The dust has settled in the NHL and the Boston Bruins are going to the Stanley Cup Final. They’ll be playing the St. Louis Blues in a rematch of the 1970 Stanley Cup Final. This is St. Louis’s first trip back since that game. Meanwhile, this is Boston’s first Finals appearance since they lost in Game 6 to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013. That was the infamous game in which Tuukka Rask gave up two goals in 17 seconds. It was a heart-wrenching succession that Bruins fans have had to live with ever since. To this day my Chicago friends will still bring it up just to get under my skin. But this isn’t 2013, and this isn’t the same Tuukka Rask.
The Great Wall of Rask
Rask has played great all season, going 27-13-5 in 46 games played with a GAA of 2.48 for a .912 save percentage. In the playoffs he’s now 12-5 with a 1.84 GAA and .942 save percentage. In other words, thus far, Tuukka Rask has been a brick wall. He’s provided an energetic spark of confidence for the rest of the team and it shows. The “Perfect Line” of Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, and David Pastrnak have been just that lately, though it took some time to get there. In the first round against Toronto, Coach Bruce Cassidy was switching Pastrnak back and forth between lines, trying to get him into a rhythm and get him productive again. Thankfully, Rask’s performance in net allowed the time for such tinkering, and ultimately it has paid off.
Game 1 is set for Monday, May 27, at 8 pm EST. By the time the final series of the season begins, the Bruins will have had an eleven day break. There’s always a concern of a hot team cooling with that much time off. In fact, this post season every team coming off a sweep has lost the following series. That’s not a stat that bodes well for the Black and Gold, but this team is different. Instead, this time off will give Captain Zdeno Chara some time to heal (he sat during Game 4 of the Eastern Conference Final with an undisclosed injury), and give Tukka Rask a bit of well-earned rest.
Boston’s not the only team with a break, however. The Blues will have had five days off before they take the ice in Game 1. Bruins Coach Cassidy has stated that he met with the New England Patriots to discuss techniques for handling a long break before playing a championship game. He refused to disclose what was said, but if anyone had proper advice for this situation it would be the Patriots. With that experience in their corner, all four lines coming alive, and the stellar play of Tuukka Rask of late, the Boston Bruins could well be on their way to hoist the Cup once again. Boston doesn’t have names like Orr, Esposito, Sanderson, or Cheevers this time, but they have Bergeron, Marchand, Pastrnak, and Rask. Perhaps the Big Bad Bruins are back and the rematch ends with the same result.