Tag Archives: Montreal Canadiens

Flaherty: Is Tuukka Rask’s The Right Goaltender For Boston?

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Tuukka Rask has been up and down in the postseason, but can he eventually put it all together to lead Boston to a Stanely Cup? (PHOTO CREDIT: SportsOnEarth.com)

By Dan Flaherty (@TheSportsNotebo)

It was the moment that defined the Boston Bruins’ recently concluded series with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Charlie McAvoy gets pulled down. The obvious penalty goes uncalled and leaves Steven Stamkos wide open. The Lightning star promptly rips the goal that tied Game 4 past Tuukka Rask. And the series essentially ended there, and the questions rose anew about whether Rask is the right man in net if this young Bruins team is going to win a Stanley Cup next season or beyond.

Critics of Rask point to moments like the Stamkos goal in Game 4. They’re not being unreasonable.

In the immediate aftermath of that particular goal, I looked toward my friend, who I was watching the game with and said something to the effect of how it wasn’t a bad play by Rask, but one that if you have Stanley Cup aspirations, you need your goalie to step up and make.

That’s not the first time such sentiments have come up with regard to the Bruin goalie. Consider the recent history:

  • It wasn’t Tuukka’s fault that Boston lost to Ottawa in the first round of last year’s playoffs. The Senators defense made them a better first-round opponent than anyone gave them credit for—as evidenced by the fact Ottawa Senators took eventual champion Pittsburgh to double-overtime in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Finals. But Rask was outplayed by counterpart Craig Anderson.
  • It wasn’t Tuukka’s fault that Boston dropped a seven-game series to Montreal Canadiens in 2014, ending the best Bruins season in recent memory. They must have set a record for most shots to hit the pipe in a single playoff series, which is a sure sign that it’s not your year. But Rask was undeniably outplayed by Carey Price.
  • And it wasn’t Tuukka’s fault for the infamous collapse in Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals, when the Chicago Blackhawks scored two goals in the final two minutes and celebrated on the Garden ice. But like the Stamkos goal this year, it was an area where it’s reasonable to hope for your goalie to bail out the defense in the closing minutes.

Good but not good enough would be the simple summation of the bill of indictment drafted by the Rask critics. Particularly given that his $7.5 million annual salary makes him higher-paid than any goalie still playing and third-highest in the league overall.

I see the argument of the anti-Rask forces, but the question has to be asked about what exactly the point of their criticisms are. If it’s simply that Tuukka still has unfinished business on his resume before he can be considered in the pantheon of all-time greats, I agree. But if it’s something deeper—like cutting loose his salary and going with Anton Khudobin, I’d have to sharply disagree.

Any litany of Tuukka’s shortcomings has to be balanced with a litany of his postseason successes:

  • Save percentage is a great stat and I rely on it, but it doesn’t tell the whole story. A good example is Tuukka’s 89.9% save rate in the first-round series win over Toronto. If you just look at the numbers, that’s not good. But if you watched the series you saw how many shots were coming at home from point-blank range. The bigger story was how often Bruin defenders were beaten to a good spot near the net—and how often Rask bailed them out.
  • There aren’t many goaltenders good enough to single-handedly win you a playoff series. But that’s what Rask did in 2014, in the first-round series win over Detroit.
  • Even fewer goaltenders can do what Rask did in 2013, which was to essentially shut down the potent Pittsburgh Penguins lineup, filled with quite a few of the same players who won the last two Stanley Cups. Boston’s sweep of Pittsburgh in that ‘13 Finals was defined by Rask’s superiority.

What these successes (above) illustrate is that while Tuukka Raask may have some spots on his postseason resume, he’s not the NHL equivalent of David Price. Tuukka doesn’t fold up in the biggest moments, he just hasn’t quite gotten over the hump.

So the question that has to be asked of Rask critics is simply this: do you think it more likely that Rask will finally have the one great postseason where he takes it start to finish and wins a Stanley Cup. Or, on the other hand, if the Bruins do move on, that we’ll find that Khudobin won’t be able to handle a full-time workload and we’ll have a full-scale goalie mess on?

I think the answer to that question is self-evident.

The grass isn’t always greener on the other side. All we know for sure is that Tuukka Rask isn’t the second coming of Patrick Roy or Martin Broduer when it comes to playoff performance. But Rask is still better than an awful lot of goalies who have won Stanley Cups.

Dan Flaherty is the owner of TheSportsNotebook.com and the author of Great 1980s Sports Moments

Daily Noontime – February 16, 2012

Tyler Seguin's shootout goal lifted the Bruins past the Canadiens, 4-3 on Wednesday! (Photo Credit: ProHockeyTalk.com/NBC Sports)

By NoontimeSports.com

Good Thursday to everyone, and welcome into yet another spectacular rendition of the Daily Noontime! Here’s what’s brewing in Boston and New England, enjoy.

* The Boston Bruins kicked-off their six-game road trip with a 4-3 shootout win against Montreal on Wednesday, which helped the Black and Gold earn their third win in February. Tyler Seguin was the hero in this particular matchup, as he directed the puck past Carey Price, (31 saves) to help the Bruins earn their final season series victory against the Canadiens. Boston will return to the ice on Friday when they travel to Winnipeg for an 8:00pm face-off.

