Re: Rask will choke. Face it, the guy is no Tim Thomas.
posted at 6/26/2013 12:57 PM EDT
I think one thing that was inherently different in 11 with Thomas and 13 with Rask is that the Boston d-men (gulp) were not as shutdown in front of Thomas as the more experienced (Ference, Boychuk, McQuaid two years more a veteran) group in front of Rask. Now, the Pittsburgh series, Rask was both phenomenal and if you recall also nary a rebound play. It was as textbook hockey in one series any team can execute on another team--especially one as scoring talented as Pittsburgh.
I said this in an earlier thread that Rask went beyond Thomas in that series, never before seeing a goalie so consistently good over a 4-game pressure cooker Eastern Conf. Finals, and never batting an eye or giving up even a "bad" goal.
With that said, Thomas had several outstanding stops in the game 7 v. Vancouver, he outlasted Tampa, he outlasted Montreal and the game where he gave up 4 goals at Philly up until the game Rask had at Toronto, I thought was one of the greatest goaltending performances in B's History as Thomas had something like 53 saves in a game where the B's simply played horsepooh in front of him.
Maybe there was more shutdown hockey by the B's though in the finals v. Vancouver than the other series--and that's why it's bizarre because the B's shutdown hockey v. Rangers, all of Pittsburgh and first part of the Chicago series seemed to collapse in Game 4, get better in Game 5, and then fall apart at the absolute wrong moments in Game 6. I guess you can credit Chicago for their No. 1 line, and Kane who the B's had no answers for in those last few games. I totally agree with the clutch angle though. You can point to even regular season games with Tuukka and realize he let in some really late period goals at clutch times--coinciding albeit with some poor defensive breakdowns. But again I go back to the "impossible save." And Thomas did that so often we all got used to it. He made some stops that defy logic and re-define clutch, spectacular and he did them when the B's absolutely had to have a great save to keep the game alive. I felt he did that in the Tampa and Montreal series especially. (not to mention a couple of brilliant clearouts or stops by Ryder and Chara). Rask did not make the spectacular stops, or enough of them after game No. 3 especially, certainly when the team needed it in the OT v. Chicago in Game 4, needed it in Game 5, and certainly not in the final moments of what should have been a Game 6 win.
I know, I know, it's not Rask's fault. But he was the netminder, so maybe if he could have just made some incredible save on one of those 2 plays, or did something to save the game, maybe it's different. But it just seemed like the moment the puck deflected off of anyone, it would go to a Hawk and no one could stop the play from going in. Same type of goals scored in Game 4. He was the losing goalie to Crawford in 3 straight games, even though CC was terrible in Game 4. CC responded with better games, maybe outplaying Rask in Games 5 and 6. That is what we are talking about regarding the word "clutch." It's like no matter what, when it's the most important game---he fails. He was not that good in Game 7 v. Toronto I might add. Two Game 7s v. Philly in 10 and Toronto in 13, did not come through, bailed out in Game 7 by his inconsistent scorers. And when it counted the most in Game 6, elimination with a 2-1 lead, two goals got by him in 17 seconds. It's disconcerting, and it again tells me just how hard it is to win the Cup, and how really lucky the B's were to have Thomas in 11.