In the third and final positional preview for the Boston Bruins leading up to their series against the Flyers that starts later today, my focus is the duo of goaltenders in Beantown. Goaltending, as always, will likely have a profound effect on this series. Fortunately for Boston, they look pretty darn solid between the pipes.
Starter: Tuukka Rask
Back-up: Tim Thomas
Who to watch in goal for the Bruins:
1. Tuukka Rask. Just like the Flyers fans love to shower their goalie with cheers of “Booooooshhhh,” the same situation is true in Boston. Game after game in the regular season, and now the playoffs, chants of “Tuuuuuuukkkkkkkk” bombard the ice at TD Banknorth Garden. Chances are, if the Flyers are hearing that infamous call, things are going Boston’s way – at least for the moment. Rask enters this series as the starting goaltender – a job he claimed down the stretch of the regular season, dethroning the reigning Vezina Trophy winning Tim Thomas in the process. On one hand, it speaks volumes to the depth the Bruins have in net, in that they have a goaltender in Thomas, who is one year removed from being the best goaltender in the NHL, backing up Rask. On the other hand, it speaks volumes to just how well Rask has played that he now has the starting job in Boston. In the first round of the playoffs, Rask ranked towards the top of the charts with a 2.18 goals against average, and a .930 save percentage – two big reasons why the Bruins were able to upset the Buffalo Sabres. However, for Boston to be successful in round two, they will need more of the same from Rask against a Flyers team that likes to shoot from everywhere at any time. Rask has proven himself to be more than capable of shouldering the load in Beantown, and likely has paved the way for Boston to dispose of Tim Thomas in the off-season, but the sky can fall down upon a goaltender quickly. As much as Thomas says he is enjoying being a cheerleader right now for the Bruins, don’t think he won’t attempt to take full advantage of re-claiming the starting job, if given the opportunity. That being said, Tuukka Rask has played exceptionally well for Boston and is the main reason they are in their current spot. I’d be shocked if we saw a drop in his game, but it would behoove the Flyers to try to get as many pucks to the net as they can early on in this series. That way, it’ll be up to Rask to prove his worth. Remember, Rask has shown an immature side to himself before, so hopefully the Flyers can try to rattle him and make that side appear once again.
Statistical Leaders for the Bruins Goaltenders in the Stanley Cup Playoffs
GAMES STARTED: Tuukka Rask (6)
MINUTES: Rask (385)
WINS: Rask (4)
GOALS AGAINST: Rask (2.18)
SAVE PERCENTAGE: Rask (.930)
SHUTOUTS: NO ONE