Where’s Tuukka?

by

tuukka rask bruins goalie

The Globe reports that Tim Thomas was the first goalie off the ice this morning, usually a guaranteed indicator of who will be starting the evening game.

It begs the question, if Tuukka Rask is healthy, that is. What exactly is Claude Julien doing with his starting goaltending situation at this, the most critical juncture of the season?

This is no time to be experimenting or attempting to foster competition amongst his netminders, if that’s the case this evening. Granted, Thomas was excellent in the B’s 5-0 shutout of Calgary at home on Saturday but one game does not a season make. It had become clear to absolutely everyone before that that Tuukka Rask had taken over the number one job in Boston and was providing the stability in net the team desperately needed down the stretch with a playoff berth very much in question.

Rask’s numbers, by the way, leave his position as the team’s current and future starter very much not in question. His GAA of 2.11 lead the entire NHL and his saves percentage of .927 is just a couple thousandths behind Ryan Miller for the league lead in that category, as well.

So why aren’t the two facing each other tonight?

Is it just that the Bruins are playing two games in two nights, heading to New Jersey after the Sabres game, and Julien feels like he’s going to have to use them both, so why not go with Thomas tonight and hope to ride a little hot streak? I feel like it’s too much of a gamble right now, to be honest. I mean, if that was the thinking, then Tuukka should have started against Calagry, right? Why would you want your back-up goalie stating two games in a row?

The bottom line is it’s no time to be wishy washy about your Number One, with so few games left and the team hanging onto the final playoff spot in the East with ragged claws. Julien is leaving himself wide open for criticism should the move backfire on him and Thomas, as has been the pattern in this inconsistent season he’s having, falter tonight and play a less than stellar game.

This should be a match-up of the league’s two best goalies at the Garden this evening and, with all due respect to Tim Thomas, it’s not. He may be the reigning Vezina winner but the simple fact is that he is no longer the best goalie on his team. Period. To most hockey devotees in Boston, it’s clear that Tuukka Time has arrived and whatever post-season hopes the Bruins have rest squarely on his Finnish shoulders.

Whether or not Claude Julien agrees with that seems somewhat in question at the moment.

And that’s not a good thing, folks.

_

Update: Hate to say “I told ya so…”

At 6:08 of the second period, with the Bruins down 3-1, Claude Julien came to grips with the realization that every idiot on the streets of Boston (and this idiot earlier in the day right here) told him about and tried to make him understand prior to tonight’s game. That starting Tim Thomas for the second straight game was ill-advised at best and borderline insane at worst.

The overwhelming applause from the crowd when the switch was made might have been the first clue that everyone besides Julien had this one figured out long before the change became embarrassingly necessary. Nothing against Thomas, who we all like and who wasn’t at fault for all three goals, but it could not be more obvious who belongs in net for this team down the stretch and who should have started tonight against the Sabres.

Early in the second period, Julien tried to correct his mistake.

Desperate much, Claude?

Good. Because this one’s on your head.

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