By Matt Dolloff, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — Tuukka Rask is a good goaltender. Very good, even. He’s had moments where he’s been unbeatable. But he’s also susceptible to giving up the occasional mind-numbingly soft goal, and he did not wait long to do that in the Bruins’ season opener against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Just 2:58 into the game, the Jackets’ Alexander Wennberg waltzed through the neutral zone and met little resistance from defensemen Torey Krug and Colin Miller before firing a wrister past Rask from about 60 feet away. It was the first shot on goal of the game (and the season) for Columbus.
Watch the goal below:
Needless to say, Rask gift-wrapped some fresh ammunition for his detractors by allowing that marshmallow of a goal. The immediate reactions on Twitter were … strong to quite strong.
That’s not to say these fans were wrong to react that way. That first goal was absolutely inexcusable and it’s discouraging to know that Rask’s glove hand is still vulnerable, even against shots like Wennberg’s flick-it-at-the-net-and-see-where-it-bounces wrister.
It would have been nice to see Rask bail out the defense on the Jackets’ second goal of the game, when Zdeno Chara and Brandon Carlo let Columbus’ Nick Foligno find a gaping passing lane down low for Cam Atkinson’s power-play goal, but it would be tough to place the blame on Rask for that one.
Rask played better after the first goal to stop 28 of the next 30 shots (.933) and make a handful of key saves that kept the Bruins in the game, especially on a flurry of Columbus shots in the first five-and-a-half minutes of the second period. At one point, he stopped Boone Jenner in the slot and then saved three point-blank shots in a span of two seconds by Atkinson and Brandon Dubinsky.
Columbus’ third goal falls entirely on the Bruins’ team defense shriveling up like a prune. Blaming Rask in any fashion, for the defense whiffing on several attempts to clear the puck before letting Seth Jones fire a clean wrist shot through a forest of bodies, would be a major reach.
On the whole, Rask’s night went like the game went for the Bruins as a team: shaky and sloppy early on, but stronger as the game went along in the final two periods. The performance won’t change your mind about Rask as a goaltender, either way, but it was encouraging to see Rask bounce back after allowing one of the softer goals of his career and setting an ominous tone.
Rask will definitely need to start games better in future games, especially as the competition improves. But for the way Rask mostly held the fort for the rest of the game, it was hard to ask for much more.
Matt Dolloff is a writer for CBSBostonSports.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect that of CBS or 98.5 The Sports Hub. Have a news tip or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff and email him at email@example.com.