Rask sees positives in Bruins already facing playoff-like urgency


When it comes to the final stretch of recent seasons, the Boston Bruins usually had a playoff spot locked up, using seeding as a source of motivation. This time around, they’re fighting for a wild card berth.

Tuukka Rask doesn’t think that’s such a bad thing, actually, as he told CSNNE.com.

“We’ve got a lot of big games coming up,”Rask said. “It feels like every game is a playoff right now, so when the playoffs come we won’t have to be mentally prepared. Or be scared that we’re going to fold because we won the President’s Trophy and stuff like that. I think we can make this work for us.”

Head coach Claude Julien backed up that notion, arguing that big games can bring out the best in a team.

We’ve certainly seen more of Rask’s best lately, too.

The 28-year-old started the season on a down note – at least according to his lofty standards – especially with just a 4-4-0 record and an usually bad .899 save percentage in October. He’s been looking a lot more like a defending Vezina winner since 2015 came around, something that’s seen most obvious in March: he’s 4-1-1 with an outstanding .952 save percentage.

Maybe pushing that hard can be a little taxing – he already sat out one game this week with “general soreness” – yet it keeps the Bruins and their franchise goalie sharp. One imagines it may be refreshing to play more of an underdog role after a stretch of ranking among the East’s favorites.

All of that said, this CSNNE.com article argues that the Bruins aren’t totally out of the woods just yet:

Along with the general softness across this team’s roster and the intermittent offensive droughts, there are times when the Bruins want things to be easy. It’s a natural human trait, to be sure, but it’s also the sign of a team that doesn’t consistently set the bar high enough. The intensity, desire and compete level of the recently great B’s teams hasn’t been there on most nights.

That column is a reminder that, with all the scrappy talk, the Bruins still face considerable pressure to succeed.

On the bright side, the team and especially Rask seem to be responding to this challenge (at least so far).

Video: Sabres end skid, top Bruins


Anders Lindback made a season-high 44 saves and Tyler Ennis scored the shootout winner as the Buffalo Sabres upset the Boston Bruins 2-1 Tuesday night.

The win snapped a seven-game winless skid for the Sabres and was Buffalo’s first win over Boston this season (1-1-2).

“I thought we had a lot of chances today to score more goals and win the game,” said Boston’s lone goal scorer Loui Eriksson per NHL.com. “But, yeah, we need to find ways to score those goals too. We create a lot of chances, but when we get that chance we have to really focus to put it in too. That cost us the game. I thought we were the much better team today, and we just need to get better on that.”

Rasmus Ristolainen had the Sabres’ lone goal in regulation.

Boston leads Ottawa by four points for the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference and trails the Detroit Red Wings by four points for third spot in the Atlantic Division.

Tuukka Rask was a scratch due to “general soreness”. Claude Julien did not have an update on the goaltender post-game.

Niklas Svedberg made 23 saves in the loss.

The single point the Bruins picked up in the loss officially eliminated the Maple Leafs from playoff contention.

Bruins’ Rask out due to ‘general soreness’


Boston Bruins’ goaltender Tuukka Rask did not dress for tonight’s game against the Buffalo Sabres due to general soreness the club announced.

Rask, who made 36 saves in Boston’s 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday, is 29-17-10 this season to go along with a 2.26 G.A.A. and a .924 save percentage.

Jeremy Smith is backing up Niklas Svedberg tonight. The Bruins recalled Smith on an emergency basis earlier in the day.

The 25-year-old is 17-8-5 to go along with a 1.96 G.A.A. and a .936 save in 30 games with the Providence Bruins this season.

WATCH LIVE: Sabres at Bruins

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The Boston Bruins will look to add to their lead on the Ottawa Senators for the second wild card seed in the Eastern Conference when they play host to the lowly Buffalo Sabres tonight at TD Garden.

The Bruins currently have a five-point lead on the Sens heading into Tuesday night’s action.

Boston (36-23-10) will look to get back into the win column after having its five-game win streak snapped in a 2-0 loss to the Washington Capitals on Sunday night.

The Sabres meanwhile are still looking for their first win in March having lost seven straight dating back to Feb. 28.

Boston has won all three meetings between the two clubs this season and will look for a sweep of the season series tonight. Puck drop is at 7:30 p.m. ET and you can catch all the action on NBCSN or via NBCSports.com’s Live Extra.


Some relevant linkage for tonight’s affair:

Krejci nearing return, possibly this weekend

Caps nab shaggy shootout win vs. Sabres

Get your game notes: Sabres at Bruins

NHL on NBCSN: Bruins aim to complete sweep of Sabres

Get your game notes: Sabres at Bruins


Tonight on NBCSN, it’s the Boston Bruins hosting the Buffalo Sabres at 7:30 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:


• Last game (Sunday): WSH def. BOS 2-0 – BOS shut out for just the 4th time this season, second time vs. WSH.

