The Bruins had a chance to put a chokehold on the first round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs Monday night at Air Canada Centre. Instead, with their backs against the wall, the Leafs prevailed, largely due to a spectacular, show-stealing performance by Maple Leafs netminder Frederik Andersen.
Andersen made 42 saves to keep Toronto in the series, including 18 third-period saves, some that were absolutely ridiculous. He stole that game for Toronto. Theft.
On the other side of the ice, not much of the same can be said. Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask allowed four goals on 30 shots, and while all of the goals cannot be pinned on him, blame must be assessed where credit is usually earned. Rask played a poor game and has continued a concerning trend for Bruins fans.
Rask posted stunning stats in the months of December and January, to the point where this skeptical writer had thought he might’ve turned a corner, but Rask has been playing subpar hockey for the better part of three months.
In the month of February, Rask posted mediocre stats, with a 2.50 GAA and .915 save percentage, and nearly identical stats in March, with a 2.49 GAA and .915 save percentage.
As the games kept piling up, Rask in his final three starts of the season, allowed 11 goals and a .887 save percentage. Those numbers in today’s game of hockey are atrocious.
The first game of the series provided Bruins fans with hope that Rask has sharpened his focus, and will finally perform at a high level, in order for the Bruins to make it deep in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Games two and three have been more of what we have seen recently from Rask.
Rask has allowed 7 goals the past two games, and an ugly save percentage of .889, simply not good enough.
While Rask is certainly not to blame for all of those seven goals, top of the line goaltenders steal games that you are not supposed to win. The Bruins outplayed Toronto in game 3, especially in the third period, when the Bruins outshot the Leafs, 18-7.
Not only is his recent play not up to par, Rask has shown an inability to stand up in clutch situations in the postseason. In career elimination games, Rask is 2-4, with a GAA of 3.17 and a save percentage of .892.
If the Bruins have to score 5 or 7 goals, like they did in games one and two, to advance further in the playoffs, that won’t be a successful recipe. Especially, if they face an elimination game.