There are ghosts in the TD Garden at times.
It’s unspoken, to say the least, but we’re all well aware of them. They come up when we least expect them, sometimes years after their first appearances. They may sift into the heads of the players and the fans, almost subconsciously and without warning. Then sometimes, all at once, we see them and they take over. The only way to get rid of them is to beat them, the way that they once beat you.
Save your narratives about blown leads of three for another time. Tuukka Rask finally got rid of those ghosts.
Saturday’s matinee against the Philadelphia Flyers marked the first time Rask faced the Broad Street Bullies since the 2010 Playoffs—the series where the Boston Bruins squandered a three-game series lead along with a three-goal lead in Game 7. By stopping all of Philadelphia’s 23 shots in a 3-0 win for the Bruins over the Flyers, it was vindication for Rask that we can all close the door on that.
It could be said that the Bruins exorcised those ghosts when they swept the Flyers in the first round of the 2011 Playoffs en route to their first Stanley Cup in 39 years. That’s fair, but with Tim Thomas in net the past 12 times the Bruins and Flyers met, it really was Rask’s battle to overcome whether he’d admit or not.
“It was better for our team to play a solid 60-minute defensive game but still get the offense,” said Rask after the game. “Not so much for me to get the shutout cause, we’re a team here and win as a team and lose as a team, but it’s always good to get a shutout. It tells a lot about team defense.”
Both teams got off to a slow start, releasing just a handful of shots in the first ten minutes of the game. What followed was a barrage of three goals in less than three minutes for the Bruins that started after a gorgeous pass from Milan Lucic led to a power-play goal scored by Tyler Seguin.
Even though the storyline is stale and the rosters are different, the scoreboard looked eerily similar with five minutes left in the first period: Bruins 3, Flyers 0. The same as it was on May 14, 2010 before the Flyers completed their historic comeback.
Of course, we were treated to hours worth of comparisons throughout the game, including a too many men penalty call on the Bruins midway through the third period. Three years ago, that would have been the difference in the game. Now? It was merely a missed opportunity for the Flyers to convert. This wasn’t three years ago.
Philadelphia looked tired and unmotivated. After two straight icing calls, Nicklas Grossman glided to touch the puck in his own end with little hustle. It was like that all game for the Flyers. It looked like the Bruins had this game won after their first goal. Turns out that they did.
The Bruins were the better team on the ice, creating more chances and winning battles for the puck. It was refreshing to see a team that has gotten dogged in the past few days play as close to a full-60 minute game as they have in quite some time–just two games after blowing their latest three-goal lead to the Washington Capitals.
The Bruins’ record improved to 16-3-3 while Rask got his second shutout of the season and the first star of the game. After handing a hockey stick to a young fan, Rask cracked a smile and quickly applauded the fans who were chanting “Tuuuuuk” as he skated off of the ice. The ghosts are gone.
“Things happen in hockey,” said Rask. “If you start thinking that certain match-ups are better for you than the others, then you’ve lost half the battle so it was just a game like any other.”
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Mike Miccoli covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers and has been a credentialed member of the media for all Bruins’ home games for the past five years. As a former player, coach and official, Miccoli has been around the game of hockey since the age of three. Along with his work on THW, Miccoli has also been published in the New England Hockey Journal, Improper Bostonian magazine and on BostInno.