be the savior for the Bruins as he’s been all season long.

And the $5 million goaltender who can’t win any longer? He’ll be on the bench, ready to jump in if needed and watching his much cheaper counterpart in net.

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    PHT Morning Skate: Erik Karlsson’s awesome Halloween costume may give you nightmares

    Melinda Currey on Instagram

    PHT’s Morning Skate takes a look around the world of hockey to see what’s happening and what we’ll be talking about around the NHL world and beyond.

    –Which of these four players will be able to sustain their hot starts? (Sportsnet)

    –Caps forward Daniel Winnik lost a piece of his ear after blocking a shot last night. (Fox Sports)

    –Bobby Orr still wants to see the return of the red line. (ESPN)

    –Five General Managers that are on the hot seat. (The Hockey News)

    –Watch as workers put together the rink at Investors Group Field for the Heritage Classic:

    –Warning: You can’t unsee Erik Karlsson‘s black swan Halloween costume (if you can’t see it, click here):

    I just want to be perfect. ⚫️🐦🙆🏻

    A photo posted by melindacurrey (@melindacurrey) on

    Ovechkin scored the winner against the Panthers, as the Capitals continued to roll

    Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin (8), from Russia, celebrates his goal as center Marcus Johansson (90), from Sweden, comes to join him in the first period of an NHL hockey game against the New York Islanders, Tuesday, April 5, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
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    SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) The Washington Capitals are off to a fast start.

    Alex Ovechkin scored the game-winning goal midway through the third period Thursday night to lift the Capitals over the Florida Panthers 4-2.

    Ovechkin put the Capitals ahead 3-2 with 12:27 left in the third. His one-timer from the point got past Roberto Luongo, who was screened on the play.

    The Capitals have earned at least a point in each of their four games.

    “At the start of the season, it’s almost always important to take points,” Ovechkin said. “We didn’t lose the game and it’s a good sign. We just have to continue to collect the points and move forward.”

    Marcus Johansson, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Justin Williams scored for the Capitals. Matt Niskanen recorded two assists and Braden Holtby made 26 saves.

    “In the third, (we) responded really well and I thought in the third period they (Panthers) really didn’t have much,” Capitals coach Barry Trotz said. “They had one or two chances, but not much. We had the majority of them.”

    Jaromir Jagr became the third player to score 750 goals. He is in third place all-time in the NHL, behind only Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801). Michael Matheson also scored for the Panthers. Jagr’s goal was his first in 10 games, including one last season, six playoff games last season, and three this season.

    “It’s always good to get the first one. A good play, a good pass, I was wide open in the slot,” Jagr said. “I had a lot of chances in the games before but I couldn’t put the puck in. I’m glad I did tonight.”

    Luongo made 25 stops for the Panthers, who lost their second straight.

    The Capitals surged in the third period with two goals on 13 shots. Johannson stretched the lead to 4-2 with an unassisted goal with 1:20 left.

    “In the third we sat back a little bit or they pushed back a little bit.” Panthers coach Gerard Gallant said. “They took the chances to us. That third goal was sort of lucky, a bouncing puck from the blue line and changed direction. Tough to lose like that.”

    Jagr’s power-play goal tied the game at 2 with 5:50 left in the second. Jagr took a pass in the slot from Aleksander Barkov from behind the goal line and beat Holtby. The power-play goal was the first in 11 opportunities for the Panthers this season.

    The Panthers had an apparent power-play goal at 7:47 of the second waved off. Colton Sceviour swept in a loose puck sitting to the left of the crease but an early whistle killed the play.

    “He (referee) said he wasn’t in position and thought the puck was covered. He made a mistake,” Gallant said.

    Trailing 2-0, the Panthers closed to 2-1 on Matheson’s shot from the sideboards that snuck past Holtby on the stick side with 6:13 left in the first. The goal was Matheson’s second in two games.

    The Capitals scored two goals less than two minutes apart in the first period. Williams took a pass from Nate Schmidt in front and poked in the puck on his second try to make it 1-0 at 8:25. The goal was Williams 250th in the NHL.

    Washington stretched its lead to 2-0 when Kuznetsov deflected a shot from the point under Luongo’s glove at 10:21.

    Stars’ Sharp out with concussion symptoms following controversial OT loss to Kings


    The Dallas Stars lost to the L.A. Kings on Thursday, and they could also lose forward Patrick Sharp for a period of time to injury, too.

    Sharp left the game with concussion symptoms, as per the Stars. He didn’t return. The 34-year-old forward was on the receiving end of a big hit along the boards from Brayden McNabb early in the second period and was put through concussion protocol.

    As per Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News, Sharp will be out for “a while,” according to head coach Lindy Ruff, who is already dealing with a host of injury problems up front. Stars forward Patrick Eaves also left the game with a lower-body injury and didn’t return.

    The Stars lost 4-3 in overtime, as the Kings recorded their first win of the season, although the eventual winning goal was reviewed for possible goalie interference.

    From the NHL:

    At 1:20 of overtime in the Kings/Stars game, the Situation Room initiated a review under the terms of a Coach’s Challenge to review whether a Los Angeles player interfered with Dallas goaltender Kari Lehtonen prior to Alec Martinez‘s goal.

    After reviewing all available replays and consulting with NHL Hockey Operations staff, the Referee confirmed no goaltender interference infractions occurred before the puck crossed the goal line.

    Therefore the original call stands – good goal Los Angeles Kings.

    Of course, Ruff didn’t agree with the league’s ruling on the play.

    Welcome back: Patrice Bergeron leads Bruins to victory in return from injury

    Patrice Bergeron
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    BOSTON (AP) Patrice Bergeron scored the tiebreaking goal with 75 seconds left in his season debut to give the Boston Bruins a 2-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils on Thursday night.

    After missing the first three games with an unspecified injury, Bergeron returned to practice on Wednesday and took regular shifts in the home opener against New Jersey. He was on the ice when linemate Brad Marchand tied it 1-all with just under 10 minutes left in regulation, and he was there again to slide in the game-winner at the end.

    Tuukka Rask had 28 saves for the Bruins, who fought off a power play for the last 50 seconds without allowing a shot.

    Kyle Palmieri scored for the Devils, and Cory Schneider stopped 34 shots.

    The game remained scoreless until Palmieri scored a power-play goal about four minutes into the third period. But Marchand tied it with just under 10 minutes left in regulation – his third goal and eighth point in four games this season.

    Without Bergeron, the Bruins moved David Backes from right wing to center between Marchand and David Pastrnak. They combined for 16 points in the Bruins’ first three games.

    The ceremonial first puck was dropped by 98-year-old former Bruins captain Milt Schmidt, with help from Bobby Orr. It was the 80th and 50th anniversaries, respectively, of their rookie seasons. They each went on to win the Stanley Cup twice, have their numbers retired in Boston and earn induction in the Hall of Fame.

    Taylor Hall missed an open net early in the third after drawing a penalty that led to the Devils goal. Palmieri delivered early in the power play, shooting it under the bent knee of defender Brandon Carlo and through the legs of the screened goaltender.