Being an NHL goalie can be a lonely existence.
Ken Dryden, when he was stopping pucks for the Montreal Canadiens, used to strike that famous pose with his gloved hands perched on top of his goal stick, which provided a convenient landing spot for his chin during those contemplative moments.
During a stoppage in play, you will often see a netminder take a leisurely skate to one corner of the rink and then back to the net to while away some time.
Grooming the crease of built-up snow is another popular pastime for these masked marvels. After all, a neat home is a happy home.
Which brings us to Tuukka Rask, the flashy Finnish goaltender for the Boston Bruins, who lead the Ottawa Senators 1-0 in their best-of-seven game in the Eastern Conference quarter-final playoff series.
Rask was anything but lonely at the Canadian Tire Centre on Wednesday night, where he was instrumental in Boston skating off with a 2-1 win, in a game the Senators are ruing they let slip through their fingers.
The Senators are of the belief that they accorded Rask too much respect in the opening game, that many of the 27 shots they fired his way were of the garden-variety type – from far afield and with little in the way of interference in front to impair the goalie’s vision.
For Game 2 on Saturday, the Senators are promising that Rask will have a lot more company in and around his territory as Ottawa looks to square the series.
“For sure,” said Ottawa defenceman Cody Ceci when asked if Ottawa has to make life more difficult for Rask in order to achieve success. “I think any goalie at this point of the year … you’ve got to make sure get some screens, you get some tips, push them back in the crease.
“That’s how you score goals in the NHL in the playoffs.”
Ottawa dominated play through the first two periods on Wednesday but only had a 1-0 lead to show for it on a goal by Bobby Ryan about midway through the second frame.
The Senators were skating rings around the plodding Bruins and even outshot them 12-0 in the second period, when Rask saved his team’s bacon time after time.
“Can someone in the advanced stat community tell us if that is good?” came a response from the official Senators’ Twitter feed.
In fact, that was pretty good. According to the Bruins, it was the first time in 78 years that a Boston team recorded zero shots on goal in a period during the playoffs.
But in the third, the Senators started “cocooning,” to use the description supplied by coach Guy Boucher, mostly standing pat in the defensive zone, trying to protect the lead.
It allowed the Bruins more freedom to roam and on two shifts in the third period, after hemming Ottawa in its own end for extended lengths of time, Boston broke through with two goals that proved the difference.
First, it was Frank Vatrano who notched the tying goal and then Brad Marchand, the Boston superpest, supplying the winner with just under three minutes to play.
“We didn’t sustain what we were doing for 60 minutes and we paid for it,” Boucher said. “And obviously two shifts killed us … nine turnovers in two shifts. One of the goals was five turnovers in our zone and the other one was four turnovers. Even one turnover is not good.”
Neither team practised on Thursday but they will get back to work on Friday at the Bell Sensplex, the Senators official practice facility nearby the Canadian Tire Centre, which is unavailable because of a Dixie Chicks concert.
Mark Stone, the Ottawa winger, said that apart from those two lapses in the third period the Senators believed they played well enough to win.
“We played well,” he said. “It’s obviously the little things we need to adjust to.
“It was just one game, there’s still a long series to go. We knew that we weren’t going to sweep them.”
And he said the Senators know what they need to change if they want to see a different result on Saturday.
“It’s tough,” he said. “We’re in a new season now and it gets harder and harder to score this time of year.
“I think as a whole we need to put more pressure on their D, on their goalie, make it harder for him to see pucks, make him work a bit harder than he had to do [on Wednesday night].”
“That’s our game plan, just try and create chaos in the offensive zone, shooting pucks from everywhere,” Ottawa forward Kyle Turris added.Report Typo/Error
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