* Detroit handed the Boston Celtics their 13th loss of the season, as the Pistons defeated the Green and White at the TD Garden on Wednesday, 98-88. Rajon Rondo paced the Celtics with 35 points, while Paul Pierce and Ray Allen turned in 10 points a piece. Kevin Garnett did not play due to a hip injury, too. Boston will look to rebound on Thursday when they travel to Chicago to face the Bulls for an 8:00pm tip-off.

* In college hoops on Wednesday, New Hampshire edged Boston University’s men’s basketball team, 56-54, while Holy Cross defeated Lafayette, 70-63.

* Finally, former Harvard standout and New York Knick, Jeremy Lin helped the Blue and Orange earn their seventh consecutive victory on Wednesday when they defeated Sacramento, 100-85. Lin finished the game with 10 points, 13 assists and five rebounds.

Daily Noontime – January 13, 2012

Jordan Caron scored Boston's first goal on Thursday against Montreal! (Photo Credit: SportsOfBoston.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Happy Friday the 13th all, and welcome into another tremendous edition of the Daily Noontime!

We’re t-minus one-day way from the New England-Denver rematch, and while we count down the hours, minutes and seconds, here are some headlines and news, which will keep you busy.

* Jordan Caron and Benoit Pouliot scored both Boston goals, while Tim Thomas recorded 33 saves between the pipes, as the Bruins defeated the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday at the TD Garden, 2-1.The Black and Gold have now won two of their last three contests, and will return to the ice on Saturday evening when they travel to Carolina.

* After his team defeated the Canadiens, Tyler Seguin expressed his excitement about being selected to the NHL All-Star game in Ottawa, Ontario. Seguin attended the festivities last year as a rookie, but this year, he’ll suit up with other all-stars.

* The Boston Celtics will host the 10-2 Chicago Bulls on Friday, and certainly, the Green and White will look to rebound from their loss on Wednesday against the Dallas Mavericks.

* ESPN’s NFL Live predicted the outcome for Saturday’s Broncos-Patriots AFC Divisional clash, and according to former New York Jets and Kansas City Chiefs head coach Herm Edwards, New England will win.

Daily Noontime – January 12, 2012

Rajon Rondo led the Green and White with 24 points against the Mavericks. (Photo Credit: Dimemag.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Good Thursday morning to all, and welcome into another stupendous edition of the Daily Noontime!

Here are some headlines and news to jumpstart your day!

* The Boston Celtics came within five points of the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, who defeated the Green and White, 90-85 at the TD Garden. Rajon Rondo paced the Celtics with 24 points, while Kevin Garnett recorded 16 points and 10 rebounds. Boston will return to the hardwood on Friday when they host the Chicago Bulls.

* According to ESPNBoston.com – New England Patriots director of personnel Jason Licht is expected to interview for the Chicago Bears general manager position, which is currently vacant.

* Montreal will invade the TD Garden on Thursday evening, and despite sitting in 12th place in the Eastern Conference, Boston knows that the Canadiens will be a difficult task. Also, the Bruins announced on Wednesday that Marc Savard would donate a suite for the remainder of the current season, as well as through the completion of the 2013-14 season for Children’s Hospital Boston pediatric patients.

* In college basketball last night, UMass defeated Charlotte, 85-75, Boston University overwhelmed Maine, 77-68, Northeastern edged Hofstra, 64-62, and Holy Cross earned their eighth win of the season, as they beat Navy, 73-69.  

Daily Noontime – January 11, 2012

Nathan Horton scored two goals on Tuesday, which helped the Bruins defeat the Jets, 5-3! (Photo Credit: Zimbio.com)

By NoontimeSports.com 

Good Wednesday morning to all, and welcome into yet another tremendous edition of the Daily Noontime! Here are some of the day’s headlines and news, enjoy.

* Without left-winger Brad Marchand in the line-up, the Boston Bruins managed to pick up an important win against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday evening. Nathan Horton netted two of the team’s five goals, while Tuukka Rask recorded 29 saves between the pipes. The Bruins will enjoy a day of rest, and then welcome the Montreal Canadiens to the TD Garden on Thursday for a 7:00pm face-off.

* According to an article from ESPNBoston.com – Marchand expressed that he wasn’t happy to fork over $152,439.02. He also admitted that he was quite shocked that he was handed a five-game suspension, too.

* Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow told New England and Boston reporters that he admires Tom Brady, and certainly believes he can learn from him. Tebow was quoted for saying, “He’s been one of the best in the business and he’ll definitely go down as one of the best. My hat is off to him and his career and how great of a quarterback he’s been and good for him.”

* It’s been a few days since the Boston Celtics last played basketball, but on Wednesday, they’ll host the defending NBA champion Dallas Mavericks, who have won four of their last five contests. The Celtics winning streak was snapped last week when the Indiana Pacers handed them an 87-74 victory.

* Despite an interesting 34 minutes, Harvard’s men’s basketball team somehow prevailed, as the Crimson defeated Monmouth, 70-61.

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