• Both season-high 5-game winning streak and 11 straight games scoring first streak snapped.

• Despite the loss, the Bruins have been playing better hockey since Feb. 22. They are 8-2-1 in their last 11 games, and have closed the gap between themselves and teams just ahead.

• Bruins need this game: Of the Bruins 13 remaining games, 6 are against teams currently in playoff position. Another 4 are against teams in the playoff hunt, including Thursday’s matchup at OTT.

• Sabres slumping continues: Last game (Monday): WSH def. BUF 4-3 SO.

• Surrendered two 1-goal leads; allowed 2 PP goals.

• BUF has lost 7 straight games (0-5-2 record), while scoring 9 goals in their 6 games this month.

• If BUF finishes last overall, they will have a 20.0% chance of landing the first pick in the NHL draft.

• Scoring woes continue: Last season, BUF set an NHL record for the fewest goals in the expansion era of hockey dating to back to 1967 (150 goals; 1.83 g/gm). This season, Buffalo’s scoring is occurring at an even worse rate: 1.81 goals/gm (last in NHL).


• Lone All-Star and number-one center Zemgus Girgensons was placed on IR on February 26 after blocking a shot by CBJ defenseman James Wisniewski (since traded to ANA) off his right foot two days prior. Whether or not he will return this season is still to be determined.

• Girgensons’ injury, combined with the trade of veteran center Torrey Mitchell (to MTL), have left Buffalo without much depth (or production) amongst its 4 centers, though both Larsson (5 points in last 4 games) and Hodgson scored last night. With a PP goal Monday vs. WSH, Tyler Ennis now has 5 points (3G-2A) in his last 6 games since returning from a groin injury. He leads the team in goals (18), power-play goals (6), and points (38).

• Since Feb. 19, Matt Moulson has been the team’s most consistent scorer. He logged an assist vs. WSH, giving him 11 points (2G-9A) in the last 12 games.

• Chad Johnson (lower-body) was injured before he could make an appearance with the Sabres after being acquired at the trade deadline from NYI.

• This has made Anders Lindback the everyday goalie – he has started 5 of the 6 games in March, posting an 0-3-2 record, 2.70 GAA, and a .924 SV% in the month.

• Lindback has not won a game in which he has started this season (b/w DAL and BUF). In those 12 starts, he has a record of 0-10-2.

• His two wins this season both came in relief appearances with the Stars.

• In his last 2 starts combined, Lindback has stopped 66 of 70 shots faced (vs. NYR & vs. WSH).

• Should Matt Hackett be named the starter of this 2nd game of a back-to-back, he would be making just his 3rd start of the season.

• He was pulled after allowing 4 goals on 23 shots at WSH on March 7.

• This season: 0-2-0 record, 5.19 GAA, and a .867 SV%.

• In his only career start vs. BOS last season, he allowed 3 goals on 23 shots in the 4-1 loss.


• David Krejci took part in the team’s morning skate today. This is the first time he has skated with the team since suffering a partially torn MCL at STL on Feb. 20. Krejci is in the 4th week of a 4-6 week timetable that was originally given.

• Boston’s recent winning ways can be attributed to the team’s newfound production out of young forwards Ryan Spooner (3rd-year) and David Pastrnak (rookie).

• After being recalled on Feb. 21, Spooner has 9 points (3G-6A) in the last 11 games.

• Pastrnak now has 8 points (3G-5A) in the last 9 games. See chart below that shows his scoring outburst.

• 2014 1st-round pick (25th overall) and the youngest player in the NHL (May, 25, 1996 – 18 years old).

• Team-leading scorer Patrice Bergeron has also picked up the scoring load for BOS during this surge, logging 9 points (3G-6A), +4 rating in the last 11 games.

• Career vs. BUF: 32 points (9G, 23A) in 54 games.

• 3rd- year defenseman Dougie Hamilton is enjoying a career-year for BOS. For the second consecutive season, he has topped his previous amount of goals, assists, and points.

• Leads all BOS defensemen in points this season (40).

• Career vs. BUF: 9 points (5G-4A) in 11 games.

• Tuukka Rask’s strong goaltending of late has helped the Bruins stay in playoff position. In his last 9 starts, he has gone 6-2-1, with a 1.64 GAA, and a .949 SV%.

• Niklas Svedberg is expected to get the start in net vs. BUF.

• This season: 7-5-0 record, 2.43 GAA, and a .918 SV%.

• He’s won his last 2 starts (2.44 GAA, .929 SV%) at NJ (Feb. 27) and vs. DET (March 8).