WILMINGTON, Mass. — If the Bruins as a team want to adhere to the old adage about never letting your opponent see you sweat, Tuukka Rask will have to work harder on his poker face.
The second-year NHL goaltender has come a long way since his milk-crate-throwing nights with the Providence (AHL) farm club, but he sometimes tips his hand too much with outward displays of anger after the opposing team lights the lamp. To his credit, the 24-year-old Rask, who took some heat for his body language after goals in Nashville and Toronto, realizes he needs to lean toward stoicism more in the future.
“Yeah, I have to,” Rask told TheBruinsBlog.net when asked after today’s practice if he’s going to try to better corral his emotions going forward. “I don’t want to be looking stupid like I did. I guess I have to control it a little bit more.”
Rask’s gesturing and yelling at Dennis Seidenberg Saturday in Toronto, after the defenseman screened the goaltender on a goal against, got a lot of play on the CBC during the Bruins’ 5-2 loss. He also looked angry at rookie defenseman Steven Kampfer after the game-tying goal and ticked off at the world after the overtime-losing goal in Nashville last Thursday.
In acknowledging he doesn’t want to show anyone up, Rask — who noted that he and Seidenberg cleared the air and made a joke about the incident — wanted to stress that his actions are never directed toward a teammate but more a sign of anger toward the result of the play.
“You get pissed off when you get scored on and when it’s a tie game [like in Nashville], we’re a good team and that usually doesn’t happen to us. It’s not about getting frustrated [with teammates], it’s about getting mad because you get scored on,” he said. “It’s tough to not show it because you try to put up a great effort to stop the puck and then shitty goals go by. It sucks. It’s tough sometimes to not to show it.”
Bruins head coach Claude Julien sounds like a man hoping that Rask continues to mature and keep more of his feelings to himself.
“I don’t support that. And I don’t think anybody supports that, including him,” said the coach. “Sometimes frustration sets in. You see players breaking their sticks after a goal against, you see them putting their heads up in the air after they miss an open net, there’s a frustration part. So I’m certainly not going to stand here and start accusing him of that. But I think it’s something that you don’t want to see from anybody because it has a big impact on your team.
“So having said that, I think Tuukka’s aware of that. And if anything, he’s been playing some of his best hockey lately. So I don’t think there’s any need for that. And I think, it’s just sometimes you’ve just got to control those emotions. He’s frustrated with his first half of the year and he wants to help this hockey club and sometimes his emotions run a little too high.”
With Rask seemingly near the top of his game again, all the Bruins need to do is support him better to avoid any reason for a negative reaction. But if they don’t come to his aid, at least he’s not going to provide the opposition with some mental ammunition.
“Maybe when a goalie does that, he might give the other team some sense of frustration, but obviously you don’t want that to happen,” admitted Rask.