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).