As part of the Boston Bruins festivities leading up to their season opener on Jan. 19, the team held a scrimmage against the Providence Bruins at TD Garden on Jan. 15. Every single free ticket for the event was sold and eager Bruins fans came to the Garden for their first look at the team in game action. However, Providence skated away with the 7-5 win.
However, if they’re really truly worried about the near future from what they saw on the ice, I am more worried about them than the team.
It should go without saying that this was a friendly game that didn’t mean much. The teams were playing it safe because both sides have actual, proper games to play soon and don’t want to risk the idea of injury in a just-for-fun scrimmage. This goes double for the goaltenders who played in this scrimmage, Tuukka Rask and Anton Khudobin.
People are already fretting about Rask’s readiness to play real games when he allowed six goals from the members of an AHL team (Providence’s seventh goal was an empty-netter). Keep in mind, though, that he may have been taking it easy because he wants to save his energy for the New York Rangers and doesn’t want to risk injury, especially to his groin, where he’s had problems before.
Also, the P-Bruins have been playing a normal season together. The big Bruins have only been back together for about a week or so.
It was interesting to see that they rolled the Tyler Seguin-Patrice Bergeron-Brad Marchand line as the first line and put Milan Lucic-David Krejci-Nathan Horton second. Plus, third-liner Chris Bourque got to step on Boston ice for the first time ever and had a three-point night. Was he fueled by the excitement of getting to fulfill a childhood dream and wear the same colors as his dad?
“I’ve said it a thousand times, but it’s been a dream of mine since I was a little kid to put this jersey on in a game,” he told NESN’s Andy Brickley after the game. Playing against the guys he’s been playing with for months down in Rhode Island was an unusual experience for him and, though he tried to make the game as real as possible, he did take it slow and keep it clean.
On the other hand, Bobby Robins. Perhaps looking for a bit of fun, he tussled with Adam McQuaid for a few seconds, nothing too serious, McQuaid went down first, but at one point Robins was seeking a different dance partner–Zdeno Chara. He also tried to go with Shawn Thornton, who wasn’t in the mood.
Again, though, don’t read too much into the results of this game, especially when it comes to questioning Rask’s readiness. Instead, consider the record he put together last time he was technically Boston’s starter, the 2009-10 season. That season, he played 45 games, chalked up a 22-12-5 record, a .931 save percentage and a 1.97 goals-against average, which was among the league’s best GAAs. In fact, he should’ve been considered for the Calder Trophy with numbers like those.
Even last year, with only 23 games played, he had an 11-8-3 record with a .936 save percentage and 2.05 goals-against average. His 17-game stint in the Czech Republic during the lockout brought a .925 save percentage and 2.11 goals-against average–they don’t really keep the same kind of win-loss numerical records as we’re used to on this side of the Atlantic.
Rask is ready. Under the circumstances, he can’t be much readier than he is. He’s more than ready to prove the doubters wrong, starting this Saturday.