Friday night’s 6-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings was disappointing but not entirely surprising. Detroit called the game against the Bruins a measuring stick but for the Bruins the game was far from that. The team that showed up was not the Boston Bruins.
The Bruins were not physical, they were not engaged and they were not emotional. After the emotional charged victory against the Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday night, the let down Friday was far from shocking as the Bruins seemed to be running on fumes.
“Well it definitely takes a lot of concentration and preparation to kind of walk away from the game before, just like a bad loss. You do almost the exact same thing where you have to just kind of leave it behind you and clear your mind and prepare for the next one. So obviously it looks like we didn’t do a good enough job of that, so especially against a good team it’s going to look really bad,” said Andrew Ference.
On the surface there was cause for concern. Letting up twelve goals in two games is not what one would expect from the Bruins this season but the team did not play especially strong defense in either contest nor did they get strong goaltending. Both Thomas and Price were perhaps caught watching the action unfold in front of them Wednesday and a rusty Tuukka Rask never found a rhythm against a struggling yet still extremely talented Detroit team.
The real test for the Bruin comes Sunday in their rematch against Detroit. The Bruins have a golden opportunity to come out and show once again that the team that took the ice Friday is not who the true Boston Bruins are and that when they play their game, they can hang with any team, including the Detroit Red Wings.
“Exactly. You don’t like to sit around too much. Sunday at twelve-thirty we have to be ready and be a lot different team. Show them what the Boston Bruins are really made of and make a good game of it,” said Recchi.
Rask obviously is not getting the playing time necessary to develop a good rhythm and with the way Thomas is playing that should not come as a surprise. The issue for the young goaltender is that he has not made the best of his opportunities when he does start, largely due to the team in front of him not showing up. If there was cause for concern coming out of that ugly loss it was whether or not Rask’s confidence is shaken given what has happened to him this season but Thomas says the young goalie’s mindset continues to be strong.
“I think it’s been pretty good. It’s been the victim of a lot of bad breaks and a lot of kind-of curveballs for a lack of effort, but he’s kept a good attitude and kept positive all through. Everyone in here still knows he’s… I shouldn’t have to say it, but he’s a great goalie and he won the last game he played. This wasn’t a fair picture to take any judgment from any position on the team,” said Thomas.
Rask has been the victim of some horrendous play by the Bruins skaters but what concerns coaches is Rask’s failure to step up and perhaps steal a game or two when he does start.
“…we need Tuukka to come in and give Timmy some rest and we need Tuukka to play well because we know he can play well,” said head coach Claude Julien. “Tonight was a tough night for him. The last time he played, he was very good for us, so he’s capable of it. I think we’ll just chalk that up as a tough night like the rest of the team in front of him and move on.”
An encouraging sign, however, is that Rask has handled his struggles, and the struggles of his teammates in front of him, in stride without pointing fingers or blaming his teammates. Rask was the first to admit that his start against the Red Wings was far from his best. When asked if he would have liked to play the the third period, he admitted that may not have been the best idea.
“I’m not going to start analyzing that. I thought I deserved to get pulled. I didn’t play to my level today,” Rask said.
The rematch Sunday gives Boston the opportunity to get back some respect and if their recent play is any indication, they will respond in a big way. Boston is at their best when they are physical and engaged and after spending all day Saturday stewing about their horrendous performance, look for Boston to come out with a chip on their shoulder Sunday.