– Entering Saturday afternoon’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers at TD Garden, the Bruins had allowed 10 goals over their previous three games. Defensively, the B’s had slipped a bit and talked before the game about trying to play more to their system.
They succeeded, allowing just 23 shots – 12 over the first two periods, the lowest total allowed through two this season – all of which Tuukka Rask stopped for his 13th career shutout, in the Black & Gold’s 3-0 victory over Philly.
Rask called today’s defensive effort “the best so far this year” and credited his teammates in front of him for clearing the way for him to see any rubber that came his way.
“I think I saw pretty much every puck,” said Rask, who improved to 12-2-3 on the year. “They didn’t have many shots before the last, I don’t know, 10, 15 minutes. But, overall we did a great job clearing those pucks out.”
The Flyers turned it on a bit in the third – partly because of two power plays – and tallied 11 shots on goal. Rask showed no rust, however, and held the Flyers scoreless to cap off the shutout.
“I think I counted four times when we didn’t get the puck out, so Tuukka had to bail us out with some good saves,” said B’s Head Coach Claude Julien after the game. “But that will hopefully keep them sharp.”
“It’s never easy but whenever you don’t get that many shots in the game, it’s kind of mentally tougher to start sharp.” added Rask. “But when they got those shots, I felt pretty comfortable since they weren’t like riding the slot or anything like that.
“So, it wasn’t too bad, but it always helps to find your rhythm early and get in the game early.”
Shawn Thornton said that in addition to Tuukka’s play, blocked shots – the Bruins had 18 – and clouding up shooting lanes was also key to the B’s shutdown defense.
“Tuukka played really well,” said Thornton, who had a fight and an assist in the game. “I think everyone did. There was a lot of blocked shots out there, guys were getting in lanes. I think we did a good job of getting the puck going the other way as quickly as possible too. That helped.”
Tyler Seguin’s blocked shot late in the third period also helped preserve Rask’s shutout, after the B’s backstop had come way out to the slot to swat the puck away and prevent a Flyers shorthanded breakaway opportunity. No. 19 made a full out dive to stop the puck from heading into an open net.
“Oh, that was Tyler?” asked Rask, when he found out Seguin was the one who bailed him out, since he hadn't seen which of his teammates kept the shutout alive. “It was great. He was telling me he would have caught the guy when I sprinted out of the net.
“But, it’s good to see he’s got my back and he’s got those goalie skills too. I don’t think they marked a save for us. I think that should be a save, right?”
Coach Julien said making plays in the defensive zone is something that Seguin is starting to take more and more pride in.
“People are starting to talk more about that part of his game as well,” said the B’s bench boss. “That save right there, a great backcheck from a broken play, maybe a week ago or so he did the same thing when a defenseman had a broken stick – he dove and broke a play up.
“He said it himself, he’s starting to take some pride in that part of his game as well. Those are good things to hear because every coach likes a good two-way player. We certainly don’t want to take the offensive part of his game away, but any time he can help us out on the other end is a bonus.”
Overall, Julien was glad to see his team play better defensively, but he’s not ready to say the B’s are all the way back to being the team they normally are in their own end.
“Tonight we were [better], but I don’t know if I can say back on track until I see it on a consistent basis,” explained Julien. “Today was probably the first day that I felt much better about our game without the punk in our defensive zone. We didn’t give much.
“They didn’t have a ton of scoring chances, and obviously we’ve got two tough games [coming up]. Ottawa, who’s playing extremely well, still, and Pittsburgh on the road. We’ll need that kind of game to win those.”