From an outsiders perspective the city of Boston always seems to have an intense love-hate relationship with Tuukka Rask.
Objectively speaking, he has mostly been a top-tier goalie ever since he started getting the bulk of the playing time for the Bruins, and the team has been extremely successful during his tenure. But because that play hasn’t resulted in him backstopping the team to a championship he always seems to be one of the scape goats for when things go wrong.
In the end, though, no matter what anybody thinks of him or his career he is still one of the most successful goalies the team has ever had, and with his 24-save shutout against the Washington Capitals on Sunday afternoon he recorded his 253rd career win.
That win moves into sole possession of first place on the franchise’s all-time wins list, passing Hall of Famer Tiny Thompson who played with the team between the 1928 and 1939 seasons.
Along with the historical significance for Rask, it was also a huge win for the Bruins who had won just one of their previous six games entering the day as they look to secure a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. The win also snapped what had been a 14-game losing streak against the Capitals, a streak that went all the way back to the 2014 season.
Overall it was a strong effort by the Bruins as they peppered Capitals goalie Braden Holtby with 39 shots and were constantly swarming around the net. They still have some questions and issues when it comes to their depth scoring, but if they can play like they did on Sunday they are going to be a tough team to beat moving forward. Had it not been for Holtby’s brilliance in the Washington net this game probably could have gotten out of hand in the Bruins’ favor.
Holtby was so good for the Capitals that it took a perfect passing play and a perfect shot from David Krejci to finally beat him mid-way through the second period.
As for the Capitals, well, they are still stuck in this midseason lull that has now seen them drop eight out of their past nine games.
While it looks like a positive step forward to hold a team to only a single goal after some of their recent performances defensively this was not a particularly strong effort. The play of Holtby was the only reason this game remained as close as it did, and at one point the Bruins held a commanding 30-12 edge in shots on goal and were just controlling the game in all phases. So they still have a long way to go to get back to the level they have played at in recent years, and especially a year ago when they won the Stanley Cup.
Still, even with this latest slump they still sit only four points out of first place in the Metropolitan Division (they are currently tied for the second spot with the Pittsburgh Penguins) but definitely missed an opportunity to gain some ground on Sunday.