B’s return Hub to new old standard
Tuukka’s ho-hum attitude brings us back to ‘Loserville’
Turns out “Tuukka Rask” is Finnish for “Charlie Brown.”
Both are loyal, lovable and, unfortunately, often on life’s losing end.
They even share the same colors.
While Charlie Brown has Lucy perpetually pulling away that dreaded football at the last moment, Keeper of the Cup Phil Pritchard continues to hold Lord Stanley’s silver chalice at arm’s length away from the Bruins goaltender, with some help, of course. (Rask did hoist the cup in 2011 as Tim Thomas’ backup).
Rask has been under a cloud of doom since Game 6 of the 2013 Stanley Cup Finals. His “Great Pumpkin” moment returned in Game 7 of the Finals at TD Garden, when he allowed two goals off the first four shots he faced. After that loss, Rask and the Bruins partied like hell at The Grand. The rest of us were left holding a bag of rocks.
Rask and the Bruins were emasculated by the Nassau County Islanders during their Eastern Conference semifinal series in just six games. The Bruins were, to paraphrase one Bill Belichick, “outplayed and outcoached in all phases.”
The post-defeat fallout landed particularly hard on Rask, as it usually does.
Rask played with a torn labrum, which was a physical explanation for his uneven and laborious play in Games 5 and 6 against the Islanders. Hockey players take the ice with injuries that would routinely sideline athletes in other sports. One can never fault anyone for wanting to play while hurt, even if it’s not in the best overall interest of the team. Props to Rask for wanting to play and toughing it out.
This was coach Bruce Cassidy’s failure. He lacked either the will or judgment to pull his goalie in favor of the future and Jeremy Swayman.
Rask has hardly the lone reason why the Bruins are playing golf this weekend. The so-called Perfection line of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak was damn-near perfect. The rest of the team was smothered like a plate of Pollo Parmigiana at Lucia’s.
Boston’s blueliners were diminished in numbers, dwarfed in size, and often double-crossed by the officials. Cassidy failed to make necessary line adjustments to counter the lethal matchups the Islanders threw at Boston in Uniondale. Taylor Hall and David Krejci disappeared for multiple shifts at a time.
Like the featured character of “Peanuts” fame, Rask has plenty of sympathetic support. His teammates have been unwavering in their loyalty, even after he botched it against the Blackhawks, bungled it against the Blues, or burst his team’s hopes by tapping out of the NHL Bubble.
Bruins center Charlie Coyle has South Shore roots. Coyle was one of many with Rask’s back Friday and likened the goalie’s critics to the famous TV clown “Bozo.” The Bruins were minus-8 with Coyle on the ice at even-strength against the Islanders.
“For anyone to criticize him is — someone used the word ‘Bozo’ before — it’s just stupid,” Coyle said. “Tuukka is one of the best goalies and he’s been doing it for however long now, playing through stuff. Most people don’t know what goes on behind the scenes and what guys go through, what he goes through, what he plays through. And he does it well. We love Tuukka. We all know what he brings every day. I think Tuukka knows that, and that’s all he needs.”
I was more of a “Rex Trailer” kid myself.
For more than 15 years until 2001, the Boston pro sports scene was “Charlie Brown” and “Bozo” combined. The Bay State did not celebrate a home-grown championship from the 1986 NBA Finals through the final gun of Super Bowl XXXVI. Back then, trying was more than good enough. Playing for the “Big, Bad Bruins” with a torn labrum would get you a guest spot on “Cheers” or at least a cameo on “Ally McBeal.”
Boston was so thirsty for a title that Ray Bourque flew in from Colorado with the Stanley Cup just so the city could drink it all in.
Amid Rask’s claims that he ignores the noise during the Bruins post-mortem press-gaggle on Friday, the goalie admitted — without naming names — that Tom Brady has made life flat-out miserable for every other professional athlete who plays in the Bay State or will do so for the next 20 years.
“The Patriots definitely haven’t helped anybody in that regard, because they won championships every year it seemed like. This city only recognizes champions as their heroes,” Rask said. “I feel like I’ve played good hockey and given us a chance. It’s tough to win. Very few guys can win it. It’s not easy. We’ve definitely tried. I just haven’t been able to close the deal, and that’s the way it is. You just must deal with it. Maybe it’ll happen, who knows.”
“I feel like I’ve played good hockey.”
“It’s tough to win.”
“We definitely tried.”
We were served even weaker sauce after the Celtics were obliterated by Brooklyn.
Last season, Belichick offered nearly every excuse that he had mocked others for using over the previous 20 years to explain his inability to adopt to a post-Brady universe.
Instead of Gronk spiking beers, we’re stuck with athletes and coaches shedding metaphorical tears.
Is this the new old standard? Have we returned to the “Good Job, Good Effort” era of Boston professional sports?
Is “Loserville” back as the final stop on the Red Line?
It may indeed be time to gas up the Swan Boats.
The longest trophy gap during the “Score of Success” was 1,099 days, from the Celtics’ rout of the Lakers in Game 6 of 2008 NBA Finals to Tim Thomas’ Game 7 shutout of the Canucks on June 15, 2011.
Super Bowl XLVI comes 1,106 days after Brady and the Patriots won Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, the region’s most-recent championship.
If the Red Sox (+2200 at DraftKings) don’t win the 2021 World Series, New England will officially clinch its longest title drought since “Varitek split the uprights.”