<span class="vcard">James O'Brien</span>

Tuukka Rask

Rask wonders if Bruins could use a few pregame beers


Hockey players have their pregame rituals. Some, like Nicklas Lidstrom in his playing days, eat the same boring meal. You don’t hear about players enjoying a couple cold ones before a contest, though … at least not publicly.

Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask almost seems out of ideas after his team fell flat against the Carolina Hurricanes in a 2-1 shootout loss on Sunday, so he pitched an outside-the-keg idea to CSNNE.com.

“Yeah, maybe mix in a couple of beers before the games. That would make us relax. That might be the final option,” Rask said. “We don’t see a play and don’t make it, then we try to force a play and it’s a turnover where we spend a minute in our own end. That’s how it is. It’s mental…it’s mental. It’s not like the skill is gone.”

The 27-year-old was joking for comic effect (one would assume), but maybe there’s a kernel of truth in the Bruins over-thinking things.

Whatever the explanation was, Rask was confounded by the fact that the Bruins went 17 minutes without a shot on goal.

The Bruins have now lost three straight games, all after regulation. While that means Boston is at least squeezing out standings points, it’s understandable that Rask & Co. are frustrated.

Maybe they need to take a break (and possibly crack open a brew or two)? The Bruins don’t play again until Wednesday, so maybe this is the breather an anxious bunch needs.

Oshie nets hat trick as Blues bombard Sharks

St Louis Blues v New York Islanders

Things haven’t been going smoothly for St. Louis since the Blues visited California in mid December, so maybe it makes sense to have a big breakout in San Jose.

The Blues baffled the Sharks to the tune of a 7-2 score on Saturday thanks in large part to T.J. Oshie, who generated the second hat trick of his NHL career and also grabbed an assist. The American-born winger now has a five-game point streak in which he’s generated five goals and three assists.

To keep it fairly simple, let’s just take a look at Oshie’s three goals:

It was a nice night for the Blues, who won one for Brian Elliott and excelled with Jaden Schwartz back in the lineup.

This marks just the second win in the nine games they’ve played since facing the Kings in Los Angeles on Dec. 18.

Things haven’t been a lot better for San Jose, as they’ve lost four of five since Dec. 22 and face a three-game road run starting on Monday.

Whatever the future holds for each team, it was clear that the Blues were the much better team on Saturday night.

Simmonds says even Gretzky may not have won for Flyers on Saturday

New Jersey Devils v Philadelphia Flyers

Perhaps getting dominated by an all-time great (Jaromir Jagr) and being without one of the game’s best forwards (Claude Giroux) had Wayne Simmonds thinking as the New Jersey Devils plundered his Philadelphia Flyers 5-2 on Saturday.

Either way, greatness was clearly on his mind, as this quote to CSNPhilly.com can attest.

“The way we played tonight, we could have had Wayne Gretzky in our lineup and I don’t know if we would have won,” Wayne Simmonds said.

/Pauses for “Probably because Gretzky’s 53 years old now,” jokes.

It’s tough to say which NHL legend might have been able to turn this one around, especially when New Jersey wasn’t just sitting on its lead:

source:  (Chart via Natural Stat Trick)

The Flyers have lost five games in a row, but the good news is that they’ll be back in Philly for four straight home games. Even with a holiday break to soften some of the blow, that eight-game stretch is a challenge for any team, let alone an up-and-down group like the Flyers.

Carter calls Wild’s 7-1 loss to Stars ‘rock bottom’


Darcy Kuemper was pulled from Saturday’s embarrassing 7-1 loss to the Dallas Stars, yet he wasn’t even the Minnesota Wild goalie with the worst numbers tonight.

Technically speaking, Niklas Backstrom was a little worse, as he allowed three goals on 14 shots (.786 save percentage) while Kuemper gave up four goals on 21 (.810 save percentage).

Really, though, when it’s 7-1, there isn’t much sense singling any one player out.

For forward Ryan Carter, it might just be a new low for the struggling team, as the Pioneer Press’ Chad Graff reports.

“This one stings,” Carter said. “Feels like rock bottom.”

Things have been brutal for Minnesota during the last three weeks in particular. They’ve lost seven of nine games, including three in overtime, as questions continue to loom regarding their goalies and other areas of the game.

No doubt, the Stars deserve some credit for this situation.

Dallas has now won eight of nine games and four in a row, including a 13-1 mark in the last two contests. Minnesota won’t want to make excuses, but the Stars were probably the worst opponent at the worst time for the Wild.

Regardless, the Wild now find themselves searching for answers at 18-15-4.

Red-hot Price, Habs finish perfect trip by beating Pens

Carey Price, Brandon Sutter

David Perron’s goal was noteworthy because it was his first with Pittsburgh, but especially boastful Montreal Canadiens fans might say it was worth mentioning because goals have been so rare against Carey Price.

Price stopped 30 out of 31 shots as the Canadiens handily beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 on Saturday.

As NHL.com’s Arpon Basu notes, Price is on a remarkable run in which he’s allowed two or fewer goals in nine straight starts.

It’s not too surprising that Montreal is rising with its elite goalie, but the results remain impressive.

The Canadiens have won six games in a row, including all five of a road trip they just ended.

Really, the Habs have just been unreal since a very tough stretch in which they dropped six of seven games from mid-November to early December. They’ve only lost one of their last 10 games with just one of those nine victories coming via a shootout.

It’s not too surprising, then, that Montreal sits atop the East with 54 standings points. The Penguins could have crept ahead of the Habs tonight, but their struggles continue to an extent.

The two teams meet again in Montreal next Saturday, so we’ll see where two of the top teams in the East stand once again.