- James Murphy, Bruins reporter, ESPNBoston.com
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BOSTON -- The Bruins have been searching for consistency as they try to recapture their identity in time for the Stanley Cup playoffs. But one hallmark of consistency recently has been the goaltending of Tuukka Rask.
Throw away the relief appearance he made in the 5-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers on Tuesday, because no goalie was going to stop the bleeding of another mental collapse by the Bruins there. What can't be ignored, though, is that with a 30-save shutout in the Bruins' 2-0 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning Thursday, Rask has two shutouts in his past two starts.
"It's important for him, obviously, and what we've been through, I think a lot of players right now, you still see certain guys fighting the puck a little bit, but at the end of the day, your goaltender plays a big role in your success," head coach Claude Julien said of his goalie's recent play. "A game like tonight, if we don't have good goaltending, the minute you get a breakdown the puck could be in the back of your net. You need a guy to stand tall and be good, and you need a guy to go into the playoffs with confidence; hopefully that's what Tuukka's creating here."
Regardless of the inconsistency in front of him, Rask seems to be entering the zone that a team needs its goalie to be in for the playoffs. An even-keel approach is crucial for a goalie, and Rask is doing his best to fall back into that mindset.
"It's huge," Rask, who is now 19-9-4 with a 1.97 goals-against average and .930 save percentage, said. "I think for a goalie really the biggest challenge always is to play your style and trust in your instincts. You have to play the game the way you always play it, no matter how each game goes. If you have a bad game, you have to go to [the] next game, and it's a challenge to not change anything, but you have to stay with your game still. That's the challenge. Right now, I think I'm able to do that, and I'm looking forward to that challenge in the playoffs."
As for the shutouts, Rask is just happy to have his game where it needs to be to help his team win and build confidence going into the playoffs.
"It's better than letting in five or six goals, for sure," Rask joked. "I don't know. Every game is different. Sometimes you just get the bounces. Today, they had a post or two. Sometimes, the puck just bounces your way, and sometimes it doesn't. I just try to feel good about myself every single game and feel comfortable out there. If it's a shutout or not, it doesn't matter as long as you play good and you win like today."
9dJoe McDonald and Kyle Brasseur