Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask was pulled after two periods after he allowed three goals on 15 shots Monday. (Winslow Townson/USA Today Sports)
Little made sense in a 4-0 loss to the cellar-dwelling Islanders Monday. One call that did make sense for the Bruins, however, was head coach Claude Julien’s decision to pull Tuukka Rask after the second period.
Rask, like most Bruins, did not have his best game.
And though it wasn’t entirely his fault (perhaps with the exception of the second Islander goal, which was scored off a bad angle shot from Josh Bailey that Rask should have sealed off), Rask didn’t help the Black and Gold with just 12 stops in total before given the hook.
“You’ve got to do something, right? I let in that weak one, the second goal,” Rask said of his early exit. “But the coaches always have to do whatever they can to get the team going and that’s it.”
Of course, the 29-year-old’s worst stretch was also the team’s worst stretch, as the B’s blew assignment after assignment while Rask allowed three goals on six shots in a 5:20 stretch late in the second period. But it wasn’t the only reason that he was replaced by Zane McIntyre for the third period of what became a clear throwaway game.
“Well there’s two things that can happen,” Julien said, “number one, you hope you can spark your team, because of the performance in front of him, and if it doesn’t spark your team, you’re not wasting your number one goaltender’s energy.”
The former didn’t happen for Julien and the Bruins, but the latter could prove invaluable.
If you look at where the league is trending or trended over the last few seasons, the Bruins will likely need at least 95 points to qualify for postseason play. They’re at 51 points through 47 games played, and the simple math tells you that they’re in need of about 44 points over the final 35 games to make the postseason. More simple math tells you that’s about 22 wins. And with the way that the Black and Gold have played this year with backups in net — the Bruins have just one victory in 11 games started by a trio of backups this season — you can expect Rask to have be in net for almost all 22 of those wins.
But it won’t matter who’s in net for the Bruins if the team continues to no-show against bottom of the barrel teams.
“You need to bring that emotion and work ethic every night. Doesn’t matter if it’s road or home. On the road we seem to do that every night,” Rask said of the team’s hot-and-cold nature and struggles at TD Garden. “At home for some reason, we play a good game, an emotional game and then we lack it in the next one and the results are what they were tonight.
“It’s like a broken record; we have to fix it. Or otherwise it won’t be good.”
That would mean a third straight burnout by both the goaltender and team and without a playoff berth to show for their exhausting efforts.