It’s tough to imagine a guy going from Vezina Trophy winner to backup goalie in the span of less than a year, but that is exactly the scenario Tim Thomas is currently living out. Of course it’s less of a reflection of Thomas’ diminishing skills as it is a reflection of Tuukka Rask’s phenomenal play. On Tuesday in Atlanta, Rask got a small sample of what the playoffs may taste like and he responded as if he wants seconds. Rask again solidified his position as the team’s number one goalie with a 27-shot shutout, extending the Bruins lead over Atlanta for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference to three points.
Rask was impressive throughout, but most impressive was the poise put on display by the 23-year-old goaltender. Not only did Rask step up in a big way, but he seemed to do so with such ease. While Thomas can be just as effective at times, there are other times when he looks like a fish out of water. Thomas is obviously more unorthodox is his approach than the seemingly relaxed Rask, which makes the younger Rask arguably the better option going forward. Rask’s save on Colby Armstrong’s penalty shot in the second period was truly a microcosm of the youngster’s composure and coming of age, a state of tranquility far from his early days in the Bruins organization.
The fantastic play of Milan Lucic and David Krejci on Tuesday night was also a sight for sore eyes. The two each had a goal and an assist to lead the way in the uncharacteristic offensive explosion. Even Steve Begin was able to get on the score sheet for the first time since Dec. 30, a span of 28 games. Ironically enough, his goal on Dec. 30 was also in a 4-0 win over Atlanta.
The other goal was scored by Miroslav Satan on a deflection. Satan has now scored goals in back-to-back games for the first time this season.
With the win, the Bruins are now one point behind the Flyers for seventh and two points behind the Canadiens for sixth, with one and two games in hand respectively. On Thursday, the Bruins will try to catch lightning in a bottle and rack up their third straight win when they welcome Tampa Bay to the Garden.