BOSTON (CBS) — Bruins head coach Claude Julien knows not to pump his goaltender’s tires just four games into the Stanley Cup playoffs.
After Tuukka Rask stopped 45 of 48 Toronto shots in a 4-3 overtime victory in Game 4 of the Eastern Conference quarterfinals Wednesday night, Julien was asked about the play of his netminder by NESN reporter Naoko Funayama.
“He was good,” Julien responded.
The Bruins now lead the Maple Leafs, 3-1, in the best-of-seven series. They seem on the cusp of advancing, so maybe Julien is waiting for later rounds to bust out the $5 adjectives. Of course, he could just be taking his cues from the goaltender, who never seems all that impressed with his own play.
Watch how nonchalantly he gloved and held onto Joffrey Lupul’s laser-like wrist shot on the rush eight minutes into overtime. Once the Bruins won the game, that save squeezed itself into the franchise’s record books right after Tim Thomas’ remarkable stops on Brian Gionta and Steve Downie during the 2011 Stanley Cup championship run.
And what did Rask do? There were no fist-pumps, touchdown dances or even high-fives from the fearless Finn. He just stood back up and handed the puck over like Don Draper providing another lovely lady at the bar her next cigarette.
Is he “Tuukka Suave”?
Well, there are some people who probably won’t be convinced of Rask’s superiority until he proves he won’t have another 3-0 meltdown like in 2010. Even another great regular season this year didn’t earn him enough votes to finish among the final three for the Vezina Trophy.
Maybe Rask would get more credit for his efforts if he did some dancing or chirping or had some fancy royal nickname. However, he’s not going to do that. Yes, he’s known to throw a postgame nutty, especially after losing a shootout, now or then. But except for those brief moments of anger, he’s always the coolest guy on the ice, and always humble and searching for ways to explain how he can get even better when he’s off the ice.
The Maple Leafs have learned that all series, and even more so in Game 4. While their goaltender James Reimer plays with a spring in his glove and always looks like he’s trying to dig a hole in the ice to recover his position or the puck, Rask is never flustered.
If there is room for Rask to improve, than closing out the Maple Leafs in this series won’t be his last triumphant act. And maybe we’ll get to hear a more expansive vocabulary from Julien.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for CBSBoston.com and also contributes coverage to NHL.com and several other media outlets. Follow him on Twitter @TheBruinsBlog.