BOSTON (CBS) – We all know that an injury like the one Tuukka Rask suffered earlier this month can take a psychological toll as well as a physical one.
If in the aftermath of that serious abdominal/groin strain Rask was watching in dismay along with the rest of the world’s Bruins backers as Tim Thomas looked rundown and the team seemed on a dangerous downward spiral, he can – and so can everyone else – breathe a sigh of relief.
Not only are the Boston Bruins winning again, they even found a way to do it without Thomas in net Sunday night.
In completing a Southern California sweep of a back-to-back with a victory over Anaheim Sunday, the Bruins rode the hot hand of Marty Turco – yes, that same Marty Turco – manning their crease. Previously Turco’s only appearances this season in pro hockey came against Austrian-league shooters and then a pair of debacles in Pittsburgh and Tampa. He had surrendered six goals on 34 shots before getting his second start of the season in a 3-2 win over Ducks.
Well, Turco put on his brand-new bright-yellow pads and looked reinvigorated in Anaheim with 25 saves on 27 shots. When Anaheim turned up the heat late, Turco was at his best with 13 saves on 14 shots in the third period. The 36-year-old got some help from a couple posts, and a correct but rarely seen enforcement of the goaltender-interference rule, and suddenly the Bruins were back to having two reliable goaltenders – crisis averted.
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As the Bruins have righted themselves and won four of five since their rare four-game losing streak, Thomas has been his old, fantastic self. He made 40 stops against Los Angeles Saturday in the first-half of Boston’s back-to-back conquest of SoCal. Not only has Thomas been making a high volume of saves, he’s been making the type of stops that leave you shaking your head.
Still, a string 15 straight games can take its toll on even the most dynamic goaltenders. The Bruins knew they needed to get Thomas some rest some time. They could’ve waited until depth-chart No. 3 netminder Anton Khudobin was ready to come up from the Providence farm club. But fresh off putting Saturday’s two points in their pockets, head coach Claude Julien opted to roll the dice with Turco against the Ducks.
Early on it was apparent Julien had made the right choice. And once the final horn sounded, no one could doubt the coach’s decision to give Thomas a night off. Not only did Thomas get a rest against the Ducks, he gets to relax during the Bruins’ trip home Monday afternoon.
Plus, regardless of Rask or Khudobin’s status going forward, the Bruins can have confidence the next time they feel Thomas needs a night off. Now we know Thomas will be fresh come the postseason.
If the Bruins go deep into May and/or June with Thomas once again carrying the goaltending load, we might be able to point to Turco’s unexpected heroics for helping them get there.