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Tuukka Rask, Bruins Ready for Bounce-Back Game

by Caryn Switaj / Boston Bruins

BostonBruins.com - Tuukka Rask likes to get right back it after a tough loss.

Wednesday night in Toronto qualified as that, with the netminder being replaced by Niklas Svedberg at just 3:32 into the second period after the Bruins fell down 4-0 in an eventual 6-1 loss.

There wasn't much help in front of him, with the Bruins all agreeing that the only thing they did together as a team on Wednesday was play poorly.

He had entered the game with a 10-2-0 record against Toronto, along with a 1.59 goals-against average and .954 save percentage.

"It wasn’t my best night, it wasn’t the team’s best night, and we just have to live with that and move on," Rask told reporters in Toronto.

On Thursday night, he sat and watched from the backup seat at the Bell Centre as the Bruins were scorched again, this time 5-1, at the hands of the Canadiens.

The Bruins got back to work on Friday at Ristuccia Arena in Wilmington, Mass., and after practice, Rask was asked if felt helpless watching the game unfold.

"[Helpless] just to watch? Yeah. But you know what, we always try to make the decisions based on what’s best for the team, and I played for whatever, five or six games in a row, and it was always the plan that Sveddy’s going to play that game," said a level-headed Rask.

"We didn’t change that plan, and why would we? We trust everybody on the team."

Rask has had his issues against the Canadiens, with a 3-11-3 record, .902 save percentage and 2.80 goals-against average in 18 appearances.

The level-headed netminder may have wanted the nod - to both bounce back from his game in Toronto, and help try to defeat his Bell Centre demons - but he also respects the plan, and the coaching staff's decision-making. So, his bounce-back game had to wait.

"I’ve said before, I want to play every game," Rask said. "But, obviously you want to get Sveddy games, too, and I have no problem with that."

"It’s still fairly early in the season and I’m still going to get more chances to improve my record against them. Everybody always talks about Montreal — it’s a big game and everything, but we just take it as a regular game and try to play our hockey, and so it’s not a big deal for me that I didn’t play and get a chance to bounce back."

"I know I’m going to get a bounce-back game [Saturday], and feel good about myself."

The Bruins host the Carolina Hurricanes at TD Garden on Saturday in a 1:00 p.m. matinee. Both Rask and the team will be looking to rebound in a big way.

"Tuukka had played five games going into Toronto purposely - I think we had some good gaps there between games," Head Coach Claude Julien said following Friday's practice. "At the same time, you give your No. 1 goalie a chance to get into the rhythm."

"So we had planned that, and we won most of those games. Toronto was an off night for him, so I pulled him, so there was no way he was going to play two in two after playing five straight games."

The game in Montreal marked Svedberg's first career start against the rival Habs. Through the first 20 minutes, with the Bruins up 1-0, Svedberg was one of their best players. He stoned Max Pacioretty point-blank in the final minute of the first to keep the lead.

The Bruins then unraveled in the final 40 minutes. If there's a way for a goaltender to play a strong game in a 5-1 loss, Thursday was that for Svedberg. The first four goals let in came off a penalty shot, turnover, miscommunication behind the net between defensemen and trouble on a breakout. He faced 34 shots on the night.

Of course, Svedberg would be the first to say he should have made the saves, but the defensive layers just weren't there for the Bruins.

"Obviously we were way too loose and way too many breakdowns in our own zone, giving them shots in the slot," a frustrated Dennis Seidenberg said on Thursday night in Montreal after being on the ice for three goals against.

"I mean, we didn't help out Sveddy at all. Had a good first period and after that, it was just not good enough."

"It doesn’t matter what the reason is; our goalie [Thursday] night did what he had to do," said Julien. "And he made some big saves. We’re up 1-0 after one because he makes a big save. In the second, he made some big saves. He was good. So that’s what you expect out of your other goaltender. He’s got to be able to come in and do the job sometimes."

"We didn’t do the job in front of him."

Rask will eventually have a chance to turn his confidence around at the Bell Centre. For now, he's focused on helping the team turn around its confidence after back-to-back losses and an inconsistent start to the season that has seen them struggle with producing 60-minute efforts.

"I felt confident before the game [about the team]. Everybody was focused, and the first period was really good," said Rask. "Then after it starts snowballing the wrong way, it’s tough to watch, especially in Montreal. I’ve been there a lot of times on the bench looking at that when I was the backup, and it’s never fun."

The goaltender's hoping the team can re-find its toughness in the slot and around the net.

"We need to clear out those pucks and bodies, and in the past, we’ve been one of the best teams in the League to do that," said Rask. "And obviously lately that hasn’t been the case."

The Bruins had won seven of eight and five straight heading into Toronto and Montreal.

Their next stretch includes games at home against Carolina and St. Louis before heading to Columbus to face the Blue Jackets. They cap off the week by hosting the Habs at TD Garden next Saturday.

"It’s going to be a really big test for us," said Rask. "It’s going to be tough and we really need to play solid hockey and get back to our style of hockey for 60 minutes and not just 20 minutes."

"It’s really going to show us where we stand against good teams. St. Louis is a really good team, Carolina’s playing good, so it’s a really good test for us, and usually when we’re challenged, we’re pretty good. So hopefully that’s the case."

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